Abstract Illustration

Alan Male explains abstraction to be “borne out of a need to counteract the sabotaging of pictorial, figurative imagery by photography, painters engaged in a practice that bore no relation to nature or reality. They basically worked with colours and shapes of their own invention.” (Male.A 2007) Before starting my own illustration for this exercise I reacquainted myself with some of the abstract artists I particularly like the work of. I love how free Jackson Pollock’s work is. The gestural action in moving the paint around the canvas really conveys emotion.

Joan Miro was part of the automatism movement which “was inspired by Freud’s idea of free association ( the desire to reveal the unconscious mind)”. (Tate) . This is my personal understanding of abstract art, it is a way to go beyond the ‘thinking’ mind to the subconscious. To allow feelings to express themselves without being censored or hindered.

Kandinsky is another favourite of mine. The Tate describe him as seeing his “abstract paintings as an alternative pathway to spiritual reality”. (Tate) This really resonates with me because I think art, particularly abstract art is wonderful for rooting the artist in the present moment, making them a channel for consciousness and a higher power.

I then searched for contemporary abstract artists. My favourites are shown below. Edvard Scott uses graphic textures, patterns and objects to create his artwork that has a real contemporary feel to it. I am really drawn to the colour field painter Marta Marcé because she balances her use of colour and shape so well. Her work looks contemporary but it is probable she was influenced by the 20th Century colour field artists.

This exercise required me to create marks that convey my interpretation of the essence of a piece of instrumental music. I started with Vivaldi Spring as this is a piece I enjoy listening to while creating art. For some reason though, it didn’t inspire me. The marks I made from it weren’t interesting and didn’t seem to have any connection. (left) . So I decided to listen to some instrumental dance instead which definitely worked better. Firstly I listened to ‘Motherboard’ by Daft Punk. This definitely yielded better results but I still didn’t completely feel the connection. (second from left) Finally I chose ‘Georgio by Moroder’ also by Daft Punk which is one of my favourite songs. This was so much better. My connection with and emotion for the piece allowed me to be a channel for creativity. I found it much easier to be free with my mark making. (Right two images)

I used wax crayon to make my marks because they work well in quick expressive movements. I thought about using acrylic or gouache but think loading the brush etc would have broken the momentum up to much and taken me out of the moment. I named the two creations furthest to the right. The first is ‘Anticipation’ and the second is ‘Enlightenment’ which I chose to base my artwork on. I named it this because enlightenment is all about being free from mind which is exactly what I was while listening to the music. The shapes and colours I used are also linked with spirituality. The square area I selected to create an artwork from is shown below.

I chose the marks that most convey enlightenment to use in my artwork. The circular shapes forming an eye because people with high levels of spiritual perspicacity are said to have a third eye. The teardrop is a symbol of acceptance and waves are also an important spiritual symbol. I chose to use the spiral marks but adapted them to represent the journey to enlightenment; one that is not easy to take because the way gets increasingly narrower. Once I had chosen the basic elements I wanted to include, I tried out a few variations and compositions. I wanted to ensure there was a feeling of space in my abstract piece because spirituality and enlightenment is all about space.

My next step was to make a rough colour visual. I used the colours from my original mark making. I don’t feel that the red worked. It is not a spiritual colour and seemed to be working against the essence of the piece rather than with it.

My tutor has suggested that I become more familiar with digital programs and my use of bold shapes made this seem like the perfect opportunity to have a go at colouring in a scanned outline. I found the gradient tool particularly useful for creating the dreamy effect I wanted. Adjusting the opacity to make layers translucent also worked well in helping to convey the message. The colours work much better in this than those I used in the original visual. They are all spiritual colours.

In terms of use of digital programs, I have so much to learn but I feel like I am learning a bit more and getting a bit better every time I use them. I find colouring with a mouse or Wacom tablet difficult and think I would be a lot better drawing straight onto screen. I don’t currently have the option for this though.