Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Painting the abstract

Although the main type of painting I have mostly done could be called impressionism, reflective, or expressionism, I also like what are called abstracts (non-objective) and once in awhile I try my hand at them. I have done huge ones before (when it fails, it fails big time) but for now I am concentrating on doing small ones to see if I can get the feel for them. I wanted to do them to see if it would help loosen me up for the landscapes... maybe

I envy my friend, Parapluie's ability to paint abstracts and consider hers to be among my favorites no matter where I look at others-- Umbrella Painting Journal. What I especially admire in her abstracts is the looseness and the underlying structure. Just painting loose doesn't cut it but being too structured kills it. Good abstracts don't happen regularly (although lucky accidents can happen to anybody. I am still unsure what makes abstracts work, why do some have energy and some simply look like wallpaper?

You know basically anybody can paint a representational painting if they take the time to develop their craft, learn perspective rules, have any kind of eye for what makes a good photograph, and spend time with the work. It really is not that difficult to exactly copy what you see if you learn the craft behind it. What is harder is when you start trying to abstract either that scene in front of you or something inside your head into something totally new.

So while I worked on experimenting with small abstracts (8"x10"), my sheep would see me out there and come over to see what else I might have to offer which led to weeding more of the garden for the kind of treats they enjoy.

My first abstract ended up not really working. It began all orange as I made strokes through it; then it seemed to have a watery feeling and from there it became an ocean and less abstract. Well, at least the colors are abstracted. It is really hard for me to make a painting that doesn't end up being about something.


The second one, I decided to just lay in colors and then what the heck, lay in some more-- basically whatever pleased me. I went in the house in between and read some articles online about how to paint abstracts. Nothing though that I saw was what I hoped to do. This ended up more non-objective, but it does kind of look to me like going into a watery cave with spirit symbols hanging in space. I didn't intend it but even the yellow became like moss hanging from the sides of the cliffs. It might be I have the wrong personality to do abstracts or maybe doing more will get past this need to have them be about something.


Well, I know one thing-- I enjoyed my afternoon playing with the oils as I also simmered a tomato sauce for dinner from fresh tomatoes and the sheep liked their snacks while the garden got an unplanned weeding.

10 comments:

Paul said...

The first one made me think of violent natural elements coming together Rain...Powerful interaction...

Parapluie said...

Great spirited paintings! Love their juicy buttery texture. They are a great point of departure. there is an exhibit at LaSelles in Corvallis by that name.
I have thought about how much I like your A LA PRIMA work. I just can't resist going back into mine. So often additions kill the spirit. So I admire your ability to paint the moment and then back away.

20th Century Woman said...

I can't paint abstracts. They always turn into something, and the effort to prevent that spoils my pleasure in painting. I don't think painting landscapes is the same as a photograph -- if it were then why not just take a photograph. It's the unique way the artist looks at the world. I am having a show with another artist, and some of the landscapes are of the same place, but they look very different in our paintings.

Rain said...

I agree that they are not the same as a photograph although they can be and I have seen them where they are. The only point I was making is that anybody can learn to do it. All might not be as good at it but they can do it. So many think art is only for a chosen few but I disagree. It's for anybody who wants to try and capture what they see with a media of some sort. They can then put as much of themselves into it as they choose. They can change things from what are realistic to something else. But I don't think everybody can paint good abstracts. I don't even agree that all the abstracts out there, from famous artists, are good. Some are taken to be good simply because critics said it was. Sometimes art is the Emperor's New Clothes. But that said, art and what is good is often very much in the eye of the beholder.

I hope that you take photos of your show. 20th Century Woman. I will be very interested in seeing it as I always like seeinng Parapluie's. I love how galleries or shows are hung. I also like plein air shows for that diversity you are talking about of the same scenes or what two people see somewhere and take different elements to paint.

Rain said...

oh and my reference to photograph was more meaning that if you can take a good photo, you can see the elements that would make a painting good also. I do consider photography to be one of the fine arts. When someone sets out to do a painting, they first have to find the subject and photography helps people do that.

Parapluie said...

A good abstract? Is that one that communicates a feeling? One that upsets is as good as one that makes me feel good and calm? To me a good abstract is interesting or makes me smile. Something I want to look at and plan other abstracts. Like my other paintings abstracts should be part of a series. They are interesting if there is something to develop further. The group is more important than any one of them.

Parapluie said...

20th Century Woman,
I am sure we are all aware the term abstract painting is understood to mean non-objective. It is about color, paint and not about depicting an object. Any random smudge or mark given our perception will start looking like faces or trees or what have you. It is difficult to keep a painting as non-objective as a grid.
Planning goals and shifting as I interact with the paint makes painting a journey. But some may like having a definate sure plan painting exactly what is in their mind's eye. Both ways are fine.

Rain said...

I didn't much like that word 'good' for it either but could not think of one word that said a particular abstract painting had been successful and worked in a way that I and others could see.

The idea of a series is interesting. You could write a book on this. Maybe you should write a book on this ;)

joared said...

I like some abstracts and found your two interesting, also your sharing your thought processes and personal view of them. I've never painted, though when I was a young woman I loved creating complex geometrical figures with the limited basic colors to which I had access.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I really like this kind of art. You did wonderfully well and the sheep got treats as well.