May 16, 2009

How to Create and Appreciate Abstract Art! (Includes 8 Step Guide to Actually Create Abstract Art)

Before creating abstract art it is important to understand its meaning and use. We can broadly say that all art is either leaning towards being realistic or towards being the changed interpretation of reality as rendered by an artist.

By changed interpretation of reality, it can range from just a small change where the colour of the sky is changed from the actual light blue to say a green or can be a completely different interpretation of reality such as a cubist painting by Picasso, where he completely rearranges and drastically changes a woman's face. Both can be called abstract, though the first one is clearly very much realism and very little abstractionism, whereas the second one is very little realism and very much abstractionism.

Therefore we can safely say that art that is abstract, can be said to be the changed interpretation of reality as rendered by an artist (or any individual who creates a piece of art). This should give you a general idea of what this kind of art is, but more importantly it is the why of it that is the key to it all.

Why distort reality, why not reproduce it exactly as it is and make it look as close to the real thing as possible. Well for starters, we have cameras to do exactly that, and as for the critical reason for making art that is abstract, it is because when a great work of art is made in the abstract style, it becomes much much more than the reality it represents.

When we see a sky that has been painted purple and trees that have been painted yellow, our minds suddenly 'pop'. It's a world that we had never seen in reality, it's a world that opens up our minds to the infinite possibilities. Yes, to tell you the truth, I do strongly feel that the ultimate aim of abstract art is to bring out the Almighty in every thing. When an artist makes a shape that he feels is the right abstraction of an object as simple as a flower, then that piece of art becomes much greater than a flower. It becomes the idea of the flower rendered in the completely different perspective of that particular artist. As a viewer when we see that piece of art. It might not move us at all or it might move us to such a degree that we become entranced by the genius of it.

Taking up the discussion from the point where we state that such art opens up new worlds, we can even say that even science fiction is a form of abstract art. Art that is abstract is a very powerful thing when it strikes a chord with you.
Realism on the other hand can strike a chord with you but it will be on the level of realism, the conscious cogitative mind. Art that is abstract 'pings' your subconscious and in some cases even the superconscious minds. Not that there aren't exceptions. The Mona Lisa is realism, but there is something in it much beyond what is immediately visible. It is the 'X' factor that makes it a fantastic piece of art. Good abstract art always has this certain 'X' factor.

When you see some art that is abstract, it may not do anything to you, you may just see a shape and colours that are different but nothing more, however that very same piece of art may bring out deep feelings in another person. When a piece of art has the power to bring out deep feelings in a large number of people, it is a great piece of art. This appreciation and understanding of art is possible for everyone, it does not need any special training, it only needs an open mind. It needs imagination, something that everyone has.

Once you have opened your mind to this abstract concept, then creating such art is easy.

Here is an 8 step guide to creating abstract art:

1. Think of what you want to make. Let's take a flower vase.

2. Now, think of why you want to make it. Let's say you decide that you want to bring out the feeling of loneliness that an empty flower vase evokes.

3. This can be done by making a small vase in huge area, giving it an emptiness and therefore loneliness (which is almost a straightforward practical unimaginative way), or it can be done by making it in the abstract style.

4. Let us make an abstract rendition of the empty flower vase. In your mind imagine the flower vase, its shape, does the shape remind you of a woman. What would the pose of a woman who is pining away be.

5. Now without really trying to create a real flower vase, make bold lines on a piece of paper which reminds of a vase and a woman who is pining away.

6. Keep making the bold lines till you feel that your desire to make the lines has been satisfied.

7. What you have with you is your first piece of abstract art. May not be the best or even good, but it is your rendering of a reality called a flower vase into an idea which is not just a copy of the flower vase. It is art and it is abstract. It might not even evoke in you a feeling that it is a flower vase, but that is immaterial. You have opened your mind to the concept of abstraction.

8. Now whether you make more art, or you look at a piece of art that is abstract, you will have a slightly enhanced ability to discover and appreciate the 'X' factor in art.

So, go ahead and get into the wonderful world of abstract art, or at least give your self the capability to appreciate it.

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  1. I LOVE this post! One of the most insightful and 'mind-opening' treatments of approaching art I have seen in a while. I am a songwriter, music-creative type, but I am starting to find I need to draw or paint to get things out in a different medium. I found your thoughts really helpful. Thank you :-)

  2. Sanjeev,

    very good. I will rmeember some things uve written. ive been studying picasso n Giacometti now and this is wat they talk about. although Giacometti said " one might imagine that realism consists in copying a glass just as it is on the table. but in fact... you never copy the glass on the table, youu copy the residue of the vision...". You can think hes crazy but i think he was the most sane artist/philosopher.

    chuck schultz

  3. Hi SongNote thank you for your appreciation!

    Chuck, that was a very insightful reference... hope your art studies and art progress is going great!
    Regards, Sanjeev