View Full Version : Painting Abstractions Well... show your favorites, please!

Deborah Secor
05-01-2009, 12:58 PM
Some of my students and I spent a good deal of time recently discussing what makes a good abstract painting. We had the current issue of The Pastel Journal in front of us and looked particularly at the work of Rick Stevens, which we all agreed was very strong work.

We decided that every painting needs certain elements to work:

a good underlying value structure (independent of the color),
strong composition or design with an area of greater interest to draw the eye,
compelling color to energize the piece (no matter what the mood),
good use of pictorial elements like line, edge, and focus.

But some of the most 'famous' abstraction refuses to do that, and instead seems to head into the realm of breaking all the rules (purposely trying to flatten the picture plane, or not allowing any one element to dominate, etc.)

Here's one of Rick Stevens paintings from the PJ:


I like his control of value, area of interest, color, textures, edge, line. The composition is interesting (although there were others in the article that I liked even more!)

My question for you all is, what abstract art do you think is most visually interesting and would you show a sample here? I'd like to know why you think it's good/successful/visually interesting to you, too. Does it keep or break the rules mentioned above? (*Note: I'm aware that none of these are hard and fast, never-to-be-broken rules, but they are elements that work as a rule.)

Looking forward to seeing what you like....:wave:

Deborah Secor
05-01-2009, 01:50 PM
Oh, there's one other thing I want to add here. Each medium has strengths, things it does naturally and easily, and we can either use that proclivity or fight it...in any kind of painting, of course. BUT the question is, do you find that there is any inherent quality to pastel that enhances abstraction, or vice versa, any quality that disqualifies it as a medium useful for abstraction? I'm thinking of habits like the ability to blend/over-blend/make mud, or the way pastel smears easily, or it's incredibly BRILLIANT color.

A couple more examples of abstraction:

Georgia O'Keeffe

Helen Frankenthaler


05-01-2009, 08:06 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-May-2009/46997-AS-I-2008b_300.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-May-2009/46997-AS-ThePlumbing06b_300.JPG
Here's two images by one of my favorites, Amy Sillman. The space she makes is always interesting. The play between line and shape, etc. and , of course, her color is really wierd. But I think for me it is the way that she plays with space that can make me marvel.

Deborah Secor
05-01-2009, 08:18 PM
I agree, Karl, it's very interesting work that way. Sort of M.C. Escher-ish in an abstract way, with fun color added. They both appeal to me for different reasons, but the meet my criteria for strong abstraction! Thanks for showing this...


05-12-2009, 12:03 PM
I have been very interested in abstractions lately and have been experimenting with pastel abstracts. These are small 12 x 12" abstractions very loosely based on hubble images and nebula.




05-12-2009, 01:04 PM
Wow Shari those are beautiful! I love the colors. I love abstract paintings. At some point I am going to try doing some. For me I think one has to be in the right mood to do them. I think abstracts really can be moving and reveal a part of the artists soul that no other kind of painting does. I don't have any to shoe here, but really wanted to comment on Shari's paintings.
Deborah I too really love Rick Stevens paintings in the pj. For me color is a big thing for abstracts. I have purchased some from a watercolorist and his are very geometrical. But also lots of color. I think he has since died as he was dying when I bought them:( Now if I can only find them after moving several times!


Tom Perry
05-12-2009, 10:05 PM
Title: Out There
First artwork in over 35 years. Completed last August.

Grumbacher pastel on 8.5x11" black card stock

I remembered dreaming about this while coming out of anesthesia after over 9 hours of surgery.


Comment and questions welcome.