Understanding Abstract Art – Part III
Artists are always experimenting when creating art. When creating abstract paintings, artists are engaged in the greatest amount of experimenting possible. They are not tethered to anything in the natural world. Their imaginations can run wild. If you were to ask any artist what inspires his or her work, you would get a different answer from every artist and perhaps a different answer from the same artist on different days. I will give my answer to what serves to inspire me in my art.
Often I come to the paper or canvas with an idea of what I would like to express. My ideas come from my experiences and my life. I reflect on things that have happened to me and trust that others may have had similar experiences so that they will relate to what I am expressing. An example of this type of inspiration is my painting “Leaving the Nest”. I was thinking of my children leaving home for the first time. In this abstract painting, I used a bird to represent the child. My bird soars off into space but below him is a nest and a hand to catch him if he falters. Don’t we all want to provide a safety net for our children as they venture into the world? I entered the room where this painting was on exhibit one time and came upon a viewer who was very emotional and asked to see the artist. I told her I was the artist and she asked: “Have you had children who left home?” I knew at that moment that my work had reached another person and that my inspiration was communicated effectively.
Other times I start a painting with no idea of what I am going to express. An example of this is my “Descending Koi”. I started with a free form design but as I worked on it, a koi seemed to appear as the main focus. I am attracted to koi. I thought about what a koi represents to me. These fish seem always to be searching for new places to explore just as I search for new ideas for my art. My koi seemed to be diving…going deeper. Going deeper is also something I try to do with my abstract paintings. The koi became a symbol for me of my quests through my art. In this instance the art itself became my inspiration.
A third way of receiving inspiration is through music. Music is the most abstract of the arts yet most of us have no problem understanding the emotional connection that comes from music. I listen to jazz or classical music while painting and am inspired by the sounds, rhythms and beats that I hear. My “Midnight on the Boulevard” was inspired in this way. The name of the piece seemed consistent with the feelings I have about city life. I tried to express the feeling of being out in an urban atmosphere at night in my abstract painting. I am told by viewers that this is an upbeat, happy painting. That was certainly my intent in creating it.
Whatever inspires abstract paintings must come from the artist’s life and experience. The hope is that the viewer will relate to the feelings expressed and gain enjoyment from the process of connecting to the mood expressed.