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The Abstract Exercise

August 19, 2012

A few days ago I realised how much I missed painting. I have been dreaming about a few spare hours that I could devote just for me and this hobby, yet there’s always something that needs doing „right now!“. The other night I gave in – half an hour and something abstract (30 minutes is ridiculously not enough, but that’s all I could „afford“…).

All this turned into a little exercise and the results might not even be worth showing, but lets look at it as if it was just some learning process.

I went for a small canvas (apparently this was a mistake) and thought of some quite abstract words: summer, heat, fresh air, colours – everything we are going to miss in a week or two.

For you to judge: “Summer?” 2012 Canvas 20x15cm

These days the galleries might be full of abstract artwork, yet abstraction isn’t the most popular artistic mode. Why? I’d guess that is just because people don’t know what to make of it. I’m not a great fan of abstract art, I’d always go for something in between – something I can recognise, yet  painted in an unusual way or using brighter colours (have a look at fauvism), but I must admit that throughout the years I have seen abstract paintings that I really loved.

According to Tom Zeit abstraction “presents a distinctly different way for artists to convey their ideas” and it also “expands your imaginative abilities, because it forces you to think about your ideas in ways that don’t mimic the objective world, it requires you to see in unfamiliar ways”. Could you think of a better way to exercise your imagination? If not, here are a few ideas that should help you with your abstract project:

– Look inside, not out – concentrate on your own feelings and experiences and see what they suggest.

Visit the masters – as an exercise, break down a masterwork into individual shapes, ignoring the details, to get a sense of how the picture is composed. Redraw the shapes yourself (or assemble them in paper), then try rearranging them altogether.

Start in black and white – for beginners at abstract work, it’s often easier to concentrate solely on shapes and composition before moving on to working with color.

Focus on space – try to see each element as a part of the overall balance.

Make it big – when artists lack confidence, they tend to work small. Don’’t be afraid to start with big shapes so you can stand back and evaluate them.

Doodle – whether on paper or in clay, whether completely open-minded or with a vague idea in mind, begin with simple doodling and you’ll get a glimpse of where your ideas might lead.

Hope these tips, that were found on Artists’ Network, will encourage you to have a go at creating something abstract and exercising your imagination. Have fun!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. blackoryx permalink
    August 19, 2012 9:22 pm

    I really want to do some painting myself but I’ve been struggling with what to paint. Words, poetry, feelings might be a good start. Using shape, colour tone and texture symbolically.
    Your painting certainly cunjures heat and haze and light. Did you use oils?

    • August 20, 2012 9:30 am

      Hello. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      I know the struggle called “what to paint” really well and I’d say that first of all to concentrate on your emotions and things that you find beautiful, inspiring, interesting would be a step in the right direction. Also don’t think about the outcome, just enjoy the process.

      I’m glad that looking at my little “experiment” you could see heat and haze, and light. That’s brilliant! It means that on the emotional level it worked well.


      P.S. I almost forgot – I used acrylics.

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