Abstract art, why do you escape my grasp?


The struggle with abstract art continues – I simply cannot get the hang of it. I’m very literal, direct, straightforward – I try to keep things simple, and most of all logical. With all these characteristics, how does one loosen up and create something that is pure feeling and pure visual “nonsense?”

I have never understood abstract art and I can’t seem to get any meaning out of the majority of pieces I come across. I don’t want to shut myself out of an entire arena of the art world, but maybe it’s just not my style. . .

If you haven’t already seen it, the piece I’m having the worst time completing is this piece I blogged about in an earlier post called, Abstract crap. I blogged about it in 2010, but probably started on that painting back in 2007/08 and have painted over it…hmmm how many times now?

Let me count; it started out as a landscape painting, but I gave up on that and started dripping bright paint all over it which I morphed into a possible nuclear holocaust piece, but I [again] gave up on that, painted it black, put a kokopelli on it and smeared white gesso all over [which is the stage you see in Abstract Crap], afterwhich I decided to scrap the kokopelli and painted over it [yet again] in dark green which I intended to be the background for a grotesque interpretation of the correlation between modern models and Jews during the Holocaust, and now. . . well, see for yourself. . .

An unfinished abstract painting by Sara Kerr

What. a. mess.

So, that’s four times I painted over an idea I wasn’t making progress on. Based on my previous idea descriptions you can tell all my ideas are actual plans – I don’t know how to convert the specific images I have in my head into a generalization without those specific details.

Like I said, I’m direct: if I want to paint a tree, it’s going to be a tree. Why beat around the bush? The most direct route to the message I’m trying to portray is to “spell” it out with clear imagery. . . Maybe illustration and story telling is where I belong.

Currently I’m using hairspray bottles to spray a light shade of brown over it, leaving bottle caps on areas so some of the color shows through. I’m leaning toward titling the piece, ‘The Turd‘ since it has turned into such a piece of shit and my brain is seemingly constipated when I try to come up with something to do with it [my heart isn’t set on that title – It just seems like a suitable moniker at this frustrating point in time].

I’m thinking the next thing I’ll try – if The Turd fails – is burning this cursed canvas and starting fresh! [because painting over it time after time doesn’t seem to solve my problems. . .]


7 Responses

  1. To me, abstract art is more of an emotional connection. The rawness of your emotions blasted on a canvas. It’s raw texture, intense color mixed on the canvas itself… it’s scratches and tears and gouges. Next time you are overwhelmed with any sort of emotion, displace it on a piece of paper or canvas. Let the emotional energy guide your hand… dont draw or paint a predefined object, but a line or shape that your energy dictates. From that line, compose other forms around it… add color, stay in a single color, whatever helps convey to the viewer the emotion you just illustrated. Maybe you produce a great piece that others get, maybe not. But I promise this exercise is super theraputic!

    1. Thanks for the advice! I guess next time I’m raging I need to take it out on this canvas. Trip to the gun range perhaps? I have cut up canvases before and stitched them back together. It was an interesting piece, an abstract one, but again, I simply don’t like it. I could just be fundamentally intolerant of art that isn’t clear and isn’t an actual scene, object, person, etc…

      I’m definitely going to try this exercise. I would like to make a “happy” piece and not go bat-crap-crazy like I have in the past – I’ve thrown paint filled balloons out windows onto canvases (I had an awesome high school art teacher :D). If I can create an appealing, peaceful painting I think I’ll be satisfied.

  2. Now that i have had a chance to read all you wrote, I can reply with more knowledge of your predicament and can comment. “The turd” isn’t all bad it certainly looks to me to be an abstract. Maybe this is what your missing the whole experience with this canvas has been an abstract journey all in it’s self and what you now have is the final abstract with a story behind it. Its all a learning experience don’t ever give up on it. The biggest and most frustrating challenges we face in life teach us the most about ourselves. Keep doing you. you are so very talented and so very special. You also come from a family of strong women who eat challenges for breakfast, so keep up the abstract and i hope you find what your looking for it’s there.

    1. “…an abstract journey…” I hadn’t thought of it like that 🙂 Maybe it’s “done enough” for now. I sometimes find that not looking at a piece for an extended period of time or just taking a break from it helps me finish it. It’s just hard in this case because I feel like I’ve shoved it aside so many times, there just isn’t a way to finish the stupid thing.

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