Teaching an appreciation and understanding of abstract art is not an easy task. I have held a number of workshops over the past few years with very pleasing results. These workshops were ‘process driven’, but in most cases they resulted in the participants completing paintings that not only addressed the required criteria, but were valued by their owners as products of achievement.

When trying to understand and interpret AA, one needs to have an open mind. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, will always ‘see’ shapes and objects that they can identify with, when looking at anything abstract.  It’s the only way that most people can feel comfortable with what they are looking at.

AA can be either planned or spontaneous. The latter has a high failure rate. I always plan my workshops around the ‘known’, by using natural objects as my subjects.

I find this method popular with my classes, as real objects are easy to identify with. It’s what you do with these objects that counts.

Natural objects are often full of shapes, that when drawn and repositioned, offer new ways of seeing. Suddenly colour, shape and texture become important.

Making visual sense of these elements is difficult and requires practice. Understanding what one is doing immediately results in appreciation for non-representational art, but it’s hard to shake off ‘old habits’, and it takes time to appreciate abstraction as purely non-representational art.

I must admit, I still ‘see’ objects in abstract work from time to time. It’s more of a case of how you ‘look’ at such work. I’m very interested in mark making, texture and the use of colour, so I will usually look at abstract art with these elements in mind.

Some abstract work gives off an emotional response, creates a mood, even a sense of curiosity, depending on the aims and skill of the artist.

Once you understand abstraction, a whole new ‘art language’ is revealed!

What do you make of the abstracts posted today? Would you believe they are taken from old windows, complete with bird droppings? Or, are they something else?


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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  1. Lorraine McNeair says:

    Richard, there seems to be a bit of the old bird poo there, but probably not – hmmmm – puzzling. I have thoroughly enjoyed the paintings from the workshop and only wish I could have been there. Better check your website – seems to be a bit skewwhiff where you leave your comments.

  2. Gillian says:

    It’s the colour and texture in these that really speak to me. Some of them certainly show their ‘origin’ but had I not been told I would never have guessed! You have such a great eye, Richard.

    By the way – no problem with the comment box here. x

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