Art isn’t about ‘why’! It’s about ‘why not’!!

In addition to being a truth I was recently blinded by the profundity of, yes, that’s a Portal 2 reference.Β  πŸ™‚Β  But I’m writing about art today.

I have long found it inexplicably difficult to paint in a certain abstract way.Β  While it seemed perfectly straightforward and understandable in technique, for some reason I could not bring myself to do it, even though I wanted to and tried to.Β  It’s a free and loose style of abstract painting, if you can call the broad swath of abstraction that I’m referring to a ‘style’.Β  My attempts to paint this way would invariably veer either toward my usual crisp, careful lines, or to abstract landscapes.

Some examples from other artists of the kind of thing I’m talking about:

"Rainbow Prism Colors" by Teo Alfonso

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unknown artist

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"Influence" by Chidi Okoye

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Most of the above it seems are being sold as ‘decor’, but personally I think they’re much more than that and I would not belittle them with that term.Β  They’re abstraction without a quickly determinable theme, if there is any, and that just seem a free and loose composition of colors and shapes.Β  And they’re stunning and beautiful!

Try as I might, my own attempts at this sort of thing always missed the mark, imo:

Mother's Day Painting

Mother's Day Painting, Acrylic on 12" x 9" canvas paper, May 2011

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Andlega Landslagi

Andlega Landslagi, acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas, November 2011

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Vaimse Maastiku, Acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas, January 7, 2012

Vaimse Maastiku, Acrylic on 11" x 14" canvas, January 7, 2012

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PatternsThatConnect does this ‘sort of thing’ fairly often, so out of my own frustration I asked him pretty much straight out how he does it.Β  He graciously answered, “I think it helps that it is small and on paper. It is easier then to feel like it doesn’t matter what it is or whether it is any good.”

In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves, Woah.Β  (‘immortal’ because he never stops saying it)

That was exactly what I needed to know!Β  I grabbed an 8.5″ x 5.5″ pad of paper I had and dashed out half a dozen small paintings on paper that don’t matter!Β  In a weekend!Β  And though there were a few missteps and regrettable color choices, they all came out pretty well I think!Β  It was a flood of creativity unleashed!Β  Finally I was doing ‘that sort of thing’!!Β  πŸ™‚Β  It was liberating!Β  It felt great!

Here are the first two:

Small painting #1, "Whale Shark" acrylic on 8.5" x 5.5" paper, February 3, 2012

The black shape, especially with the gold dots, seems to evoke a whale shark to me, giving the whole thing an underwater feel…

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Small painting #2, "Woosh!" acrylic on 8.5" x 5.5" paper, February 3, 2012

These could be clouds, or underwater, or things on the beach as a wave washes back out into the surf…Β  Whatever it is, it seems to have a lot of “Woosh!”

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Art isn’t about ‘why’! It’s about ‘why not’!!

  1. I love this, Zorgor. Abstracts to me are something I admire; to be able to pull something so visually fascinating from the mind. I just can’t fathom the talent and mind it takes to do such work.

    And there you go; you did it! I love the freedom in your two works. There is something about straight lines and absolute shapes, that I love, but then there is something also about flow that is so wonderful also.

    Thanks for those links too!

    • Thanks! “pulling it from the mind’ is a good description, because it’s really not difficult at all, once you’re doing it. (‘Duh’, right? πŸ™‚ ) I think it’s about cajoling and coercing the left brain to just get the heck out of the way so the right brain can just do it. Then you’re just doing, not thinking. Not what we usually think of as thinking anyway, left brain rational, logical, planning, verbal thinking. So it feels automatic, just doing, without ‘thinking’, and so it feels easy. So I don’t know about “talent” or “mind”. πŸ™‚ It literally just is: plopping some paint down, smearing it around, and seeing what happens. Going with the flow and just deciding what to do as you do it. It’s ridiculously simple — but it just cannot be done by rational thought. I think that’s what makes it hard — trying to do it the hard way.

      Abstract photography, especially the way you do it, takes a lot more thought than this…

      It can be hard to get the left brain out of the way though. Could that be where the admiration comes from? Have you ever noticed how if you take something you’re good at doing, and try to figure out how you do it so well, that then you mess it up? I think that’s the left brain trying to take over something the right brain is good at, which it has to to analyze it, and it gets messed up because the left brain is not good at it. This is what we call “over-thinking” it, right? So thinking at all about something like that is over-thinking it.

      Anyway I’m glad you like them and thanks for reading this ramble… I like the straight lines and perfect shapes too, and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep painting both ways… πŸ™‚

  2. TLS

    I love your style of painting though.. Clear and ordered with lots of symmetry. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! I must admit your comment made me go back and look through my gallery! I guess “clear and ordered” makes sense, my work isn’t really ‘muddy’ at all… Not sure about symmetry though. I guess there is some sometimes… But thank you for your thoughts! πŸ™‚ They made me think!

  3. I think you’ve got a really great developing style of your own, Zorgor, and you do things with paint that draw me in. Abstract isn’t traditionally my sort of style, but your work tends to hold my attention. That’s a great thing!

    Forgive me for not knowing, but what media do you usually use? I recently tried acrylic gel for my acrylics after seeing paintings with it in a gallery. Is that stuff ever fun! I’ve only tried one kind, the Heavy Gel, if I remember right. It is such fun because in the finished acrylic painting, it will hold peaks and textures. I chose the high gloss because I loved the idea of that shine on my painting. The paintings that I’ve seen done with these kinds of gels is just delicious to look at!

    Here’s a link to some of the different kinds you can try. They really put a fresh feel to painting. I hope to explore more of them in time, as I really love the kind I have. http://www.dickblick.com/products/golden-acrylic-gel-mediums/

    You may already know all of this, but these gels strike me as something you might like to try. I believe they make these sorts of things for oils, too. πŸ™‚

    Great post, and I think your work is right up there with the examples of abstract you posted. πŸ™‚

    • “Developing style” — yeah! Maybe perpetually ‘developing’, which would be fine with me. I’ve always wondered if “finding your voice” was a euphemism for being in a rut. I guess I won’t know until I find my voice! πŸ™‚

      I’m certainly glad this stuff keeps your interest and draws you in! Because I have no idea how I’m pulling that off!! πŸ˜€

      This is all heavy body acrylics. Well, a few fluid acrylics too. I’ve done a little with light modeling paste, which is the same gel you mention but with marble dust mixed in to take out the gloss. One of my ‘stalled’ paintings is practically a modeling paste ‘sculpture’ almost. Yeah, it’s fun stuff! I’m really not sure how I seem to have lost interest…

      Thanks! That’s quite a compliment! πŸ™‚

  4. I saw this post zip by a couple of days ago and since that time your examples have flitted through my mind from time to time unbidden. As I look at all the paintings on the page I do see a qualitative difference between the three examples you gave at first and your other work below. So of course my head goes to why I’m perceiving things as different. I think I’ve pinned this down to a couple of things.

    The first is the old photographic admonition of “fill up the frame!” Whenever I see the canvas or paper show through the paint, my mind throws up a (?) and whatever results seems unfinished.

    The second seems to go to complexity. In the top three paintings there are almost no areas of absolutely solid color. Every patch of color has texture or variation or color showing through from another layer.

    So clearly not a value judgement here but it does seem to be why I perceive the two sets as somehow different.

    • Nothing better than unbidden flitting! πŸ™‚ Yes, there’s definitely a qualitative difference — they’re a lot better at this than me! πŸ™‚ I’ve only just finally accomplished my first steps at this.

      Interesting observation with ‘fill up the frame’. I definitely do that with canvas, but this is paper. Paper tends to curl up as the paint dries — very annoying. That’s why I stopped using canvas-paper and, until this, now stick to actual stretched canvas. But these are small paintings that don’t matter — really. They’re very experimental, and painted on cheap stationary. Surplus from a place I used to work that went out of business actually. Still I am surprised that not filling up the frame rankles so. I also have to note that filling the frame with photography is usually a simple matter of zooming in more, no? These are not planned at all, not composed, except on the fly. So I’m not composing a frame filling view because I’m not composing anything here really much. Besides what’s wrong with a white background? πŸ™‚ If I used colored paper and did not paint over all of it, would it still look unfinished?

      The second seems less complex to me — I just started with a gray and raw sienna background, using glue clamps and a piece of plywood in an attempt to thwart the curl as that dried. The background does add interest, which is why I did it. This one does run off the paper and ‘fill the frame’ more.

      Good observation though about areas of solid color, or even tone, vs. texture in the 3 examples. These are choices. “Rainbow Prism Colors” is quite well blended and worked, like a good piece of writing vs. a mediocre one. I bet it’s done in oils, which lend themselves better to blending than acrylics, because they take longer to dry. With the unknown one with the orange and teal, the texture is a function of thin brush strokes over layers and layers of other paint. I like that, but again the artist’s choice. And I’m not going to attempt that on paper. On canvas maybe. Probably. Very likely now I think. πŸ™‚ “Influence” does have several areas of solid color, and uses underlying modeling paste for texture. But yes, I like this complexity and will be trying to go for that using these and other techniques, in the future, on canvas.

      So I think the differences you see boil down to experience and the amount of work and re-work. But excellent and very thought provoking observations! Thank you so much for that! πŸ™‚

I'd love to hear your thoughts and interpretations! Your comments and likes are what keep the paintings and posts coming. :)

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