Experimenting With Paint And Thoughts About Abstract Art

more painting experiments. i'm having lots of fun making these. plus, i always wanted to be an abstract artist.
(one of my abstract experiments)

About four weeks ago I started experimenting with new ways to make fun backgrounds to paint on. Someday I’ll be a straight up abstract painter, but right now I can’t seem to control myself and I just have to paint characters over the top of my abstract backgrounds. With these new experiments though I feel like I’m getting very close to a place where painting over them might ruin them. That’s one of the things with painting. You keep adding details until you reach a point where you say to yourself, “If I add one more detail I’m going to ruin this thing.”

experimenting with paint
(another one of my experiments)

Because I’m a snobby art critic, I think one needs to reach a certain age before they start selling abstract paintings. Well, maybe not age, but I think an artist needs to go through a certain amount of experimentation and development to arrive at a point where selling abstract work is acceptable. Think of it as one of those “you’ve got to learn the rules before you can break them” sort of things. Or better yet, “You’ve got to crawl before you can walk.” And that’s because literally anybody can make an abstract painting. Here is an analogy that I find fitting to help describe how I feel about this. When I used to go to the skate park I’d see these little kids trying to do 360 kickflips, but they couldn’t ollie up a curb if their life depended on it. If you are unfamiliar with what an ollie is, let’s just put it this way. A skateboarder that can’t ollie is the same thing as a barista that can’t work an espresso machine. A carpenter that can’t swing a hammer. A college student that can’t shotgun a beer. A chair without legs. Closer to home, it would be like me wanting to be chef. Why would it be like that? Because when Coral was on bedrest and I had to make dinner I once cooked cucumbers for the family and on another occasion I proudly served zucchini cold. And I thought I was navigating my way around the kitchen like Sacagawea crossing the Rocky Mountains.

jackson pollock
Jackson Pollock – “Reflections Of The Big Dipper” – 1947

Who hasn’t seen a Jackson Pollock painting and thought one of these two things. “I can do that.” Or, “my kid could have painted that.” Of course, that’s the knee jerk reaction. When you dig deeper and look at his earlier work you see that the guy can actually draw and paint. And was quite good too. For real.

jackson pollock
Jackson Pollock – “Untitled” – 1939-42

The splatter painting is something he arrived at after years of toiling in the trenches as a struggling artist. Also, he had to come up with something to rid himself from the Picasso influence. The splatter paintings are his invention and it’s only after they’ve been invented that people are able to belittle them by saying things like “my kid can paint that.” Yes, your kid could have painted that, but they didn’t.

Yes, anybody can make an abstract painting. What I’ve come to realize is that not everybody can invent a new style of painting the way Jackson Pollock did. And not everybody can make an abstract painting that has meaning. This is precisely the reason why I think it’s absurd for beginning artists to sell abstract paintings. It’s not a starting point, it’s something an artist needs to arrive at. Of course, I know artists that started painting abstractly because it was easy and they had never painted before. If that’s the case then I say go for it. Get your clothes covered in paint and have fun. Truth be told, I’m the first to encourage anybody to pick up a paint brush, so if people use abstract painting as a means of getting familiar working with paint then I’m all for it. The more artists out there the merrier, I say. Just don’t claim those beginning paintings as masterpieces. They’re not. And don’t put top dollar prices on them. They’re not worth it.

With that said, here are some of the paintings I’ve made while experimenting with new techniques.

playing with paint.

experimenting with paint

experimenting with paint

experimenting painting techniques

I have seven others, but I’ll spare you for now. Also, out of all the ones I made three of them have already been painted over with my usual characters and such. I just couldn’t help myself. These are certainly fun backgrounds to paint on. For me, there is something missing from these before I’ll be ready to leave them as purely abstract. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it quite yet. The obvious thing is that all of these are lacking in size. Abstracts that work need to be a much larger scale than what I’ve done. After all, I didn’t fully appreciate Pollock until I stood in front of one his paintings. And that’s after I came up with all this “early work” mumbo jumbo. As for what I’m working on, they are just experiments, for now.

I’m anxious to see where this journey takes me. Will I ever be comfortable putting a truly abstract painting on a gallery wall? Time will tell.

Thanks for reading!
– Jeff

experiment with paint

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