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  • Writer's pictureDionne White

Finding the abstract in creation

As a realistic representational painter, it has been a challenge for me to understand abstract art over the years. I am coming to understand it more and more and what it says about the artist. Or should I say, what the artist is trying to say or express through their art. I believe this not only has come from viewing and studying a many pieces of art but also by getting to know the person.

Whether that be personally or simply by reading about the artist.

(Image above : Layers of waves from the tide at sunrise creating a geometric abstrace scene)

Our lives as can tell us so much about what we are passionate about, plagued by and then produce. As I have put my hand to attempting to create abstract art a bit, as well as continue to educate myself on this form of art, I am beginning to understand it more and more. The simple act of being mindful in my everyday life has helped me to be more aware of how abstract of a world we live in. Mindfulness has aided in helping me slow down, take notice, and even stop for a moment to experience and understand the beautiful creations around us.

(Image Above : A piece of Atlantic coral that has peaks, valleys and layers creating an abstract subject in a fan shape)

I started on this creative journey seriously when I was the age of sixteen. My natural gift and skill for art has evolved, just as I have over thirty years. I have challenged myself many times to paint looser with a more painterly type technique. This type of technique was started by the early artists of the Impressionism era, Artists like Monet, Manet and Renoir. Their work was semi realistic using a technique of short brush strokes that captured the impression and essence of the subject or scene. They were Masters at capturing light but more than that, to me they were masters at capturing moments in life, making time stand still.

( Image above : An abstract striated pattern created by the washing away of shells and ocean debris from the receding tide.)

Between mindfulness and the act of practicing freedom in my painting, I was letting go of the idea that art had to look like something or have fine detail to be considered “good”. As I continue to challenge and push myself in this way I am becoming more fond of abstract art. “You begin to form a respect the more you get to know something, and I believe this applies to art as well.” Dionne You don’t have to like it, you just have to consider it and respect it. By doing this you are respecting the artist. I admit for me some works are harder than others to practice this on. Which is understandable since we are all wired differently and certain things speak to each of us differently. Although, I believe there is still an “art” to creating abstract art. Whether it be semi abstract or off the charts unrecognizable.

( Image above : Root system of South Carolina marsh grass that washed ashore. The coil and tangles resemble something of what might be mark making on an abstract piece.)

For me a painting has to have a cohesion of subject, color and design. It can be an abstract but does it have elements that work together to create a piece of art that “works”? There has to be a sense of order even within what can seem to be the “disorder” of the abstract. Do the colors compliment each other? Is there harmony in the painting? Is there a natural flow for the eye to travel around the piece? Is it accomplishing what the artist wants for the viewer? These are questions that go through my mind when I view and experience visual art. Again, what works for me might not work for you. But these are simple design and composition guidelines. I have observed and found that for expressionist painters, these guidelines can be harder to adhere to.

(Image above : Sun-dried, cracked sand creates an incredible abstract of texture and depth)

In my pursuit to understand and create abstract art in some way I looked to the source of my inspiration. All of creation. As I recently retreated on the coast of South Carolina for a week I slowed way down and became mindful of the composition of the world around me. I viewed and admired the water, the sun, the sky, people, fishing poles, shells, tracks in the sand, shadows, footprints, birds, etc etc. So much to see in a vast space.

All abstract making up a beautiful experience in my life, bringing me relaxation and peace. I experienced the abstract of creation. Of course all those things had intricate minute details but from where I was sitting I was taking in the whole masterpiece as one big abstract painting. Textures, colors, all worked together beautifully.

These elements fuel my artistic passion and cultivates my creative eye.

(Image above : A perfectly placed and crafted marsh grass, lying among patterned sand and pops of black and white shells. A perfectly natural abstract scene.)

There is a drive within me to continue to understand art and artists, especially abstract art. As well as to understand what makes up this world and the beauty of it we get to live with. It is my hope that the way I see and experience this life will influence my art in beautiful ways for many years to come, whether that be realistic, impressionistic or abstract.

I am going to be challenging myself to embrace and create more abstract pieces. I won't be abandoning my representational work but I have been highly inspired by the South Carolina coast and look forward to creating an abstract coastal series in the months to come. Along with this new inspiration I am challenging myself to create it in a limited color palette. We shall see how that goes.

All in all, I came away with a new excitement and greater understanding (for my mind) of the abstract because I took the time to be mindful of creation around me.

These images take me back to the moment I stopped and took notice. I can still feel the cool sand on my feet and the salt on my fingers. These memories and photos will serve me well in aiding my future creativity.

'I look forward to creating abstract according to nature.'


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