Sunday, 27 January 2013

Creating abstract art

 Crop from 1892

Arts Northeast is exploring a wide range of ideas and techniques in 2013 with printmaking under our belt and in January a session in palette knife painting.  February is abstract art and I thought I'd add my thoughts for members and anyone else interested in getting started in that area.

I'll preface my thoughts with the statement that I am not an abstract painter, but I enjoy being able to push representational art over the edge into impressionism and further still into abstract. Each move creates a looser interpretation of an idea of subject, but the underlying concept remains the same.  The piece above is crop of a small study, 8" x 8" of a piece named 1892, which was inspired by the Great Fire of 1892 in St. John's NL.

The technique of creating abstract art is no different than in creating any other type of art. Abstraction creates the essences of a subject rather than working in detail. Here are some ideas that help me when starting an abstract piece.

1.  You need a concept or a subject.
Everything in art begins with an idea. From that idea, more thought flows.  While most people do not think of abstract art has having a 'thing' as its basis, it usually does.  How it morphs into the final shape is a combination of factors and leaves a lot to the viewer to pull information from and make their own story around it.

2.  You need to decide on your tools
What colours are you going to use?  A limited range of colours?  A broader range?  Contrasts?  Low or high key? 

Are you going to add other mediums?  Paste?  Wax?  Embedded objects?

3.  Do your research
Even with a concept or subject, research becomes an essential tool to guide and provide ideas for direction.   Looking at abstract art from a wide range of artists is useful and provides a lot of information that can help put you on a path to your own piece.

Do an internet search for abstract art or I've found Pinterest or Etsy very useful in giving me hundreds of images and ideas.  Taking a idea from here and a colour combination from there, they form into something that is uniquely mine.

You can also work out ideas in digital image editors such as Photoshop, changing shape and colour. If you don't have photoshop, there are a number of free photo editing programs available that let you work on similar techniques.

4.  Start small
Studies are often seen as a waste of time but they are quite the opposite.  A small study completed prior to a large piece lets you work out your ideas without investing large amounts of time and materials.  It allows you to find the right palette and textures and work out techniques on a small scale.

5.  Exercise your abstract muscle
Browse the internet, magazines, gallery, art sites for abstract art and choose three favourite pieces.  Carefully think about why they appeal to you.  Is it the colour, shape, texture, emotion? 

a.  Choose a small size panel/paper, whatever you use no larger than 8 x 10 and recreate one of the favourites that you have chosen. 

b.  Choose another small support and now create an abstract piece based on your own thoughts and ideas.  Experiment, play with colours and textures.  Notice how the chroma of colours changes the look and feel of a piece. 

Let's see what the group produces at our next session on February 10th!

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