Abstractions are neither easily definable or easily accomplished.  I find that what I call an abstraction, meaning lifted out of the realm of the specific to the realm of the general, is not seen as such by others, instead, they are often called expressive works.  So, I have tried to continuing branching out with my paintings and drawings to test the limits of what is generally recognized as an abstraction.  The work with the forest aside Vulcan´s Pond is a good example of what I am talking about.  To me it is an abstraction as the idea of tree and pond is conveyed without any specifics. Others reply that it is obviously a landscape or ¨expressive work¨.  Thoughts?  

Views: 155

Comment by stephen mason on May 9, 2015 at 4:04pm

For me abstract art is about more than non specific. It is non representational. An expression of a feeling or a view which does not in itself obviously relate to what it represents. Something more personal than a picture of a thing. something less constrained then an interpretation of a view. Beyond the obvious,somewhere into the void that is pure expression,challenging,thought provoking, provocative. As with art generally there are boundless possible definitions and understanding. I believe that the need to compartmentalise and explain art is it's greatest enemy,to try to reign in and control by definition the purity of individual artistic expression is the death of art.  As a species we are moving ever more towards this position. A spotty canvas with a novel to support its existence is art but without the novel it's just a spotty canvas. There again what do i know other than my own opinion,maybe art is just opinion given and taken in the end. Beauty cannot be fettered.

Comment by R L Oliver on May 9, 2015 at 4:21pm

Some say it is non-objective, but to me that seems to limit things to geometrical shapes, which not only gets old quickly but limits beauty to the mathematical.  It seems to me that if it is illustrating an emotion or viewpoint then it is less abstract than an image that only expresses self and makes no such claim.  My question is are  abstracts both symbolic and non-symbolic?  Another form of writing/communicating but in a non-formal way?   e.g. doodles.

Comment by stephen mason on May 9, 2015 at 4:40pm

Yes . Abstracts are or can be symbolic and non symbolic,symbolism is in itself a form of abstract expression as it represents an idea or concept without literally being the thing itself. The question itself jars with me because it seeks to constrain and box the topic. Limits are just pages unturned for me, the hardest part is is opening the mind to the true beauty of artistic expressive freedom. Abstract does not need to be random expression with no connection to anything at all,it can be of course,that"s the beauty of it,it is in itself an open book to be utilised as a tool of creativity. Pin it down and you lose it's principle. As for art as communication the answer is 100% yes from me. Make of it what you will, don't justify,don't explain unless you feel the need. It is,that for me is enough

Comment by R L Oliver on May 10, 2015 at 3:09pm

I guess I was looking for a defensive stance... a big waste of time as you noted.

Comment by Desiree on May 13, 2015 at 11:57am

Isn't art (as well as beauty) in the eye of the beholder...? In the eye of the artist while creating, in the eye of the viewer while watching.

From a viewers point of view...However I love to read a little bit about what happened in the artists mind re to a piece, it doesn't determine whether the piece speaks to me or not, that depends on the colours, the shapes, the feeling it sends across. When looking to an abstract piece, I love it when I discover 'hidden thingies', like an eye staring at your, a weird creature or whatever...it might not have been put there on purpose by the artist, I still love it. And I think it is the freedom I have as a viewer to do so. 

From an artists point of view...To me, I create because I feel I have to, because it is a way to express, because I somehow got inspired and the inspiration seeks a way out of me. If somebody sees the piece and likes it, it's fine. If not, it's also fine...I can't nor want to say whether or not somebody else should like it or what to see in the piece. Sometimes, when I got inspired by a poem for example, I choose to put the poem in the description, to give credits to the poet and to give the viewer a little peek inside my head. But still, when someone watching the piece sees something else in it, gets a different feeling than I had while painting it, it is totally fine too. There's no need to explain art...and why should you unless someone asks it out of interest...In that case, just answer the question, not to convince the viewer. 

Oooh what am I trying to say here...lol...I think it is my opinion that freedom and respect go hand in hand...artists have a limitless freedom to express, viewers have a limitless freedom to see whatever they want in a piece...as long as respect is paid...

And about the question whether or not art is symbolic, there are some interesting theories / flows saying there is a hidden meaning behind which colours are picked, where items are put on the canvas, how strong the strokes are applied....so there can be a lot of information about the artist revealed,  even when the artist didn't mean to...:-) 

Comment by R L Oliver on May 13, 2015 at 1:51pm

A very thoughtful response. I agree that art is primarily subjective but I do think there are images that people universally respond to and thus they, in effect, become objective, e.g. peace symbol or dove.  I also agree that an artist does what he or she must do, i.e. share or express what is a part of themselves. It can be communicative, as in other symbolic languages, but since it is analogical information and has multiple meanings I don´t believe anyone can interpret or give a ¨correct¨ view of the work... they can only say what it means to them.

Comment by Carol Mary Weir on May 23, 2015 at 11:45pm

I want to move from representational art into abstaction, for me this is difficult, I always feel the need to understand and/or justify what I do, this is very limiting but also very real, I have made attempts to overcome this and am pleased with a few pieces i've done but then I also come up against a wall when trying to show or explain the work to someone else. Does this make sense to anyone or am I just rambling?  Also can anyone suggest any specifics that would help me to free up more in my artwork? Funnily enough when I posted one piece I did several years ago and entitled it Inspiration I put a description with my upload and found myself writing that I had just enjoyed putting colours down and watching them change as I progressed with layer upon layer of acrylic paint ....maybe that was reason enough for doing the piece?

Comment by R L Oliver on May 24, 2015 at 12:38pm

I would think so.  I have had the process explained as being similar to a mother expressing milk, it happens or it doesn´t.  So something that helps me is to work with quality heavyweight paper, soak it in water for a minute, let it drain until no more drops are coming off and then using the next ten or fifteen minutes to use liquid acrylic or liquid watercolor paints to express whatever is in the moment... minimal planning before doing. Then lift the paper and let the colors flow wherever. Lots of patterns and ideas have come from this.  You might want to try it.

Comment by R L Oliver on May 24, 2015 at 12:40pm

By the way, Stephen Mason has obviously given lots of thought to the process and his comments above are worth checking out.

Comment by Carol Mary Weir on May 24, 2015 at 1:06pm

Thanks R L Oliver, if that is what you like to be known by, I love the sound of your idea for me to try, I will definitely give it a go and let you know how I get on, may be a little while though as i'm in the middle of something and I don't have a lot of space to work in - really appreciate the suggestion though, thanks.


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