Have you ever wondered how to interpret abstract art? In my humble opinion, if an abstract painting is compelling, it will have something that retains your attention, draws you in, keeps you looking and generates an emotional and/or intellectual response.
Before I continue, I want to stop and define what I mean by abstract art. I am referring to two-dimensional paintings that do not contain any recognizable subject. To be more accurate, I am discussing about what is called non-objective art. Non-objective art is clunky to say and write, so bear with me as I use the easier phrase of ‘abstract art.’ My apologies if I offend anyone.
Some Questions You Could Ask Yourself When You Interpret Abstract Art:
Whether you like abstract art or not, consider theses questions as a place to start when you are viewing an abstract painting
- Am I trying to figure out what it looks like or represents rather than allowing something to emerge from what has been painted? [Read more…]
It was two weeks before my solo show “Unveiling the Invisible: Abstracts Sparking Your Imagination,” and my head was spinning with things I needed to get done. Feeling overwhelmed, I finally sat done and wrote out my “to do” list — again. I had written one out a few months earlier, but now it was time to know exactly all of the nitty-gritty things that I needed to get done.
Once the list was completed, I felt both relieved and discouraged. I started questioning whether I could actually check everything off the list within 14 days! After I took a deep breath, I felt more in control and confident. Flying by the seat of pants is not how I like to operate. Here is my studio a few days before I started packing 19 paintings.
What did my “To Do List” for the Art Show look like?
For nearly a year, an opportunity to create a new body of paintings for a one-person show had been on my calendar. The opening date was only two months away. Then I received an email that no one wants to receive. It told me that the venue was going out of business. Hence my show had been cancelled!!
Oh, WOW! Mentally and emotionally I went into a tailspin for about 24 hours.
For several weeks I had been painting intensely about a new concept for the show. The title was going to be, “Celebrating the Art of Wine & Spirits.” I love a good glass of wine and I do partake in a good martini periodically. This venue taught classes on wine and spirits, as well as hosted a number of different kinds of events. The subject was perfect.
This emotional tailspin after a show cancellation took me for a ride. Where did I go?
- A huge wave of disappointment flowed through me. Ideas for paintings had been swimming in my head for months and I was excited about putting them into paint on canvas. For nearly a year, I had been collecting images and taking photographs, sketching ideas, etc. Already, I was liking the results of my concept.
- Then I got angry. Interestingly, I was more upset with myself than I was at the business owner who had failed me. My negative brain chatter started beating me up with, “Why do you choose venues that are not successful for you?” And little of the poor me stuff rambled through my brain. I literally paced back and forth trying to grasp what had happened.
- Next, I got upset again because I had altered my entire Fall schedule to accommodate the date of this show. For example:
- The opening date prevented me from participating in a local regional artist studio tour;
- I also had to turn down another opportunity to show my paintings at a conference;
- A friend had written that she wanted to visit a couple weeks before the show and I said, “No,” because I knew that I would be too occupied at that time to enjoy her visit;
- My husband’s work was taking him to Dublin, Ireland at the exact same time, and I could not join him because of this commitment.
- I don’t think people realize how our lives are impacted when we artists schedule various events.
- Then I wondered, “What was I going to do with these paintings about wine and martinis? Was it a waste of my time?”
I know myself well enough to know that I have to go on this emotional and mental roller coaster in order to process it and get to the end. I need to feel what is going on and acknowledge these feelings. Perhaps it is not really an end …it’s a resolution. Denying my feelings is not helpful. Writing in my journal also helped in facilitating the process as well a talking with a compassionate friend.
I want to mention that I have never liked nor understood the statement, “Things happen for reason.” Why? Because it negates the feelings and thoughts of the person who is experiencing the unfortunate event. It is also another form of denial. Denying my emotions leads to festering and my body – particularly my stomach – does not like to fester. I also find the statement offensive because it indicates that the person making the statement is not willing to experience the fullness of humanity.
Finally, I arrived in a space where I had empathy for the venue owner. I knew her slightly and realized that her dream had not come true. She had tried for over 5 years to create a profitable and positive business. It was the bigger picture. Rather than responding to her via email, I called her. Fortunately she answered the phone. We had a wonderful conversation and shared a few tears. She told me at the end that she appreciated my “being gracious with her.” Down the road, we may connect again. I am glad that our relationship was maintained.
When I began surfacing from my emotional turmoil, I was able to realize that my subject matter had universal appeal.
There are potentially several opportunities to explore with my wine and spirits paintings and concept. I have had to ‘turn my ship around’ and begin to look beyond my original plan and start creating another. As in other similar similar situations, I began making lemon aide.
When something comes along that feels like a slap in the face or is totally unexpected, how do you react? How does it impact your creativity? Your artistic journey? It happens to all of us. Please feel free to share.
P.S. If you like this post and find it helpful, I’d love it if you’d pass it on via email or social media. You can use the buttons at the top and bottom of this post to share it.
When a new painting challenge comes along, how do you react? What do you do?
Last fall I contracted with a new gallery in Lake City, CO, an old silver mining and bubbling tourist town deep in the Rocky Mountains. In that contract I agreed to be an artist-in-residence for a week. This entails painting in the gallery for 4 hours every afternoon for 5 days.
I didn’t really think about this challenge until a couple of months ago as the start date got closer and closer (which is this weekend). The thought of standing for 4 hours in a gallery painting started to intimidate me …not only artistically but physically. How am I going to do this and can I do it? Do I want to do this? Painting for four hours in a gallery for five days? Yikes! [Read more…]