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July 20, 2021
Abstract is more than just an art movement. It’s a process. As such, it is nothing new: you do it every day, without thinking. I do it every day with a palette knife and even the garden hose if the canvas size requires. And I do it with lots of pondering.
Abstracting is a very basic process of human thinking: simplifying complex matters to their essence. That simplified lunch-pack of information then jogs the viewer’s memory and helps them reconstruct a full image. It’s how memory works. Artists can guide that process by focusing on abstracting and recording a certain aspect of reality. That makes you see or remember one thing about a subject.
I love emotions, the feel of a place, the impression it leaves with me. The atmosphere. Colours are my preferred tool to recall that feeling: recognisable shapes and details are almost in the way of communicating atmosphere.
Atmosphere is not recorded in tedious details. It hits you at first glance, and the punch comes from the colours. Some of the greatest of classic painters were keenly aware of this punch, and knew how to deliver it: JMW Turner’s seas and skies are testimonies to his greatness as an artist. His sail boats are not even noticeable at first glance; the stormy sky is the true protagonist, arresting the viewer.
In my own practice I am moving towards more abstract paintings but rarely let go completely of the figurative element. Landscapes often start me on the journey, and reducing them to their main colour and texture components is a task that is never fully accomplished. Abstract landscapes feel more abundant, the less specific their detail.
One large piece I painted while contemplating a summer pond is:
Lily Pond Abstract in Green and Gold by Zsuzsanna PatakiAcrylic on Canvas with 24 ct gold leaves80x200x4cm£1,700
As you see I could not refrain from hinting at the original inspiration. It has been painted over the course of two months, starting en plein air, then building up colours and losing details layer by layer. I like to ponder it before going to sleep, the lights reflecting in the 24ct gold leaves…in full daylight the colours sing, the gold echoes them. In the evening the gold takes centre stage, lets my eyes roam on the surface of what looks like water and the memory of the well-known place helps me to relax. Because I took away any explicit references to waterlilies, you would have the freedom to make your own reflections, overlay your own memories.
It is a little bit like music without the lyrics: it works on your emotions, lifts your mood, helps your own thought processes flow. It does not tell you what to think or feel, the way a song would. So if figurative painting is like a song: with words and music and all, then abstract is closer to instrumentals.
To this day, Turneresque moody colours are a big favourite with interior designers in the UK, who use them to enhance the mood of a place, without any additional storytelling.
Here are our favourite atmospheric abstracts this month, from our artists at Skylark Galleries: click on the titles to see them on a wall, buy online, or get in touch if you like something and wish to discuss a commissioned piece!
Stone Blue Storm by Sarah KnightSemi abstract oil seascape on canvasAvailable in a white solid wood floating frame – with no glass covering 32x32x4.5cm£390
Little House 2 by Sarita KeelerAcrylic50x50x1.5cm £185
Coastal by Carol EdgarAcrylic on light board presented in a soft off-white archival mount20.5x 20.5cm£195
July 29, 2021
I love how you describe the process of abstract painting and exploring colours and the emotions they invoke
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