Exploring abstract art

Abstract painting

Eek! I haven’t really written in quite sometime now. I’ve been too busy painting! It’s funny how any sort of creative outlet seems to work for me and settle my mind. Whether blogging, writing free verse poetry when I’m too lazy to blog, painting, or even just posting on Instagram. I blogged on and off for years, gosh over a decade, then played with some free verse last summer, and once the painting started, I no longer needed words. I still think of things to write, but I also like sleep. I can’t paint and write and work and have a family, so some things have to give! I dream of a day where I could make a living doing all the creative and expressive things and actually have forty hours per week to do them. But for now, the side hustle will have to do and the painting is where it’s at!

I could write volumes about what I’ve learned and experienced these past several months in my recent painting endeavors, as it’s been a fairly profound experience, but I ain’t got the time for that! I’m trying to revamp this website a bit to better accommodate the artwork, so I’m making some updates and a few posts to start showcasing my original art more, and put my best foot forward. So, this post is the first in hopefully an ongoing series where I share my work and write about the process, feelings, or maybe just whatever was going on in life at the time. I don’t want to give up on my blog as a place to store and share memories, so hopefully I can weave it all together with my artwork.

While commissioned pet portrait paintings kept me quite busy the last few months, I want to continue developing my skills and trying new things by way of abstract art. The idea of it used to seem like a cop out to me, or something that unskilled people did to call themselves artists. It seemed generic, like how many infinite versions of some color splashes could you make to fill the rooms in a single hotel? I never gave it much thought outside of that, and yeah, to be honest felt a little smug that I was a “real” artist and could draw or paint anything I see with damn near perfection.

But after staring down a few dozen blank canvases these past few months with clear sight to the finish line, I began envying the ability to just make something out of nothing. To just feel and paint, with no objective or idea when it was going to be finished. Maybe it’s the work I’ve been doing in therapy that has inspired this urge to go to the abstract. For most of my life I have feared my emotions, distrusted them or looked at them as a project. Positive emotions? Do more of whatever caused that. Negative emotions? Fix whatever caused that. But definitely don’t spend time feeling them because emotions lie and they aren’t reality. Smart, balanced people don’t have emotions. We think, we use wisdom, we use logic, and that is the best way to be. Oh, my, so much I’ve been unlearning! In therapy we go into the emotions, spend time with them, breathe through them, talk about them, process them. Learn how to be with them, and mostly, hold space for them in a non-judgmental way. I’ve learned to respect emotions as signals, still learning to allow them to process fully, and then learn from them. So now I see a blank canvas and wonder where I could go with it, where my thoughts and feelings could lead. It’s inviting, scary, and let’s face it, difficult. After a couple attempts, I now have newfound admiration for abstract artists and their ability to just create whatever is within them.

So far, I’ve completed three abstract artworks, with another in progress at the time of this post. The first, pictured here, began as just an experiment in texture and color and was not intended to be emotional or relational to anything in my life. But as is the nature of art, it’s difficult to not make it personal, and it wasn’t long before the painting became about my daughters. I had a strange urge to add hearts to it, and it soon became a tribute to my girls and their congenital heart defects. The vivid colors and patterns represent their uniqueness and vitality. Something about the strokes and colors reminds me of the cardiac rhythms, but multiplied and amplified in real life, rather than on a 2D monitor. Was that my intention going into it? Absolutely not, but somehow, it all came together and became a story about my special heart warriors.

While this painting ended up quite symbolic, my next attempts “Noise” and “Organization” have been less so, which I’ll write more about later. One thing I’m challenging myself to explore is that maybe the painting doesn’t have to mean anything. It could just be movement, colors, and patterns, that can simply be enjoyed by just being. Which is probably a larger life lesson in and of itself……..

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