Abstract Art?

I'm often asked if I teach abstract art.

My answer is: "I only teach abstract art!".

All art is abstract. Even 'realistic' painting is an abstraction of reality. 'Abstract Art' is not a great term actually. A better one is "non-representational art".

This is usually the kind of thing people mean when they talk about 'abstract art':

Inglis or Pollock?
A piece of "non-representational art".
Inglis or Jackson Pollock?

A piece like this doesn't set out to tell an easily recognisable story. A piece like this > > > may < < < contain pleasing rhythms, textures, tones and hues. Or it may not. It's a pretty subjective game, discussing the merits of a piece like this.

Learning to see abstract patterns.
Learning to see abstract patterns.
In this case the painting is Monet: Japanese bridge no.2, 1899, at the texture mapping stage.

The more 'traditional' art of the impressionists contains all kinds of rhythms, textures, tones and hues, and it's all arranged to tell a story.

adolphe-garden-1866-pete
My interpretation of a piece of 'representational', or 'programmatic' art by Monet.

There is an obvious story here.

  1. A guy reads a newspaper.
  2. In a garden.

Or, how about...

  1. The sun is shining on a beautiful garden
  2. A guy admires it from the sanctuary of the shade.

When acquiring skills we are much better off starting off with traditional, representational, programmatic art, and famous art!

This gives us:

  1. A clear standard to aspire to.
  2. A clear context.
  3. A clear measure of our success

This is the way musicians have developed skill sets for centuries. They start off learning to tell simple and recognisable stories, like folk tunes. Then they move on to more structured pieces.

In art we are very very lucky in that we can dive straight into more sophisticated repertoire pieces... that is, if we have a good lesson plan and a fabulous teacher to guide us!