Class Notes: Journey into the ABSTRACT

My Thursday Painting class recently requested some instruction in ABSTRACT painting. Every couple of years I specifically address the subject but it can bring out strong opinions in my class painters. Some love it- some hate it.
I love abstract work - of all kinds - and it is an area worthy of study; one that we could spend years on -BUT- I might loose a few students. So, we are taking a couple of weeks to touch lightly on the subject.
Week one we looked at ABSTRACT art that is NON-representational. That means it does not refer directly to a "thing" or view. That rules out Picasso;  think Rothko or Kandinsky.
Kandinsky was one of my major influences as a kid, and the first real art I was exposed to that made me sit up and take notice. Kandinsky believed that art should communicate on an intuitive level.  Hmmm. . . There's a rabbit to chase. 
In class we help the "intuitive eye" connect with the work through the use of composition and color.

My general guidelines for nonrepresentational work:
1. Start with a dynamic compositional theme.  We chose the CROSS composition.
2. Look at a color wheel or create your own; see the one we created in the photo.
- Choose a color that you want to dominate the work;
- choose a second color that will contrast or complement the first.
- choose 2 more colors to add excitement but with the intention of using them sparingly.
3. Establish your center of interest and work with color and shape to reinforce your compositional idea.
4. Use colors as shapes. Place then to interact with each other, varying the size and shape of the masses. Think about patterns, repeating patterns, theme and variation.
5. Don't over work the paint or you will lose the visual strength and energy you are trying to create.
Note: if you are working with acrylic, don't be afraid to pour, fling, wipe, drip and dribble with paint to: cover areas, build up or allow some areas to come forward
while other areas recede or become submerged for the sake of compositional strength.
This is not random paint dancing, this is intentional, non-representation work with color and compositional ideas behind it.
Abstract work is not a walk in the park. The best work has depth and a driving concept.
Nice things often happen by "happy accident" -  BUT, great abstract painting is anything but accidental - it is always intentional.

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