Monday, 21 March 2011

Abstracted by the abstract

I go to a lot of art workshops. I've been to many over the years. I have learnt a lot, hands on, and always come away with more knowledge and more experience, which adds to my expertise as an artist. I always say that I can paint anything for anybody, and a lot of that is because of the diverse subjects using diverse mediums I have learnt at these workshops.

So, you would think that maybe I've learnt all there is to know, by now.
And you would be wrong. Very wrong,  to think that, because art is such a vast subject, that I don't think any artist could learn everything in one lifetime.

And you would think that going to these workshops for so long I must have learnt everything I should need to know by now, and sometimes I think that must be the case........

.....and then we had a day like the one last Saturday, which turned everything on its head. Totally.

I knew it was going to be a good one. Even before I went. It was about "Abstract". And that's a difficult enough subject on its own. But I do abstracts already, and enjoy them, and have painted enough of them for other people, who also enjoy them. But, what I have done in the past is the first step into abstracts, and that is when I've taken an image, a photo, of a tangible, solid thing (well, not too solid, in the case of the fannies!!! tee hee!!!) and made the realistic image an abstract in that I've changed the shapes, or the colours, to hide the image, so that those in the know, know what it is, but those not in the know (children and the more innocent amongst us) only see innocence in the art. And I must admit I love that aspect of the work I've done. So, I went along to the workshop with experience under my belt. But I also knew we were going into areas of which I hadn't got any experience, since I've never painted pictures of this new and more exciting subject matter.

There were 11 or so other people attending, and all women, I noticed. Don't men paint abstracts I wonder?

And during the course of this workshop we only spent two hours painting out of the six, and normally I would be tearing at the bit at that point, because as far as I am concerned, the whole point of being there is to paint and be creative. But this time, I didn't mind, not at all, as I was learning. Learning about abstracts.

About painting an abstract idea in an abstract way.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Until you think about it, really think about it,  when someone asks you to paint "Happiness" and then put a colour to it. Just one single colour. And that was one of the easier emotions to do (for me, anyway!). The first picture here is depicting eight abstract notions - reading from left to right -happiness, sad, anger, misery, feminine, depression, elation, frustration. To start with we were asked to "make marks" with a pencil for each of the concepts. "Happiness" was easy for me, its a burst of wow followed by a large elongated circle rising up and reducing as it flows away. "Sad", "Misery" and "Depression" were more difficult as they're not emotions I dwell on if I can avoid it. And I found it interesting that I depicted "Anger" as a solid cube with bursts of high activity above it. But, of course, everyone else in the class had their own interpretations of each concept, and none was right, or wrong, just different in each of us. I liked the fact that femininity for me is bright, scarlet red, not pink and wishy washy. And that depression was muddy colours, and yet happiness was bright and cheerful yellow. How interesting, and revealing too! Psychologists would have a field day with this one!

The tutor went on to show us her ideas for painting more abstract ideas, like music, maths,  time, and motion. This got me thinking, and when we were able to start painting, with only two hours of the session left, I knew I wanted to paint "Time", but do it my way.

I stood and thought of the visual aspects of time - clocks, daylight, sun and moon, and then about clocks ticking, alarm clocks, the numbers on a clock face, but also the numbers that relate to months, years, weeks, and days. And started to come up with an idea for a painting, a working concept, that depicts time and all the things related to it. The picture here was conceived, drawn, created, and finished within two hours. It could be painted a lot better, and more subtly and perhaps with more ideas added to it. But as a working painting, its a good one. And it surprised me how involved I got in it. Because, whilst I was doing it, I let a cup of tea go cold. Now, that may not sound like much to you, but I love my tea, hot, sweet, fragrant tea. Nothing much stops me from drinking it, except being totally and utterly enthralled with a piece of painting. And that was the case with this picture. And not only that, but someone told me my shoe lace was undone, and I nodded in acknowledgement, but I was too busy to bend down to do it up, too busy to go to the loo, too busy to talk to anyone, or go and look to see what they were doing, too rapt in my art. Time was ticking, both literally, and in my painting.

We had to finish by four o'clock, a reminder of time and its importance. I stood with the others at the end and saw what they had painted, and felt a huge stirring within me. And when the tutor was thanked for the workshop she had given us, I added out loud to it, that I had been to many workshops there, but few had touched me as deeply as this one. And I meant it. Its deep. And its got me.

But then, its hardly surprising, when I come home, and I'm busy painting "Wind" in the oil painting I'm working on at the moment. Now, if that's not abstract, I don't know what is!!!!! 

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