Recently we attended an artist Q&A session with several abstract painters. I am not, nor will I ever be, an abstract painter but I found the session to be a wonderful insight into what makes these folks tick. There was a lot of discussion regarding line, shape and use of color. Inspirations and methods also came into the conversations. I was enjoying the insightful commentary until one of the artists, while discussing the difference between representational art (a.k.a. realism) and abstract noted that “In realism people paint red barns….you could see a thousand red barns and once you’ve seen one red barn painting….you’ve seen them all.”
Wait….what? I’ve painted barns. Red, white and worn out weathered wood barns. None of them look alike and I have had different feedback from many different people regarding each one. I love barns…dammit. I suppose what bothered me the most was that in this open forum I had to listen to another artist bash my style. A little voice in my head told me to calm down, remain quiet and listen.
What I walked away with was a renewed notion that creativity comes in many different shapes and sizes. Much like people and politics, we all have different views and each one needs to be respected. I start a painting with a definate plan and follow through all of the steps it takes to completion. In the end I may have a red barn but most of the brush strokes that got me to that point were abstract shapes….placed with great care. The abstract artist places shapes and color freely but in the end titles the piece which lets the viewer know what they were thinking, thereby giving it validity and guiding the viewer into their completed work.
Abstract and representational artists have more in common than not. Opposed political name calling seems to be the fashion of the day but when it comes to art it is possible to find a common ground. Let’s keep it clean folks and appreciate that fact that we are all striving to understand each other. P.S.: My current painting features an old weathered barn wall….just sayin’.