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Thread: Abstract

  1. #1
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    Abstract

    Hello all! This is my first post here, and I was wondering if anybody had any comments on some of my works! I am not a trained artist, and have been having a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to 'improve' and push my art to the next level. Can anybody give me any advice or recommend any great books that might help me out? Thanks! Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks!
    -Andrew

  2. #2
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    Based on your question and looking at your past efforts here, you look like you want to take it to the next plateau. And that means a bit of a paradigm shift. . . if such is your interest. If not, consider what you paid for this conversation, and ignore me. :-)

    If you have eyes and look at things as an artist would, you're a trained artist as far as I'm concerned because we most often learn way more from observation and other people's work and most of all doing art than from a formal class, especially from what I remember from classes that 'teach' abstraction.

    There's really nothing to teach in abstract art. All a class or book will give you is technique and/or a history lesson and slides showing which artist has done what in the past and perhaps how it fits into the historical timeline.

    By the time something is in a book it's old already. And from the world you want to absorb everything and toss out what doesn't work for you and sooner or later when you have your own thing going, you will be the one writing the books and doing the demonstrations and giving talks if that's what you want.

    Abstraction is infinite in the possibilities. So the key from what I have experienced and observed is that you have to decide why you want to pursue that path. And if you know what you want to get out of it, you will be more likely to stay on track and get it.

    Don't take this as an insult because there are people who would say 'yes' to some or all of the following questions. And since I don't know you, nor is that important, I'm posing the questions as a sample because these are some questions that might help you aim your energies:

    Are you after camaraderie of living the lifestyle of the rebel artist with like minded people?
    Is it about being elite and intellectual?
    Is it about not having to learn to draw and paint the long, conventional way?
    Did you see something and say to yourself that you could do that without blinking, hoping to look talented and/or cash in?
    Do you want to invent something new and gain stature in the history books?
    Do you want to make objects of art that decorate an interior?
    Do you want to make money from a hobby in retirement or perhaps even as a primary career?
    Do you like pushing colors and shapes around as a method for self-discovery?
    Do you want to experience the fun of it?
    etc etc. . . Your question says to me you're looking for more than a little fun on the side.

    So is there a book for you? Heck if I know. But I would start going through Google Images and so searches for Art (and find out what some of the art movements are and then search ones you like). Then find the name of a few artists you like and then narrow your search. And then you go around the internet reading what you can find on them. You will gravitate to the ones you like and it will save you time in getting a really solid starting point. Also, you will often find techniques by going across disciplines. You can pick things up from anyone from technical illustrators to sarcophagus painters.

    You'll know your path based on where you are on it if you're watching as you go.

    I don't want to sound crass about it all. It's the truth as far as I know it to be. But I am a firm believer in knowing what you want and then going for it. And having fun with it, or whatever motivates you is key because that will sustain your journey.

    Good luck.

    And the stuff you put up shows talent, interest and an awareness of what others have done. So it was time well spent. I would think that this exploratory part of the journey is going to be super enriching and a blast.

    Hope you share your journey with us here as well.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  3. #3
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    Wow! Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate the time you spent on such those thought provoking questions. I think you are right, that I do wish to get more out of my art then just merely 'enjoyment'. I think what is my stumbling block as of now is this. I am deeply connected to the contemporary music world, and whenever I listen to/perform works that are written by lesser trained composers, it is immediately apparent that the composer needs more formal training to be able to express him/herself more clearly through their music. Because all I have been doing is looking at other's works (Motherwell, Friedman, Fisher), I feel a bit self conscious that my works are being viewed by other's as not up to par to the standard of contemporary art.

    But I really appreciate your feedback. Some of the questions that I have been pursuing when I am creating are:

    1. who really is creating when I am painting? My immediate self? or my subconscious self? Or the 3rd person perspective of the viewer as I paint?
    2. Is it important for me to be able to see the work fully before I put the brush to paper? Is it a cop out for me to just paint expressively and worry about the procedure, but not the outcome?

    I welcome anymore of your feedback for further conversation!

    -Andrew

  4. #4
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    Here are 3 more recent ones. Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by squishytongue View Post
    Wow! Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate the time you spent on such those thought provoking questions. I think you are right, that I do wish to get more out of my art then just merely 'enjoyment'. I think what is my stumbling block as of now is this. I am deeply connected to the contemporary music world, and whenever I listen to/perform works that are written by lesser trained composers, it is immediately apparent that the composer needs more formal training to be able to express him/herself more clearly through their music. Because all I have been doing is looking at other's works (Motherwell, Friedman, Fisher), I feel a bit self conscious that my works are being viewed by other's as not up to par to the standard of contemporary art.

    But I really appreciate your feedback. Some of the questions that I have been pursuing when I am creating are:

    1. who really is creating when I am painting? My immediate self? or my subconscious self? Or the 3rd person perspective of the viewer as I paint?
    2. Is it important for me to be able to see the work fully before I put the brush to paper? Is it a cop out for me to just paint expressively and worry about the procedure, but not the outcome?

    I welcome anymore of your feedback for further conversation!

    -Andrew
    Interesting using the comparison with music. I don't know if it's exactly the same with visual arts. It similar and it isn't depending on what one is after. If an artist is making really big mistakes according to a classically trained one, the artist can call it a technique or part of their honest process. That's why there are artists who do process art. They just flail around waiting to see what happens as a way of going into new areas to see what would happen. And that's their thing. But there were musical artists like that too like John Cage who was known at one point to come out in a concert and sit down in front of the piano and do nothing. And the 'music' or 'sound' was the audience's spontaneous reaction over time. Is it any good? Would you want to keep repeating that? Would you want to re-package that 'act' and call it your own? I have no idea. I don't personally see the point if it's doing the same thing. If it's breaking new ground, then perhaps it's useful. And if it breaks open a whole new paradigm to call your own and you put the work in doing it following your own curiosity, then you're on your way.

    It takes a certain consciousness. But I think some of that experimental stuff is just that. And not all experiments mean anything. And if it's to discover something, then once it's discovered there may be no reason to replicate it. But a lot of artists who have big names are emulated because they had big names. They're just people who have hot and cold periods, who are young and vigorous and later get old and get hooked in by their marketability if they reproduce the same old same old.

    I think a problem is when one is trying to emulate another artist in a deliberate way looking at their chops when in fact the original artist was not operating in that space. The original artist was usually deliberately doing something, reacting to a need or opportunity that existed when they were doing it that no longer exists for the emulators. So often then the emulations become a bit affected like an air guitarist. They're stuck pantomiming to existing songs that musicians created. But they're pretending for the fun of it, and the full depth is diminished. Still fun for those folks that are into dress up and pretend, but some people are into medieval pageantry and mock battles too. And it takes on a life of its own. On the other hand, rather than being a put down, in a very fundamental way, Art is arguably a form of fantasy too.

    I think there's the other musical analogy where you have all these musicians in Rock. Many of these people studied chops like those of old Delta Blues or Hendrix or Chuck Berry and can play technically better in some cases. Are they superior to the originators because they can perhaps play certain licks cleaner? Heck no. But they aren't inferior either. Context is different so every game is different. Nobody will be Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry except them. You doubtless know that there are bunches of amateur guitarists who can play that stuff, and some of them really well.

    But it's not exclusively about the technique. That can be learned and copied. It's where one goes with it thereafter once one learns -- or doesn't learn those ways. Unless that aspiring artist is coming from a culture that has been untapped, the artist is most likely to succeed learning technique, but not as a slave but as a means to their own expression, which could conceivably mean that they would throw the technique out when and if they hit upon their own style. But one can't react to something if they don't experience and understand it.

    No, there's an intangible component to the real stuff. There is no substitute for personal circumstances and life experience and dedication and doing it. And the people who are now big names in music who started out copying the big names will ultimately make the chops their own and modify them to serve their own artistry. . . unless they're in a boy band where they are the face of a corporate package and are told what to do every step of the way like marionettes. One needs to take it farther if they are going to be worth their salt.

    As to your existential questions about who is painting, I would say it depends on where you are in your evolution. Not saying you are, but if one dabbles, then they will be accessing a certain part of themselves. If one is so steeped in it where you do it and do it and do it, they're going to be accessing something closer to the source. I don't know your attitude about archetypes or divinity or being in the zone or dipping into the subconscious, or picking up on transmissions filling the universe, or what paradigm of creativity you're working with, but without being shut down, in part tightening one's focus creates the opportunity for a laser-like effect. But the conundrum is that if one is over focused on that part of it, it's also a creative killer because it no longer becomes about doing the Art and becomes about the self. And while that may be great for personal growth, it could stifle one's creative flow.

    So there's all that. But the last thing I'll mention here is that a lot of famous abstract artists who suddenly got discovered, that notoriety, certainly in the case of the Abstract Expressionists, were created by people who invested in them heavily when they were broke and selling their work for peanuts and then built up their reputation. And suddenly their investment made them richer than rich. So there's that route, going with the star-maker machine, and playing that game for the fame and wealth (which is certainly legit), or you stay out of that for a while anyway until you get where you want to go naturally and use Art as a personal vehicle. . . and then later when you're pleased with it yourself, then you can move into the world.

    Hope this sheds a little light on a very complex subject. Each point in your questions could be several whole conversations in themselves. But those are the things that stimulate and some of those questions need to be answered with a brush lest it become all about the words.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  6. #6
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    You are on a wonderful roll here Mr Dakey, and it's very interesting and provocative, to me anyway.

    If I may I'll add my three cents worth:

    "Art is an enquiry in to the nature of things." I can't remember who said that(!) but it is wonderful theme to keep at the back of my mind while I paint.

    "Painting is only a bridge linking the painter's mind with that of the viewer." I think that's Delacroix. It's important to me because it reminds me that no work of art stands by itself, it is always a conversation between the creator (small 'c') and the viewer, listener, reader, toucher etc. Another wonderful theme to keep at the back of my mind while I paint.

    Marcel Proust tells the story of the young French aesthete who was appalled by his bourgeois family home and its ugliness. The young man dreams of palaces, and chandeliers and diamond door handles. Proust's solution was to take him to the Louvre but not to look at the gorgeous paintings of palaces but to look at Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. Why? Because Chardin makes the everyday beautiful. If Chardin worked his magic then the young man could go back to his home and see that it really was beautiful after all. It is a wonderful gift to be happy with what you have and also deeply subversive; it means you can step off Edward Bernays "Happiness Machine" and the consumer-producer hamster wheel. Another wonderful theme to keep at the back of my mind while I paint, and a wonderful purpose for me as an artist.

    Good luck with your travels as an artist. It's wonderful!

    In peace

    Brett
    Last edited by hypotaxis; 09-21-2013 at 10:08 PM.
    Visit my gallery here.

    =========

  7. #7
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    Andrew, to me, I think certain things are still unclear about what you want. To start with what we know--
    You mention hearing the lack of training in some musicians, so you're obviously pondering whether you need some training in the visual arts yourself. You also mention that you "feel a bit self conscious that (your) works are being viewed by other's as not up to par to the standard of contemporary art" which pretty clearly implies that you'd like your work to be viewed as "up to par". Finally, you say that you wish to get more out of art than merely "enjoyment" and that you'd like to "take it to the next level."

    So, I guess I'd respond with some questions of my own. None of these are intended to sound facetious or overly leading, btw. I've asked myself all these questions repeatedly, and have gotten varying (different) answers over the years--

    1) What is the next level? What does that mean to you? Showing in galleries? Making a living selling your work? Being appreciated artistically by someone who's critical opinion you particularly value? I think those three questions can have pretty different outcomes.

    2) What does it mean to be "up to par to the standards of contemporary art" and why does that matter to you personally? Is that where your heroes/ idols artistically are and you'd like to join those ranks? Is it because they hold the keys to being able to sell your work and be part of that community of artists? Is it because you feel like you don't really know what you're doing and you feel that education will help you resolve that concern?

    3) What are you hoping to get out of painting beyond the enjoyment of of it, if enjoyment is not enough?


    So, now the opinion part on Education-

    The first form of artistic expression that I ever explored aggressively was writing, poetry mostly. So I've come to painting with those experiences leading me, not music, as it was for yourself. I am unsure if you went to school to study music, though I know a number of people who did, and it killed the love of making music right out of them. It did not make them better musicians, but rather more learned musicians. It was the same for most of the writers I ever knew who got a degree in writing. I can only imagine that playing a lot would make you better, as it is for almost any art. Of course, I am sure there are, as well, many, many celebrated musicians who went to school and studied music. I just don't know any personally.

    My experience with writing was that studying writing helped my expand my horizons, and helped me to better judge the value of my work from the outside looking in. I learned about a lot of different writers and how they had approached language. I read about their thoughts and the times in which they lived, and how that affected their output contextually. I developed my own opinions over time as I learned more. Personally, all the artistic value I got out of school was based on my exposure to other artists-- very little had to do with my writing. My writing I did as a separate hermetic, then social, endeavor that was informed by my academic experience. It's hard to express, but perhaps studying writing made me a better thinker-- it definitely made me a more informed thinker-- but I feel that it only improved my writing by a) osmosis (i.e. reading), b) stimulating critical conversation, and c) experiencing a like-minded community of language lovers, which helped to foster and validate a love of the word in me, when I was younger and felt that was an impossible desire. Basically, schooling gave me some tools. Writing more, exposing it to other writers, and reading more made me a better writer.

    Now, I'm in my late 30's, and I've taken to painting in recent years as well as writing. Am I going back to school though? No. 1) I'm older and don't feel the need for that sort of validation-- I'm capable of producing work on my own, whatever its merit artistically, 2) I slowly became disenchanted by the machine that grinds out bland, superbly crafted, "acceptable poesy" from various MA workshops, and 3) I have other responsibilities now that I find more important (fatherhood, etc). I feel that many of the tools and experiences I discovered in college the first time around would be the same tools I would discover the second time around- that critical thought and a desire to learn is what will really drive you forward through your artistic life and help you to create anything of real veracity; that an artistic community is exhilarating and fleeting when you find it, but amazingly hard to find even so, even after decades; that exposure to more art is central to understanding art better and "seeing" more clearly what it is you want to express.


    Now, having said that--
    Still, I guess there is real value in going to college to get an Art degree on a professional level. There are just certain basic doors that don't open up unless you've got the piece of paper that proves you've got the balls and the guts to jump through the burning hoop. And I mean nothing negative about that. It's just a fact. In many ways, BA's, etc. are a weeding process. It's as much about the will as it is about the mind.

    I design and build gardens for a living. It's a fun thing to do, it's environmentally focused. However, I have thoughts sometimes of selling my art, perhaps painting more murals, etc. so I've got nothing against a person making a buck from their art making. A person has to spend their time doing something with their waking hours, and if one's desire is to spend one's time, say, painting, then selling those paintings becomes, logistically, part of that vision, IMO. For that, who knows-- perhaps going back to school would help with that??? That's hard for me to say.


    So how does this apply to you?
    Your current work is abstract. You clearly like exploring the process of making art, and are less focused on the product. I understand that completely, as that process of exploration informs a lot of my work. Pollock is interesting for a reason. "Play" is interesting because its fun and life is short. Embedding that in your artwork is exhilarating, and some other people see that and agree. None of that sounds particularly marketable or "learnable". It sounds joyful and hermetic and personal.

    You mention things like going to school to learn more, or whether, in essence, your stuff is up to snuff. You want to take it to the next level. But all of that sounds, well.... professionally focused. ?? (As before, I have nothing against that. If I were to paint more murals, and do it professionally, I would be as much of a craftsman as an artist. But I would get to paint more....)

    Basically, my take is that I feel like there is some sort of dissonance between the (interesting) artistic work you are producing, how you feel about it, why you do it, etc. and all the reasoning I can think of for why one would want to go to school, take it the next level, abide by the standards of contemporary art, etc. If you were producing, say, graphic art, anatomical sketches, etc. ... i.e. something I thought was, well, marketable, then I could see the reason for schooling. But I'm unsure what your reasoning is here for that.


    Poetry, Abstract Art, and Money-
    I feel like part of that dissonance may come from the fact that you are involved in the contemporary music scene, and that usually is (by my artistic standards) a very public and marketable forum. Many more people seem to make a buck in the music business than do in the art or poetry business. I come from the perspective of a poet, where there is basically no market, and no one is ever going to get very famous or make any money, even if they have the luck to get something published. Its just a fact. You do it to express and create something, and if you can get it published somewhere or get a few other eyes on it, then bully for you. In that sort of environment, you quickly learn to love the making of the art-piece more than the selling of it, or you wither away and stop writing. As such, that's much my perspective on abstract art. I feel like yours is different, but it's not quite clear what you are aiming for....

    Perhaps you could tell us more about where you're coming from?
    Check out and submit to the thread on Watercolor WIPs in Artrage-- lots of good tips and conversation
    My YouTube video tutorial series- How to Paint with Watercolors in Artrage
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    Don't take this as an insult because there are people who would say 'yes' to some or all of the following questions. And since I don't know you, nor is that important, I'm posing the questions as a sample because these are some questions that might help you aim your energies:

    Are you after camaraderie of living the lifestyle of the rebel artist with like minded people?
    Is it about being elite and intellectual?
    Is it about not having to learn to draw and paint the long, conventional way?
    Did you see something and say to yourself that you could do that without blinking, hoping to look talented and/or cash in?
    Do you want to invent something new and gain stature in the history books?
    Do you want to make objects of art that decorate an interior?
    Do you want to make money from a hobby in retirement or perhaps even as a primary career?
    Do you like pushing colors and shapes around as a method for self-discovery?
    Do you want to experience the fun of it?
    etc etc. . . Your question says to me you're looking for more than a little fun on the side.
    I just wanted to follow up by saying, D Akey, that (with a word substitution here or there) this is a fantastic list of questions that probably encapsulates about probably 90% of what any artist in any form has asked themselves, been driven by at some point. I sure know I have. It's funny how sometimes art-making, poetry-making, etc. can feel very lonely, hermetic, non-social, and yet here you are posing these questions and it's like you've pulled them out of my brain.

    I wish others could see this list, and that they might have to revisit it every 5-10 years to focus themselves and figure out why they're currently making art.
    Check out and submit to the thread on Watercolor WIPs in Artrage-- lots of good tips and conversation
    My YouTube video tutorial series- How to Paint with Watercolors in Artrage
    Try out the free
    Artrage Pen-Only Toolbar to improve your workflow and reduce clutter
    List of other good tutorials on using watercolors in Artrage
    List of good sticker sprays for watercolor effects in Artrage

    My blog- art, poetry and picture books- http://www.seamlessexpression.blogspot.com/

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