Abstract art and imagination

JennieJo

Experimentalist
Contributing Member
Messages
1,178
I've started to investigate why abstract art appeals to me, and to better inform me about my instincts for creating abstract works. I'm starting with these ideas from: https://www.wikiart.org/news/dimensions-unleashed-navigating-space-in-abstract-art/

"Abstract artists manipulate that play of positive to negative space, and in so doing challenge the conventional notions about dimensionality: they construct compositions that seem to have their own depth, movement, and uncertainty of spatiality

Depth Through Layering

The layering is one of the best-known techniques in the arsenal of abstract artists; superimposing many layers of colors, textures, and shapes helps to achieve visual deepening, leading with the eyes the one who looks at the picture as if going into an aerial perspective. The dimensionality in the work is brought by the play of this between the elements in front and at the back, and thus the line between surface and space is blurred."
 
Hi, I think this can be a quite complex answer. Apart from the visual stimulus of certain shapes & colour combinations, there is an individual psychological element.
For YOUR reasons, explore, meditate etc.
All art appeals or repels for each viewer. Was VanGoghs art ugly?
It's not an answer to your question, but, you may try an exercise in paper wasting over a number of days, either themed or not and journal impressions before, during and after, as well as any triggers that may pop up in dreams or during quiet times.
Do you have a shape or colour that resonates, then really push it. Your subconscious will respond, so be watchful and respect your reactions, it may bring up stuff that is challenging so take care.
 
That is such a thought-provoking post, Jennie. The question of preferences and taste is an interesting one that I'm sure has been the subject of many PhD dissertations. I have always wondered why I would love to live in an Axel Vervoordt interior, while my my neighbour, who has a similar educational background, is quite happy to live in his Laura Ashley cocoon. The timeworn response when I ask this question is that the world would be so boring if we all had the same taste, but I don't find that useful at all. I would be very interested to hear thoughts on this from our other members.
 
Hi, I think this can be a quite complex answer. Apart from the visual stimulus of certain shapes & colour combinations, there is an individual psychological element.
For YOUR reasons, explore, meditate etc.
All art appeals or repels for each viewer. Was VanGoghs art ugly?
It's not an answer to your question, but, you may try an exercise in paper wasting over a number of days, either themed or not and journal impressions before, during and after, as well as any triggers that may pop up in dreams or during quiet times.
Do you have a shape or colour that resonates, then really push it. Your subconscious will respond, so be watchful and respect your reactions, it may bring up stuff that is challenging so take care.
Thanks. Interesting ideas. I have done most of those things. I'm thinking of doing something of doing something more clinically analytic and seeing what I find.
 
That is such a thought-provoking post, Jennie. The question of preferences and taste is an interesting one that I'm sure has been the subject of many PhD dissertations. I have always wondered why I would love to live in an Axel Vervoordt interior, while my my neighbour, who has a similar educational background, is quite happy to live in his Laura Ashley cocoon. The timeworn response when I ask this question is that the world would be so boring if we all had the same taste, but I don't find that useful at all. I would be very interested to hear thoughts on this from our other members.
So true. Like or dislike is not on my list to investigate. It's just about the techniques commonly used or created. Just like any other style, like realistic portraits.

I think. Discovery is the goal.
 
Hi again, yeeeessss, but. To perform a clinical analysis on abstracted art process.... As Hermes said, this becomes a philosophical process, let alone psychological. Question, are you looking to abstract a subject you are rendering or, have some/any/specific subject emerge from the artistic process? I still say, you need to explore your core. From some of you previous works, you are very capable.
But are you looking to expand? I'm not the best to comment on abstracted art, I enjoy some others just leave me flat, both may have been the artists intentions. Pollack's stuff comes to mind, what was his mind state (apart from alcohol) as he created these still impressive works. It's a limited example. Look at Picasso, stripping away until a core image is left.
I get what you mean by layering tho, I do the same with tone, colour, texture in my paintings, but my inner limitations place a semi impressionistic " realism" "style" that I would love to tease, but am running out of years.
So is there an inner story looking to escape or be expressed? Or do you want to create a story.... Regardless of the viewer
Either way, more power to your brush and exploration, this is what breaks an artist away from the pack.
 
Murray and Hermes offer some smart ideas here. Now, *I* can’t do anything abstract because I like to comment/point to the representational stuff out in “the world.” That way, emotionally speaking, I can stay detached. (No messy feelings ever coming outta me!) I think abstract art though is much more concerned with the interiority of your emotions and thoughts and so you create your own kind of language using certain elements of art like color, shape, form, line. THOSE things become your “subject.”

I don’t know…just spitballing.

I like abstract art though - done well - and there’s the rub, I think. How do you define what’s good abstract from the bad? Joan Mitchell is considered by many to be one of the masters. In this biography (below), I was able to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be inside someone (the fusion of mind/spirit/body) as she created her large abstracts. It helped me understand this process better than anything else and IMO, was just a really good book.

IMG_5846.jpeg


So, if you study how any of the abstract masters approached it….something is bound to click inside YOU since you’re already curious and have opened that door. Example: theres’s a lot of abstracted layering stuff happening here in Mitchell’s painting (my fav) and somehow….”Hemlock” mysteriously emerges.

IMG_5847.jpeg
 
Hi again, yeeeessss, but. To perform a clinical analysis on abstracted art process.... As Hermes said, this becomes a philosophical process, let alone psychological. Question, are you looking to abstract a subject you are rendering or, have some/any/specific subject emerge from the artistic process? I still say, you need to explore your core. From some of you previous works, you are very capable.
But are you looking to expand? I'm not the best to comment on abstracted art, I enjoy some others just leave me flat, both may have been the artists intentions. Pollack's stuff comes to mind, what was his mind state (apart from alcohol) as he created these still impressive works. It's a limited example. Look at Picasso, stripping away until a core image is left.
I get what you mean by layering tho, I do the same with tone, colour, texture in my paintings, but my inner limitations place a semi impressionistic " realism" "style" that I would love to tease, but am running out of years.
So is there an inner story looking to escape or be expressed? Or do you want to create a story.... Regardless of the viewer
Either way, more power to your brush and exploration, this is what breaks an artist away from the pack.
Need to read this again.
 
I've started to investigate why abstract art appeals to me, and to better inform me about my instincts for creating abstract works. I'm starting with these ideas from: https://www.wikiart.org/news/dimensions-unleashed-navigating-space-in-abstract-art/

"Abstract artists manipulate that play of positive to negative space, and in so doing challenge the conventional notions about dimensionality: they construct compositions that seem to have their own depth, movement, and uncertainty of spatiality

Depth Through Layering

The layering is one of the best-known techniques in the arsenal of abstract artists; superimposing many layers of colors, textures, and shapes helps to achieve visual deepening, leading with the eyes the one who looks at the picture as if going into an aerial perspective. The dimensionality in the work is brought by the play of this between the elements in front and at the back, and thus the line between surface and space is blurred."
A series of small oil and acrylic works. Digitally edited with a recent photograph, andmy current concepts in mind.


1000007266.jpg
1000007269.jpg
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1000007271.jpg
 
Hi again, yeeeessss, but. To perform a clinical analysis on abstracted art process.... As Hermes said, this becomes a philosophical process, let alone psychological. Question, are you looking to abstract a subject you are rendering or, have some/any/specific subject emerge from the artistic process? I still say, you need to explore your core. From some of you previous works, you are very capable.
But are you looking to expand? I'm not the best to comment on abstracted art, I enjoy some others just leave me flat, both may have been the artists intentions. Pollack's stuff comes to mind, what was his mind state (apart from alcohol) as he created these still impressive works. It's a limited example. Look at Picasso, stripping away until a core image is left.
I get what you mean by layering tho, I do the same with tone, colour, texture in my paintings, but my inner limitations place a semi impressionistic " realism" "style" that I would love to tease, but am running out of years.
So is there an inner story looking to escape or be expressed? Or do you want to create a story.... Regardless of the viewer
Either way, more power to your brush and exploration, this is what breaks an artist away from the pack.
Thanks Murray, your thoughts have taken me deeper! But, no rabbit hole in sight.
 
A series of small oil and acrylic works. Digitally edited with a recent photograph, andmy current concepts in mind.


View attachment 41085View attachment 41086View attachment 41087View attachment 41088
Jennie, these are very very good. Abstract, but nailing many of those traditional "eye" and golden proportions. Colour is appealingly balanced and nuanced. Beware, I am NOT an expert or well versed in abstracts, I'm very much a "golden summers" guy.
BTW other thoughts..., you mention the layering aerial views... As Aussies, the art and language of the Aboriginals speak at an archetypal level. Are they abstract? or stories? They are traditionally complex stories or ...a pictographic story in a modern abstract vernacular. To make the waters even more muddy, Clinical studies show there is not a common eye movement reaction visually to abstract images, suggesting that it's individual to the viewer AND artist. Heavy stuff.
I think you have put your foot on the path of quite deep exploration, good luck.
 
Abstract art as most any other genre is open to the interpretation of the Viewer. I'm not sure anyone can really ever be an "expert" in Abstract art, which might be its true strength!

I think most of us have all come across Abstract art, that we have thought something like "that looks like something a 10-year old could create" or art that is so random, simplistic, distorted, disarranged or otherwise messy, that one questions why it was ever even made...

But again, without knowing and understanding the Artist and the passion and motivation behind its creation, the Viewer is left befuddled.

In many ways Art is like Music, which is open to the Listeners interpretation. And just like some of us may hate a song (or music genre), the next person my love and adore it!

This topic and premise, simply defines us as a species and exemplifies the vast differences in human tastes, making it as hard to "quantify" as it is to fully understand or explain....!


A1267v1.jpg
 
Love Joan Mitchel's Hemlock above and Jennie that last piece with the table is super cool . Beautiful and fascinating which checks the boxes for me. I've always liked that transparent multilevel thing. Make that really big and get it in a gallery. Folks would love to see it IMO.

Joan Mitchel's Hemlock (almost 8 foot tall .. 1956,) reminds me of Mondrian's tree abstractions which are a good insight into what abstraction is about I suppose. But is it? Abstraction can also lose sight of representation entirely. It's a fascinating area of art for sure. A bit confusing to me at least.

What motivated Mondrian towards abstract art was something much more mystical than that of Picasso and Braque; in his words, he aimed “to articulate a mystic conception of cosmic harmony that lay behind the surfaces of reality.


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Jennie, these are very very good. Abstract, but nailing many of those traditional "eye" and golden proportions. Colour is appealingly balanced and nuanced. Beware, I am NOT an expert or well versed in abstracts, I'm very much a "golden summers" guy.
BTW other thoughts..., you mention the layering aerial views... As Aussies, the art and language of the Aboriginals speak at an archetypal level. Are they abstract? or stories? They are traditionally complex stories or ...a pictographic story in a modern abstract vernacular. To make the waters even more muddy, Clinical studies show there is not a common eye movement reaction visually to abstract images, suggesting that it's individual to the viewer AND artist. Heavy stuff.
I think you have put your foot on the path of quite deep exploration, good luck.
Thank you so much Murray.
 
Love Joan Mitchel's Hemlock above and Jennie that last piece with the table is super cool . Beautiful and fascinating which checks the boxes for me. I've always liked that transparent multilevel thing. Make that really big and get it in a gallery. Folks would love to see it IMO.

Joan Mitchel's Hemlock (almost 8 foot tall .. 1956,) reminds me of Mondrian's tree abstractions which are a good insight into what abstraction is about I suppose. But is it? Abstraction can also lose sight of representation entirely. It's a fascinating area of art for sure. A bit confusing to me at least.

What motivated Mondrian towards abstract art was something much more mystical than that of Picasso and Braque; in his words, he aimed “to articulate a mystic conception of cosmic harmony that lay behind the surfaces of reality.


View attachment 41097
Thanks for joining in John. And, Thanks for the quote, and the link. I hadn't read it before. Going big ... that's a great challenge for me.
 
Jennie, I am so in love with your abstracts! They are abstracts in the true sense of abstracting the essence of a real object or scene. I think Man Ray would have been proud to produce that last one, which reminds me of his experiments with solarization.
 
Great subject to talk about! I never went to art school, but I have made a close study of abstract art since I was a child. That's no exaggeration, really. Most of the beginnings were totally instinctual, of course, but I think that could have been a good thing.

I think the "Depth Through Laying" definition plays on some earlier abstract artists like Kandinsky and maybe some of Picasso's cubist work, too, as far as demesionality is concerned. Believe it or not, Mondrian's red, white, black, and blue boxes were just another push forward or response to cubism. This has all been a long conversation between artists that's been going on for centuries now (Picasso and Braque starting the cubist conversation), which evolved from the abstractionists before them, etc.

I don't mean to sound like a purist when I say that a true work of abstract art has nothing to do with "abstracting" realism. Some people with a critical eye and purist opinions might say this. But I can say that I see their point. Abstract art is not representational. At least it's not supposed to be, but there are no "supposed to be"s in art. Both abstract art and art itself should be about breaking rules. That's what the Der Blaue Reiter was supposed to be about in the first place. I consider them the first punk rock movement, in fact. They were punk rock as a group, what they made, how they promoted, and how they exhibited.

IMAGINATION is everything! "Abstract Art and Imagination" is a completely fitting title for the thread. To me, the farther away a work is from what is real and the closer it is to one's imagination, the better--leaving behind what is real to everyone else's eye as well.

But some rules still apply, like the basics. Composition being the main player. For me, I rely on my instincts, but this is after viewing tens of thousands of abstracts, good and bad, and training my eye to know which are successful and why. And then, taking that knowledge into my studio and never getting it right for my own self! :ROFLMAO:
 
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I know nothing of abstract art. Never studied art, just like to paint. Some abstract I like and some does nothing. Guess it is the same with all art, painting or otherwise. This thread is most interesting, thanks, Jennie Jo, for making me put on my thinking cap and learning a bit more.
 
Great subject to talk about! I never went to art school, but I have made a close study of abstract art since I was a child. That's no exaggeration, really. Most of the beginnings were totally instinctual, of course, but I think that could have been a good thing.

I think the "Depth Through Laying" definition plays on some earlier abstract artists like Kandinsky and maybe some of Picasso's cubist work, too, as far as demesionality is concerned. Believe it or not, Mondrian's red, white, black, and blue boxes were just another push forward or response to cubism. This has all been a long conversation between artists that's been going on for centuries now (Picasso and Braque starting the cubist conversation), which evolved from the abstractionists before them, etc.

I don't mean to sound like a purist when I say that a true work of abstract art has nothing to do with "abstracting" realism. Some people with a critical eye and purist opinions might say this. But I can say that I see their point. Abstract art is not representational. At least it's not supposed to be, but there are no "supposed to be"s in art. Both abstract art and art itself should be about breaking rules. That's what the Der Blaue Reiter was supposed to be about in the first place. I consider them the first punk rock movement, in fact. They were punk rock as a group, what they made, how they promoted, and how they exhibited.

IMAGINATION is everything! "Abstract Art and Imagination" is a completely fitting title for the thread. To me, the farther away a work is from what is real and the closer it is to one's imagination, the better--leaving behind what is real to everyone else's eye as well.

But some rules still apply, like the basics. Composition being the main player. For me, I rely on my instincts, but this is after viewing tens of thousands of abstracts, good and bad, and training my eye to know which are successful and why. And then, taking that knowledge into my studio and never getting it right for my own self! :ROFLMAO:
Very interesting. Great to hear your thoughts. This paragraph sounds very much like my 'instincts'.
"But some rules still apply, like the basics. Composition being the main player. For me, I rely on my instincts, but this is after viewing tens of thousands of abstracts, good and bad, and training my eye to know which are successful and why. And then, taking that knowledge into my studio and never getting it right for my own self! :ROFLMAO:" And the paragraph directly above.
 
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