Last week I wrote about how metaphor is used in art to express emotions and frequently abstract ideas. That also applies to having an object or phrase or dance move that represents what otherwise could not be expressed.
In response to my post, several of my readers suggested that I explain some of my metaphors in my paintings. As I mentioned last week, an artist may not always want to explain their personal feelings that appear in their work, or sometimes they don’t know themselves what or how a particular object or scene appeared in their work.
But I will attempt this mission by starting with one of my favorite paintings by Salvador Dali. This could simply be a painting of woman looking out of the window.
But does it bring to mind any feeling or questions for you? It does for me. I wonder what she is thinking? Is she feeling lonely? She seems quite isolated in a bare room, but the view is lovely. Is she loving what she is seeing or does looking at the water make her wish she were somewhere else? We could go on guessing. Dali never explained his art, he just painted.
Here is one of mine that I will try to explain to you. I painted this while at a week-long workshop in Taos, New Mexico, a truly beautiful place to paint.
Obviously, beauty was not what I was feeling. I gave little thought to the subject matter of this painting. It just appeared on my canvas. What does it mean? Perhaps that life is fragile or perhaps one may want to be careful before trusting something that may seem appealing, but on closer look is not. This painting was the first one to sell at my exhibit in 2011. Several other people also inquired about buying the painting. I have no idea why it appealed to someone else, or why she bought the painting. It doesn’t matter.
Oneness as Metaphor
Many of my paintings have to do with oneness, individuality, being alone, freedom. I also have a thing for ladders and monoliths. I haven’t figured them out yet. How about you? Any metaphors in your creativity?
This past week I was in Phoenix, AZ attending Art Unraveled, a creative week of workshops and an art retreat that takes place every year. I always like to take workshops and classes. It helps me to grow as a painter when I can be inspired by new ideas. It is an adventure for me.
I spent my time taking classes from the abstract artist Joan Fullerton. Her style was fun, interesting, and effective. It is her belief that “abstract art encourages the imagination to run free. Inner and outer worlds collide making a space for new awareness to grow.”
Joan taught several mark-making and layering techniques that were what I was hoping for. We worked in mixed media which included acrylic paint and medium, acrylic paint pens, oil pastel, charcoal and ink. Each work started with random mark-making. We then used our materials to create whatever inspired us.
I worked on stretched canvas and watercolor paper. The paintings above and below are on stretched canvas. They both developed rather quickly, in about 1½ hours. They may be finished, but I never know when a painting is done until I have lived with it for a while.
They seem a little busy to me. What do you think?
It seems that at least once a year I decide that I want to try some new painting technique or content focus.
I know that part of being a painter is having an identifiable painting style, that special something that enables someone to look at a painting and know that it is by you, regardless of what the subject of the painting is.
It appears that you develop your styles as you go through your life as an artist. I’d like to think you can have many different styles if you want to, and those will likely change as you grow as an artist. I certainly hope so, because I like to experiment.
The area that attracts me the most at this time is abstract art. I have been experimenting with new forms and ideas as I try to get more into the conceptual. As of yet I can’t say that it has given me any particular sense of painting freedom, I am definitely working a new area of my brain which feels exciting.
Here is another example of my exploration into the unknown.
How about You? Do you have any experiments in your future?
When looking at any artwork, most people’s first thought or question may be, “What is this about?” That’s a good place to start, but it won’t take us very far when looking at an abstract work—unless we are willing to think more creatively. With abstract painting, sculpture, and photography the piece can be about the using particular materials, mood, emotion, color, shape, to name only a few examples.
In abstract art, the artist frequently uses a visual language of shapes, forms, lines and colors to interpret a subject, without necessarily providing the viewer with an unidentifiable visual image.
This is very different than traditional forms of art which set out to present a literal and more representational view of a subject and which relates to reality in some way.
Some say that abstract art engages and challenges the mind but it can also engage and challenge the emotions. To fully appreciate it, most of the time the viewer has to let go of a need to understand what the artist is trying to say and instead tune into their own feeling response to the piece.
The beginning of abstract art is usually assigned to the Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944).
Kandinsky believed that colors provoke emotions. Red was lively and confident; Green was peaceful with inner strength; Blue was deep and supernatural; Yellow could be warm, exciting, disturbing.
If you have not spent time with the art of abstraction, investigate a little a see what you think. I have not spent a lot of time with abstract art. I have done a few pieces and found the process to be very interesting and somewhat intriguing.
How about you?