The Truth about Abstracts
We've all done it, walking through a gallery or art show saying, “I could do that”. An abstract seems easy. It doesn't HAVE to look like anything. Anyone could do it. Well, anyone can make a painting that doesn't look like anything, that's true. However, the rules of good art still apply, and you might be a little more likely to pull it off if you know something about what you are doing. So I, respectfully suggest – Maybe, you could not do that.
This Saturday I am debuting 2 large abstracts at Thoughtrobbers Gallery, at the Artsy Fartsy Market. In this blog, I will share some of the work in progress photos and information about my process. You can be among the first to see the finished paintings by attending on Saturday.
So how do you do it?
First you need a concept. Abstract yes, but usually an abstract about something. Recently, I was inspired by the 4 elements of matter. Fire, water, wind and earth - I am starting with Fire and Water. I completed a gorgeous fire motif 2 weeks ago, so I planned to use that technique again. I started with 2 small studies of 'Water' to decide which technique would go best in the series. Once I decided which look I wanted to use, I had to practice making it work across a wide expanse. Watercolor dries quickly, so I had to work quickly to ensure success on the final piece.
At some point you have to decide on a color scheme. Throwing all the colors at the paper can quickly result in mud. Even if you do want to use all the colors, you'll want to consider which ones you will allow to mingle and blend and which should be kept apart. I mentioned that I had completed a successful fire painting – It was vivid and bright! However, I wanted to use a color that I could repeat in all 4 elements, and that brilliant orange was not what I had in mind.
For this series, I chose rust and turquoise hues. These will be the only 2 pigments for all 4 paintings and the color scheme will tie them together. Turquoise and rust for earth you ask? Why yes, mix them together and you get gray. That gray will harmonize with the turquoise and rust pigments because those colors are mixed to create that gray. A photo of the color swatches and my studies are in the gallery below.
I'll spare you the rest of the endless details that went into this 2 artworks. Hopefully, you get the idea that a bit more goes into an abstract then you may have thought. Not to mention, things that I can do quickly and consistently are a result of years of practice. If an artist makes it look effortless, chances are a lot of effort went into all the stages you never got to see.
You still don't like it? - That's something entirely different. You won't like it all and that's okay. That still doesn't mean you could do it.
One more ingredient in a successful abstract – A Lifetime of research – Wait, say what?
Final photos of Fire and Water and an explanation of this outrageous statement next week.
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Info about the show on Saturday below.
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Melissa Tai is a lifelong creative, nature lover & tree hugger.