The path to abstraction seems, at times a convenient way for me to avoid what I have always heard one should do – find what he does best and stick with it. In marketing, for example, a brand would determine its identity, package its product and target its audience. Beyond that the goal is to spin the original idea just enough to keep the brand interesting but not change it abruptly or dramatically. In my artistic endeavors I find the idea of choosing a lane quite limiting as the odds are stacked against one – simply due to the vast range of materials.
Like many an aficionado I am intrigued by art supplies. Putting ability aside, my findings indicate daily practice leads to a better understanding and usage of whatever material one wishes to master. Over time the plethora has been filtered and the range of potential materials has been narrowed. My short list of art materials consists of those most useful to me on the path to abstraction, which is the basis for my acrylic paintings.
I often say I do not wish to re-create nature in my art. The contradiction is I always find myself returning to natural subject matter and wanting to render it as I see it. This is not necessarily because I have a sentimentality about the subject or place but likely because I find something visually compelling about it. There is usually a quality that leads me to seek a depth of understanding or insight into a more complex system, for instance vistas, dense forests or an array of wildflowers.
It is not enough for me to simply look at or see these systems superficially. Only through an intense examination and emulation of the objects and places, by my own hand do I feel I have an understanding of what I see. The inviting forest grove appears soft and elegant. Upon deeper perusal it is a complex amassing of spiky forest debris and growth that is at once systematic and spontaneous. This appeals to me as much as any thought process, which is ultimately what I depict in my abstract art work.
In his day, the English Romantic painter William Turner used watercolors to sketch potential subject matter just as we use a camera or mobile phone today. From my perspective his initial study and sketching of the scene must have bonded him to the subject in a way that photography cannot do. Materials such as watercolor paint and graphite are methods for me to achieve the depth of understanding of a subject I feel is necessary in order to take the next step to abstraction. When I looked at Turner’s watercolor studies alongside his masterworks in oil it was clear he first and quickly recorded the essence of the scene with his own hand thus impressing salient details permanently in his mind. After I saw this exhibit (sometime around 2006) I began working in watercolor in order to gain some insight to everyday things I find mysterious, or at least graphically challenging.
In an acrylic painting I depict crystallization and thought (among other subjects) by juxtaposing strands of color in various patterns. The brush is wide and flat and the goal is to create a visual effect without specifics. Alternately, artwork I create using watercolor and graphite allow a deeper examination of subjects I seek to better understand. In this way I can make the leap to abstraction, but with a basis in reality.
It is my desire to create abstract acrylic paintings that express my thoughts on natural subjects in a unique way. The use of materials like watercolors to create artworks that represent what I see is essential in terms of deconstructing the object or scene. From there I can choose an aspect or quality that can be the basis for abstraction because I have documented those details by hand. This approach leads to a diverse portfolio, and also fulfills my need to explore different materials and techniques.
Thanks for reading. P.S. Life as an artist depends upon my generating revenue from art and graphic design. I welcome replies, inquiries and opportunities..
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