Abstract Beginnings Notes
All paintings have abstract beginnings in my view. From the abstract expressionism so popular again now to the very refined of realism, it is all starts with the abstract. Some are starts, which I enjoy and some are block ins that all painters begin with. I’ve been studying this process for a long time. I am a mass painter in that I see objects in large masses of value and shapes. I tend away for linear form except for fine tree limbs and final details of a painting. It is that gradual transition from the abstract to the refinement that separates a lot of styles. That is the intrigue for me. I’ve never really had any interest in being a true abstract painter. I like the natural world too much to abandon it for vague shapes and colors, though I completely respect those who paint that way.
My study method is a beginning in abstract shapes values and colors, moving along in that vein until the end is near. I like to add refinement where I want the attention of the viewer to rest for a moment. My goal is a transition around the painting between abstraction to semi-abstraction and to fine detail where it is warranted. I like clean paint and mud where it is intentional, not by poor brushwork. Perhaps that is why my love affair with alla prima has faded. I don’t like sloppy brushwork whether it is refined or of a loose quality.
It is more of a mindset in the process than any major process changes. In other words, my mental approach to the method is different. I start with the idea of doing a painting, using spare information. Just enough to tell the story and make it viable for my studies. The larger painting is approached in the same way, but varying amounts of detail or refinement are added as needed to produce a finished work. Using this method is making me more accountable for my detail additions. I have to think about what is really necessary, rather than moving forward with detail in an unmeasured way. I like this process very much. Further study is needed of course, this is just a different method of painting. Shaking up the old dog with some new ideas is always a good idea. I would never want to be a rote or complacent painter. I never want to learn everything. I want the quest for excellence to go on as long as I can hold a brush.
It is important that painters understand that they may never be a master painter. I never will but it does not deter or depress me.There will always be painters who can out paint me all day long. I think painters spend too much time thinking about their pecking order or who is better, or who they are better than. The art world has become too much about contests and position. Really! Who cares who is better? No one paints like me and I can live with that. I don’t have to be the best or even good. As long as I have a desire to learn my craft and as long as folks like my work and buy it, I am successful. I am doing what I adore with my life, meeting splendid people who believe in me and my work. I don’t think prestige is all that important. I have a big resume but I haven’t been asked for it in years. Our work is our name. Standing in front of that easel and working at it every day is what counts. As long as I am improving and working hard, I am a success!
These experiments with abstract beginnings are sometimes successful and sometimes not. I have a burn pile on my land a few steps from the studio. Lots of canvases go on it as I progress through various experiments and techniques. Some turn out good, luckily. There is a lot about our world that is from abstract to refined, and all in between. I’ll keep working at it.
More musings for artists and collectors to come….