Monday, May 30, 2011

Not Representing Anything

I enjoyed a brief little article in ArtSlant about painting abstract works (link below). It may be especially interesting to people who find abstract work intimidating because there appears to be nothing concrete to get one's head understand. But this article points out that even when the artist tries to be completely abstract there is always an element of "representation" meaningful to the artist...even if he doesn't realize it is happening. We paint who we are, can't help it.  Likewise, the viewer can choose to interpret the work in response to his own life experience. It becomes an interactive experience from all perspectives.

ArtSlant:  On Not Representing Anything

The painting above is an abstract work done progressively by 5 different painters in one of my Tao of Painting Workshops. The paper had marks on it to start and each painter took a turn at responding to what was in front of her, so there are 5 personal commentaries in this work.
What does it communicate to you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An alcohol-induced accident...

Reflecting.  12" x 12"  Pastel
This pastel had been hanging around the studio for months. It was started as a snowy landscape. I disliked it very much. Often with such problem pieces done on Wallis paper like one I just rub out the image and start painting again. The ghosting left from the first image is often inspiring and leads to something exciting. On this one I decided to drench it with alcohol spray...what possessed me I don't know.

I've long used alcohol to set a first layer of pastel. It does a nice job and dries quickly and takes a new thick layer of color beautifully. Sometimes I will put lots of alcohol to turn the pastel the consistency of paint and then paint into it with a brush. But this time I turned the piece upside down and just kept spraying and spraying until the colors ran together, dripped and splattered. The paper was buckled and warped. It was soaked and took nearly an hour to dry.

Hmmm. In addition to the dripping and running of colors, the texture of the Wallis kind of lifted in places. It looks and feels very sandy, not buttery like a normal pastel. I went into it gently with soft pastel in just a few places to accent a line or a shape, but mostly this is as I found it when dry, with just a tad of cropping.

I love abstractions but keep flip-flopping about whether this is anything beyond just interesting. Comments are welcome.