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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book review: Art Journey - Abstract Painting



North Light Books has a beautiful new volume out that was edited by Jamie Markle.  It's huge, and has the initial appearance of a coffee table book, but I couldn't possibly bring myself to call it that after I started reading and gazing my way through it.  Art Journey - Abstract Painting asks the featured artists to answer many probing questions that all of us probably have: what is the essence of abstract painting?  How much planning do you do?  What is your inspiration?  Let's look at how their answers broke down!

When asked about the essence of abstract painting, some artists explained that their work is totally non-representational.  Some spoke of emotions, experiences, and their own inner world.  Others focused on the elements of design like color, space, line, and texture.  But a large group of artists spoke more about "abstracted reality," with objects seen in a different way, fantasy "landscapes" or "still lifes," unrecognizable (or semi-recognizable) macro views.  These artists are inspired by everything from man-made objects to the natural world, but prefer not to be constrained by realistic representation.  



The answers to the question about planning were quite varied also.  "None at all" was not uncommon from the artists who like to work intuitively.  Others begin with an intuitive start and then work towards balance and unity in their piece.  Some others work out a basic composition and/or color palette, perhaps using an underpainting.  But some prefer to completely plan and work out their ideas with color studies, value studies, compositional sketches, etc.  The take home?  Don't think that you can't be an abstract artist just because you like to plan!

The media used in the artwork in this book included more pastels than I was expecting.  Pastel can be considered a drawing or a painting medium, and it was just a bit curious to me how many painters have adopted (at least in part) pastels.  Acrylic, watercolor, oils, ink, colored pencils, and ephemera appeared regularly.  
As for inspiration, that was a wonderful thing to read about!  There were works about everything from the "view out my kitchen window" to the perspective of an airline pilot!  The subject matter ranged from totally interior or geometry to exterior things like nature or the urban landscape.  This is a beautiful and very inspiring book!

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