Why Abstract Art?

Why abstract art?  I have been asked this question numerous times and until recently I didn’t know how to answer.  I have spent time reflecting on what draws me into abstract art and I think I have mostly figured it out…. 

As a young teen the freedom that abstract art offered was magnetic.  Both creating and viewing abstract art offers a world of expanse that, for me, just doesn’t exist in representative art.  The fact that each person can interpret the same piece in a totally different way is intriguing.  The viewer is not given or directly told the subject matter, ie; here is a mountain, here is a person's face.  The viewer's interpretation is unrestrained by traditional form and entirely their own.

This leads me directly to the main reason why I have always loved working within abstract art.  There is no box I had to stay inside of, it felt as though there was an absence of failure, I could colour outside the lines, so to speak, and that was even encouraged.  Working within non-representational abstract art gave me the feeling of being unrestricted, which was a breath of fresh air for me.  Being a very hyper ADHD child, I felt a constant obligation to control, subdue and bridle my energy and my true self.  I did this to conform to the expectations of others and avoid annoying or upsetting those around me.  However, within abstract art I could completely express myself, my full energy, and my unique ideas. Within the environment of abstract art my divergent thinking and energy led to success rather than disappointment from others.  It was exceptionally affirming to have a true part of me accepted and praised by people I respected and wanted to connect with.

Recently I have come to see that, for me, abstract work in my style is a form of problem solving.  In many facets of my life I become excited and engaged by the challenge of resolving problems, finding work arounds or new processes to achieve a goal in the most efficient way.  Although my art process isn’t efficient (my work takes a long time to complete) to me it is an aesthetic challenge.  Within my process I create a foundational composition through multiple layers of paint.  Once I am happy with the balance, depth, and form of the base foundation I will begin to lay in the pattern.  This is where the problem solving comes in.  My work is firmly based in intuition; therefore, these pieces are not planned out ahead of time.  My challenge is to take a multi-colour, often very busy base and calm the chaos by adding in the detail and pattern.  Additionally, while doing this I need to maintain balance within the composition and colour placement, create a new layer that moves the eye around the canvas, and tells a story.  For me this process is invigorating and presents an opportunity for unique problem-solving, divergent thinking, and workarounds.  The fact that there is no map or blueprint to follow can make this endeavor quite intimidating, however, this in and of itself, makes figuring out the puzzle that much more stimulating and satisfying.

This may not be specific to abstract art, and I am absolutely certain it is not specific to me, but when I am being creative my mind empties and I can be 100% present.  It's the only time my busy overactive and overstimulated brain has silence and peace.  I feel the most grounded, sure of who I am and what my purpose is when I am in my studio creating. 

I believe that if I had to define why I love abstract art in a single word, it would be liberation.  Abstract art affords me the freedom to unmask and step outside of societal imposed boundaries and fully express myself through my creativity.  The freedom abstract art grants me fills my soul, grounds me, and allows me to communicate authentically with the world, how could I not be drawn to it over and over again!  

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