Tag Archives: abstract

Abstract Photography

Guest post by Tim Anderson
For more than 30+ years I had been photographing landscapes, portraits, nudes, etc. More recently, I have shot several times at the historic Albuquerque Railyards (Santa Fe Railway Shops, below) using models and conducting workshops. When the opportunity again presented itself for me to shoot at the Railyards, I didn’t waste any time accepting, even though my studio partner and I would be hosting a workshop focused on the building itself. Albuquerque Railyards
Once we arrived at the site we had a meeting and told everyone to split up and get back together an hour later. Being one of the workshop leaders I began to walk around the main buildings supervising as well as seeing what I could find of interest to shoot.

Albuquerque Railyards-AbstractMy interest was peaked when I first saw the red door (left). I was watching a couple of students photographing on the other side of the door and as I was going over to meet with them I looked again at the door. But this time the peeling paint caught my attention. From that moment on I became more of a student than a teacher. I looked for the abstract in everything I saw. No detail was too small, no peel of the paint too insignificant. I was hooked.

I began to look at the details instead of the whole picture. The main building, the machine shop, is more than 165,000 square feet of empty space, with a multitude of nooks and crannies just waiting for me to discover them. And that is just one building on this 27-acre site! After more than four hours of shooting I came away with almost 200 photographs, mostly abstracts, some of which are pictured (below) in this post.

Albuquerque Railyards-Triptych

As a result of that shoot I now look at things much differently, whether it be the expanse of a mountainside or the landscape of a nude.

You can see more of Tim’s Railyards abstract work, here.

The Art of Abstraction

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.

annhartmarquis-Hatitian,Sacha Thebaud,1941

Haitian, Sacha Thebaud, 1941.


Dream of Home, oil on canvas, 36″x36″, ©2011, Gail Suttelle

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.


Albuquerque Railyards #9842, ©2011, Tim Anderson photographer

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).


Conversation IV, Wassily Kandinsky, 1911.


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.


Daydreaming, oil on canvas, 8×10, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis

How about you?

A Dress for Special Occasions

I find all genres of painting interesting. I am usually attracted to paintings of the natural world that were created by impressionists, expressionists or abstract artists. Sometimes I am drawn to figurative paintings but they don’t particularly move me.


I like some types of surrealism. Some say that Surrealism gets its inspiration from dreams and fantasies that are free from censorship by reason or moral values. I once visited the work of one of the most famous surrealists, Salvador Dalí at his museum in Figueres, Spain. I found myself most attractived to  his early, somewhat realistic work and all of the paintings he did of his wife. I found his more surrealistic work interesting and intellectual but not compelling.

Dorothea Tanning 

Dorothea Tannning

Dorothea Tannning

One of my favorite paintings was done by the painter, Dorothea Tanning in 1942 and is titled, Birthday. She did not like to be defined as a surrealist, but that is how she is usually categorized. I find the painting very compelling, moving and touching. I find her dress to be A Dress for Special Occasions

It is a self-portrait that she did on her 30th birthday. I especially like that she painted it for this particular birthday. When I was younger, I thought that by 30 I would have my life figured out and that I would be content. It took me a few more years after turning 30 to get my act together. In this painting, her face seems to be questioning what and how her life will unfold. She lived until she was 101 years old.

When I look at this painting, I am intrigued by the many layers of imagination involved, both hers and mine. To me it is a perfect painting. I love the composition, colors and the emotion. I am of course drawn to the organic quality of her dress. It is plant-like. I don’t understand all of the painting, especially the black animal-like figure at the bottom right. Still, it inspires me. What is your reaction?

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning, Birthday