My First Lesson in Abstract Art
Art is Everywhere
I've always been fascinated by art-whether it be sculptural, abstract or a simple painting. It comes down to a simple fact. Art simply fascinates me. I see art everywhere-in every book and cranny-and all around me. The beauty of a single perfect rose. The melodic notes of a Mozart sonata. The majestic trees standing tall in a virgin forest. Look up and look down, to the right and left. If you look closely, art is everywhere.
My earliest drawings were done with my grandmother beside me. She was a painter so we used to sit together on the weekends creating art, me sketching away while my mother painted. I've always wanted to paint using other mediums such as acrylics, but it all seemed so complicated. From the plethora of different mediums to the variety of brushes, there were too many things to ponder.
One fine winter day, my wish came true. I finally got a chance to paint.
*All photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
What is Abstract Art?
I admit, I don't know much about art and can't tell you what's good and what's not. I only know what I like. It's like my experiences at museums. There are some that literally put me to sleep, while others will excite and entertain me for days. One such experience was my first visit to MOMA in New York, where I went in without expectations. I discovered that art was anything and everything you wanted it to be. Pop art excited me. Installation art intrigued me. Abstract paintings made me think. How could pieces in a museum do this to me? I ended up spending the entire day at MOMA and had the most enjoyable time.
I'm lucky to have a few good friends in the art world and one friend in particular, paints abstract art. The first time I laid my eyes on a few of his artwork, it invoked emotions in me, similar to my first MOMA experience. Browsing through his library of abstract paintings, I was hit by a whirlwind of emotions-anger and despair, sadness and loss, hope and passion. I was at a loss for words but I knew one thing. I was being taken on a journey through something beautiful.
*Photo : Lots of acrylic paint, paint tray, cardboard sheet and a random brush.
Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.— Wassily Kandinsky
Tools and Gifts for the Artist
58 artists take you on a journey through over 100 abstract paintings, sharing their ideas and inspirations along the way. A must-have for any artist interested in the abstract painting process.
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My Art Lesson Begins
One of my new year's resolutions for this year is to try something new, which gave me the perfect excuse to try my hand at creating a piece of abstract art. Now I've heard that many people, especially beginners like me, cringe in fear at the thought of creating something they may believe that they've created a work of art, only to be criticized by teachers, friends and other artists. But I wasn't going to let any of that nonsense get in the way. I was going to paint my first abstract painting and I was going to have a blast doing it. In all honesty, I couldn't wait to get started!
So I arrived with a bounce in my step and high expectations to the humble atelier of my artist friend, Vinn Wong, who kindly agreed to give me my first lesson. When I entered his room, I was excited to see that the table was already prepared with two small canvases while a shelf next to the table held enough tubes of acrylic paint to color a rainbow unicorn. As I was literally jumping up and down with excitement, my always calm and composed friend made me a cup of chamomile tea to calm me down.
*Photo : A pair of blank canvases with easels.
So How About You?
Have you ever painted abstract art?
The Actual Experience of Creating Abstract
So the first step was to calm down. Ok-got it. He patiently told me to sit in front of my canvas as he started to explain the process. The instructions were very simple.
1. Use any brushes and colors you want
2.Pour the paint onto the cardboard to mix color or directly onto the canvas
3.Do whatever you want because it's all up to you.
I found myself patiently waiting for him to give me further instructions or perhaps a few warnings on the what to do or not to do-maybe some pointers only a seasoned artist could give me. Instead, I peered over finding Vinn caught up in his own future masterpiece humming to a random song that he probably just made up. That was my cue to get started so that I could finish something resembling art before the nightfall.
Trying to find some inspiration, I gazed out the window, shivering at the sight of the gloomy, winter sky. It was a cold day and, looking up at the grey sky, I thought to myself that it might even snow. It was that exact moment that I found my inspiration.
*Photo : Shinichi focused on creating a masterpiece.
My Art Class Comes to an End
Feeling inspired, I first painted the entire canvas white, the color of snow, winter and purity. After that first white layer, I found myself drawn to monotone hues if grey, off whites and blacks. I mixed and blended colors to try and create as many variations of these colors, stubbornly staying away from adding anything else. The wind was blowing outside and as I painted and layered, I imagined the cold gusts of wind traveling through the grey concrete jungle of the city.
Halfway through, I felt myself momentarily frustrated as my canvas looked flat, boring and utterly dead. My teacher encouraged me to keep going, saying this happens to everyone. So I kept painting, adding a thin wisp here and a thick blog there, trying to get somewhere, although I wasn't exactly sure where I was going.
After a little over an hour, something told me to stop. I looked at my canvas from all angles and I knew that I had finished. With abstract painting, it's hard to tell where the finish line is, but I instinctively knew that it was done. It wasn't great but I knew I did my best. I had come to the end of my journey.
*Photo : My finished abstract painting.
Vinn Wong's Art
Learn more about Vinn Wong and his artwork.
Abstract Art is like Free Form Dance
My first attempt at painting had been one of the most enjoyable things I've tried in years. I was completely engrossed in the activity that I had completely lost track of time. During this short period, I experienced feelings of excitement, hopelessness, frustration and finally a sense of satisfaction and completion. Creating something abstract was an invigorating experience because it literally forced me to create something out of nothing but a blank canvas. It was like dancing without a routine, with no specific choreography. You simply did and the experience was liberating.
My teacher looked over at my painting and proclaimed it satisfactory. His exact words were ,"It's good. Reminds me of my first attempts at painting", which translates to "it's really not that bad" at least to me. After my lesson, I carefully took my painting home. It is now proudly displayed on the shelf in my living room.
And my journey hasn't really ended because you see, I already have another painting session planned with my art teacher.
*Photo : Vinn Wong's Painting
After Reading This...
Would you be interested in painting something abstract?
What do you think of abstract art? Does it fascinate you like it does for me? Or do you prefer other kinds of art? All comments are welcome and appreciated.