HISTORICAL ABSTRACT PAINTING
WILLEM DE KOONING ' Rosy-Fingered Dawn at Louse Point', 1963
oil on canvas 203.5 x 177.5 cm
“What you do when you paint, you take a brush full of paint, get paint on the picture, and you have fate.”1 So declared Willem de Kooning (American, born The Netherlands, 1904–1997), an Abstract Expressionist artist, celebrated for his exuberant paintings and vivid compositions, in which he often merged abstraction and representation. Over the course of a career that lasted nearly seven decades, he experimented continuously, shifting his style to explore new techniques and forms of expression. Such regular reinvention led to a body of paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures characterized by boldness and innovation. As the artist once said: “Art should not have to be a certain way.” https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/willem-de-kooning-woman-i-1950-52-2
CONTEMPORARY ABSTRACT PAINTING
ELIZABETH NEEL Fixtures Morning to Evening, 2014
Oil on canvas 96 × 76 in
"At first, the gestural brushstrokes and conspicuously blank spaces of Elizabeth Neel’s paintings appear to be the result of layered or collaged abstraction. But upon closer look, the artist’s unique form of representation begins to reveal itself. Her dripped and built-up surfaces tackle dark subjects like plane crashes and dog fights, decomposition and decay—often based on source material from the world around us, including images culled from the internet and television. Neel finds inspiration in a wide range of sources, including the work of her grandmother, bohemian portrait painter Alice Neel. Her sumptuous, sometimes violent use of paint has earned comparisons to Willem de Kooning". https://www.artsy.net/artwork/elizabeth-neel-fixtures-morning-to-evening
Although you will only choose 1 medium for this project, you will need to take the sketchbook notes for any media option that you have not recorded the notes for in a previous project. Sketchbook Notes are indicated by red lettering.
Focus on a Shape
Focus on Color
Blur an Image
Shape Overview - Choose a shape that you can repeat through out the piece. This shape can be repeated in a very orderly and planned manner or be placed randomly using a variety of sizes. This idea is similar to a pixelated photograph. You may also use large shapes to create your overall composition. Below is a list of abstract art styles that emphasize shape.
Color Overview - Use a specific color scheme to set the mood of your painting. Create a focal point near but not in the center with your lightest color. Think about adding texture to create interest. You can also have a particular subject in mind to help guide your composition. For example, the image above is called "Breakwater". The artist was inspired by the ocean. You can almost see the waves receding back into the breaking water. Below are some color schemes and the moods they may express.
Warm colors - energetic
Cool colors - peaceful (image above)
Analogous colors - harmony
Complementary colors - Bold, Jarring
Primary Colors - Youthful, Child-like
Blurred Image Overview - Take an existing image and blur it to create an abstract image that hints at its origins. You can accomplish by squinting or you can upload the image to an online photo editor. Consider the overall colors, shapes and layout in the original photo. Not all pictures will look good abstracted. The example above uses the "Rule of Odds" by having 3 figures. The color scheme is Complementary (reds and greens)
Students often look at abstract art and think that the artist chose to paint abstractly because they were incapable of doing realistic work. Below are two artworks and both created by Willem De Kooning which show De Kooning, like many successful abstract painters, was very capable of doing realistic work.
How to Tell Good Abstract Art From Bad
"When looking at a famous abstract painting do you ever think “I could do that”? If you’re wondering how something so simple can be considered a masterpiece, you’re not alone. Is it really as easy as we think or is there true artistic talent behind these works of art? Believe it or not, there’s science proving that there is in fact a difference between a painting done by a professional and random splatters on a canvas. Before trying to re-create a masterpiece hoping to make millions, pay attention to this blog and see what the experts have to say as well as what to look for in a professionally done piece".
What to look for in “good” abstract art
Write the 6 things to look for in good abstract art in your sketchbook
1. Consistency - The flow must be consistent from one side of the painting to the other with planned and precise strokes.
2. Color - Colors that don’t mesh well together are a dead giveaway that the artist isn’t a professional unless of course it’s done deliberately in which case it has to be obvious.
3. Texture - Most of the time, good abstract art is compiled of layers. There’s typically and underpainting and these layers often create texture.
4. Meaning - All great art has some sort of meaning behind it. Some type of emotion, whether positive or negative gets thrown onto the canvas. There’s thought and planning put into it. You’ll know when an abstract piece is done at random. It lacks personality.
5. Complexity - As an artist completes more and more pieces, they grow and learn new techniques, which is evident in their work. In contrast to what you may think about abstract art, the techniques used in this style (by a professional) cannot be easily replicated.
6. Comfort - Uncomfortable paint strokes will tell you right away that the artist is an amateur. Experienced artists are confident and produce every mark with intention. Paint splatters may look random but they’re put there for a reason.
There are so many different feelings toward abstract art. There are many people that simply don’t understand it, others that think they can replicate it, and of course the abstract artists themselves who put much more time and thought into it than many non-artists realize.
Williem De Kooning