I did some abstract work recently, two of which were gifts for people. The others I made because I wanted to use up the acrylic paint before it dried up and was wasted.
I made this illustration for my brother’s birthday. This piece is more about him and what I remember of him growing up. Growing up as kids, he liked frogs and had a small collection of them as well as a few frog shirts. We would also play with them as kids when we found them in our yard, but those where mostly toads. Every now and then, we would find a tree frog and would capture it and hold it until we finally decided to let it go again, or when our mom told us to. As for the crown, that has to do with him being known as King Aaron. We went to a parochial school, and when he was in the 8th grade, he was the only student. So all the 7th graders and below called him King Aaron, and it kinda stuck ever since. I started with blocking in the shapes with a palette knife and when it got too detailed or tight, I switched over to a paintbrush. I also wanted the textures to show and some pencil to give the piece movement, expression, and energy. I looked to Picasso, Pollock, Kooning, and a few other Abstract expressionists as well as Matisse and Fauvism. This and all the following works were created on Canson Heritage hot press watercolor paper with Liquitex and Golden paints.
This flower piece I made as a gift as condolences for someone who lost two family members within a week. With this one, I did a mix of palette knife, and paint brush to get the different textures and movement. then I used a dip and fountain pen to get the line work.
The overarching goal of these was simply to have fun, use up the paint that I mixed, make art, and challenge my sense of design. I did most of these paintings with just the palette knives, as I enjoy how expressive and bold you can be with one as you lay on the paint and sculpt with it. It brings me back to several of my college painting classes where for a whole semester it seemed we were just painting with palette knives while working on still lives and models, letting paint give expression and motion even when the subject was still.
I’m not sure what exactly inspired these designs; I’ll let your schema create an answer. I more or less just put paint on the paper and started to build shapes, color relationships, texture and movement. I worked the paintings until they were done, which can always be a hard ambiguous line to come to. Unlike the frog and the lily, these last four works were not planned. I discovered the piece as I went for it. I would make a mark and consider my options before making the next mark, making sure that what I did added to the whole rather than take away. The only thing that I haven’t liked about this is how flat the pieces look on the screen. You don’t get the sense of their depth from the paint textures that are rising from the papers surface like a frozen wave. You can sort of see it, but you can’t experience it though a reproduction. Just like how if you were to see a block print, or intaglio in person, you could see the impressions or ink mounds on the paper. The physicality of art is often something that you can only experience in person, which is unfortunate. A good portion of art is often seen in person, when you’re face to face with the original and can see the brush strokes and energy that the artist put into the work: the thought and imprinting of motion stuck in time, physically recorded history of a mental process. Even when looking at a Rembrandt, you can engage with how he painted, laid down stroke by stroke onto the canvas. If you get the chance to go to a museum or gallery, go and engage yourself.
For those who have never engaged or given much thought to Expressionism, engage with your emotions. How does that make you feel? What is your experience? What is your reaction? Expressionism engages your mind on a different level of thought. More psychological. Why are you feeling what your feeling? What brought that up? Where did that come from?
Thanks for reading!
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