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How Do You Do That Thing You Do? (Part 1)

I am going to start a short series of blogs that give you a little idea of how I approach the creation of my art.

I have often asked myself the question how I would teach someone else how to paint abstractly or even to paint like I do. On the second part of the question I would say you have to get inside my head and see what I see, feel what I feel, and become the process of moving some of that out of the cluttered mess that is my head and out onto something material, like canvas so that others can see my insides without having to shrink down tiny enough to enter my head and see it for themselves (and take on the risk that they may never be able to get back out again!). Certainly, I think there must be an easier way...

Traditionally when you wanted to paint flowers, you would go outside to the flower garden and pick some that you like, set them down in way that looks good to you then take your paints and brushes and copy them so that it looks a lot like what you are seeing with the flowers you picked. Some artists can paint flowers so well that you can smell their fragrance and almost feel the warmth of the sunlight as you gaze at the painting. It takes a lot of practice and hard work combined with the knowledge of painting tools, materials and techniques to make marks on a surface that will be believable to a viewer's brain which, hopefully, will immediately recognize the artwork as flowers.

In abstraction you still need all the practice and hard work, material and tool knowledge combined with mark making techniques to create an abstract painting. In my mind, at least, the big difference with abstraction is that you do not need to describe the flower in the same way traditional art does. Yes, you may want another person to be able to recognize you are painting a flower ...but how do you do that without painting the flowers like you see it?

Again, this is just me but I get interested in conveying what the flowers does to me or what happens when I see them, smell them ...see them grow and drink in the sunlight maybe even imagine if I was the flower, what it would be like to need to be cared for, dependent on nature or a caretaker to stay alive and grow ...or what if I am, as the flower, now dying because I am no longer cared for or wanted and the sun no longer visits me? Now you can convey all these in traditional art but you don't want to copy real life you want to convey the emotions and essence of it all.

It all seems so esoteric when you put it in words (but then we are talking about abstractions!) and that is why you must create it as artwork. Edward Hopper, a talented representational illustrator said, "If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." So as an abstract artist I see in a way that appeals to more than only the object recognition centers of the brain, I must try to see beyond all that to something that also speaks to the heart and conveys something that creates a bridge to a new reaction. In this way the work becomes much broader than the mere imitation of shape and dimension. It reaches for a life of it's own.

Next, I will share with you a more of how I work and by what process I leave the shores of the everyday to seek that distant land of imagination in part 2 of this little series...