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January 4, 2013


Replies: 29

Should I do abstract art

Between-the-Divine Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Its never really been my thing, but I am trying to try new and innovative things. I see people sell tons of abstract work in galleries and store's like Etsy. My questions are...

What is desirable abstract artwork? How do you market it? How can you build interest? How do you even begin to go about saying a piece is "abstract"


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Devious Comments

summitstars Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I wouldn't worry about what other people think. In fact, I never give any thought as to what people want me to draw, I just do what I want. I think all artists should have an I-don't-give-a-f*ck attitude when it comes to that. Create whatever you want to, to me that's the best way to do it. :D
Starlit-Sorceress Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
My jewelry is mostly abstract, so I guess you could call me an abstract artist.

If you do realistic art, then you'll get attention from people who are impressed at how realistic you got it to look. You can't do that with abstract as much. Your attention will come from people who are impressed with how well the colors and shapes work together.

Example 1: [link] It's one of my few realistic pieces. It either looks like Arwen's evenstar pendant or it doesn't. No room for interpretation.

Example 2: [link] It's supposed to look like a branch, but stylized. I took the shape of the branch, but made it more balanced and symmetrical, and added the pearls and detailed wirework to enhance composition and mood."

Example 3: [link] The wirework on this necklace isn't supposed to look like anything. I'm purely creating a mood with composition.

Learn design principles if you want to be good at abstract. What colors go well with each other, and what mood is set with each combination? Which has more visual weight: A small, dark dot or a large, bright dot? How do you create the feeling of motion in a painting when you can't just draw an actual object that is commonly known to move.

The way to market abstract art is to be genuinely inspired to create your piece in the first place, and then communicate that inspiration effectively to your customers.
Vineris Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Depends on what your reasons for trying abstract art are. If you're thinking of learning something, great. It'll teach you a lot and probably be fun to play with. If you're thinking "lol I can make a lot of moneys on etsy with little skill or effort", well, a lot of retired ladies and Chinese factories had that idea long before you did and they've been at it longer.
Between-the-Divine Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Even if they have been doing that for awhile, I still can give it ago ;)
Vineris Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Sure. :) Just don't expect miracles. I hear it's awfully hard to get noticed on Etsy.
ShaunMichaelJones Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013   Traditional Artist
Abstract art is good at teaching you what to leave out of a painting while still having it work as an image. A few years ago i started adding abstract elements to my work. I went from pure representational to pure abstract and back again. I have found a happy medium between the two now, but i still continue to develop the way i work. Give abstract art a go you may be suprised by the results and it may influence your existing style in a positive way.
UltieArts Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I think abstract art is important to try, even if it's not what you settle on doing.

It helps you learn color, composition, and light. Abstract, non-objective art is the basics of art minus objects and recognizable form; therefore, any weaknesses you have (Line, color, value, composition, ect) are a lot more evident and are easier to attempt to address.

I remember hating my abstract painting class in college because I still had a lot of weaknesses, and painting abstractly made those weaknesses harder to mask. My color pallets were terrible, and I had little grasp of value and constrast - but I could mask these with still lives and painting from the model very easily.

I suggest just setting out to experiment with the material. Don't worry about what, worry about having fun, and discovering fun things with your materials. Try to make something that just plain looks cool. Nothing more.
UltieArts Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
PS here's a humorous article explaining abstraction: [link]
CinderBlockStudios Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Do what you want to do. Not what other people want you to do.
decaymyfriend Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Here's my long ago essay I did on Abstract Art. >:P
Have fun reading. 9.9

Abstract Art
Many people view at least one painting in a museum and wonder what in the world was the artist thinking. It shows no image or representation of anything at all really. It's just a canvas of paint that looks like a child could have done. Viewers don't know what it means, why they painted it, why it has such a large price tag, or pretty much anything to do with it. What that viewer is contemplating so much about is most likely a piece of abstract art.
Art has been around basically forever. The origin of art came before any type of intellectual forms such as writing, speech, and tools (Johnson,1). Therefore, art is as old as humanity itself when homo sapiens, or doppelgangers, walked the Earth several thousands of years ago (Johnson, 1). These first humans produced visual records of objects and ideas with some form of clay or stone etchings (Johnson, 1). These etchings represented pictographs and gradually our ancestors associated these images with verbal sounds. Gradually sending forth a new form of language and way of communication, not only to the one group of people but to others and generations born (Johnson, 2). A popular visual record at that time was cave or rock arts that have been found to be engraved or painted on the rock floors, walls, ceilings, and the most inaccessible crevices that thy lived in (Johnson,7).These first artists painted large numbers of animals, geometric figures, and a vast number of hand prints. Surprisingly the quantity of human portraits and records of interaction are very rare (Johnson, 8). One of the earliest art forms besides these rock and cave arts was fashion. Not the kind of clothing fashion of today but relatively body adornment. Clothing, body paint, and jewelry attracted the most attention from other humans and was the most easiest and effective way to do so (Johnson, 8). They used different types of rocks to engrave to produce a variety of color and depth in their engravings, the same basics we use today; though, it's very rare to find fine and clay engravings considering the many years it would have had to survive (Johnson, 9). The first colors that came about in the paintings and body adornment were red and black. The red was made from iron oxide and black was made from manganese dioxide, and sometimes juniper or pine carbons. In some cases, white was formed by kaolin or mica. Any other color hadn't come about at that time; however, there was a case where yellow and brown was found in Magdalenian paintings (Johnson, 7). Calcium deposits found in the cave water was used for paint mixers, and for binders, animal oils and vegetables were often used (Johnson, 7). Shells were used to store these paints. One ancestral artist was even found to have had used a human skull (Johnson, 7). They substituted twigs, feathers, tufts of hair, leaves, and other plant matter for brushes and paint applicators. As creativity began sprouting in the minds of these intellectual beings, paint began to see new forms of being applied. Blow pipes made from bird bones were used to spray paint and stencils were sometimes used, much like today's airbrushes (Johnson, 7). As homo sapiens began to immigrate to further lands, they began to form different religions and beliefs. In ancient Egypt art was placed in tombs for the gods (Johnson, 19). In the western art movement, the art there was served for religious purposes, most of them featured in churches and chapels (Johnson, 18). As time and knowledge grows, art forms will change and disappear; artists will break free from restrictions and begin inventing their own set of rules. Furthermore, carrying society and its movements in new directions (Johnson, 9). In the early 1870s, paintings did not symbolize realistic objects or beings anymore. This kind of new painting style would be called Impressionism, a form of abstract art (“Understanding”). Gradually it will catch and spread through the minds of artists. Art appreciators’ views of painting believed that it was most sincere when it completely left all signs of representational images (Johnson, 721). Until the twentieth century did artists break free from the limited tools and imagination (“Understanding”).
There are several styles within the style of abstract art. There's impressionism, expressionism, and cubism; mainly all called the '-isms' (“Introduction”). Expressionism was so different from what society has ever seen before. Its effect was so powerful that it would sometimes launch violent revolutions and new researches (Deuchler, 145). An artist that was intrigued by the expressionism movement disregarded the natural colors of objects and surrounded the prime colors with thick black lines as if it were stained glass windows (Deuchler, 145). Cubism was founded by Pablo Picasso and Georges Barque (Muhlberger, 24). They used geometric shapes like cones and spheres. The name cubism came about just from that. Most of the paintings looked like a world of cubes but underlying it was an abstracted form (Muhlberger, 24). Picasso quoted "We were trying to move in a direction opposite to Impressionism. That was the reason we abandoned colour, emotion, sensation, and everything that had been introduced by the Impressionists, to search again for architectonic basis in the composition, trying to make an order of it," (Muhlberger, 7). Impressionism paintings did not have the longing for details like some paintings (Scullery, 8). Light, however, was emphasized in impressionistic works. It brought out inner ideas of the mind and sensations for the viewer (Scullery, 8). A group of first impressionists were the Nabis. Their goal was to distort and stylize forms with different colors than what it should have been (Scullery, 10). Whether if be one style of abstract art or the other, each and every one is unique and full of emotion.
Not all artists are the same; each have their own background life story that influences the subject and theme in their art. Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Pablo Picasso are three artists that have refined and invented their own definition of abstract art by expressing their life stories on canvas. Jackson Pollock is the most influential American artist in abstract art, as well as other arts, with his unique and wild style of his work (Johnson, 721). He studied art in Los Angeles and New York where in 1940 he began to produce wildly abstract paintings that the art world has not begun to imagine at that time (Deuchler, 164). Pollock would stretch large canvases along floors or walls and would apply the paint by such foreign matter (“About”). Paint was splashed, dripped, thrown-anyway that it could be applied, it was not a restriction to Pollock (Deuchler, 164). He used turkey basters, enamel, varnish and lacquer, sand, knives, broken glass, and sticks; using such tools gave the paint freedom without restricting itself to the confines of the brush and the brushed (“About”). He was so famous for this, people would call him "Jack the Dripper" (“About”). Jackson Pollock liked to start his paint with pale grey and silver. The color preferences would change to yellow, red, and black, each with touches of silver as well (Johnson, 721). Fans noted that it would be as if Jackson was walking over his paintings like he was truly inside them, creating his own world (Johnson, 721). Jackson Pollock said "When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a short of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is purely harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well" (Deuchler, 158). This kind of emotional painting is called action painting (Johnson, 721). Sadly, Pollock was an alcoholic and died in a fatal car crash (“About“). However, his mark in the art world did not die with him. He is considered a hero to many artists and a very large inspiration to the art community (Johnson, 721). Mark Rothko is identified as one of the preeminent artists of his generation during the 1940s (Weis). He was born in Russia as Marcus Rothkowitz in 1903. He immigrated to Oregon when he was ten. He attended Yale University to become an attorney or an engineer but other things called to him and he gave up his studies and went to New York (Weis). He started teaching children and went his own unconventional ways (Weis). Rothko branched out in the recesses of his creativity and came up with a style of abstract art with deliberate deformations and an application of paint so crude like Pollock without the daggers (Weis). He had eliminated surrealism or mythic imaginary that he once took part in the years before 1947 (Weis). Comprised of rectangular shapes of numerous variations of brilliant hues and tone, his paintings still contain those internal emotions and atmospheres (Weis). Rothko's paintings gradually went nameless and he did not want to further clarify what his paintings represent for the fear that it would only paralyze the viewer's imagination (Weis). The third artist that defined abstract art was Pablo Picasso. He is one of the most recognized figures in twentieth century art for co-founding the Cubist art movement. He and Georges Braque explored their own personal inspirational artist, Paul Cezanne's art style, hoping to reduce his visual world to just minimum forms (Muhlberger, 9). They looked for geometric forms of spheres, cones, cylinders and etc. to show things that the everyday person sees in basic forms and from many angles at the same time. The art community named the style cubism because some of the paintings and artwork looked like everything was cubes, however, did have an underlying structure (Muhlberger, 24). Before cubism, however, Picasso went through 'periods'. The blue period was a hard difficult time for the artist. He couldn't afford materials he needed so he painted life-sized pictures on walls. He often got sick from living and working in heat and air-conditioned deprived rooms with barely any material to cover him up on cold nights (Muhlberger, 9). Picasso's friend Casagemas was in love with a woman who did not have the same mutual feelings. Casagemas went to a cafe where he shot himself. At this time of period, Picasso's frequent subject was clowns that were sad and much alone as if it was a reflection of himself (Muhlberger, 16).The featureless individuals in his paintings seeped full of depression and lonely emotions for a very long time until it would move onto another 'period' (Muhlberger, 13).
From the beginnings of time when homo sapiens drew on rocks to communicate their feelings, emotions, and the world around them, art has always come from the heart. Though, as each generation comes and commercialism rises, abstract art has not entirely come from the heart and mind as it used to. They feel obligated to do what the people want, what will sell, and won’t stray from societies rules (Johnson, 730). In the modern world, everything seems to be turning toward technology and turning away from the traditional mediums. However, in a way, art education is not dying. In Paul Johnson’s book it says “In the United States and Britain more secondary school pupils take art history as an examination subject than ever before; the number of men and women taking degrees in art has multiplied a hundred fold since 1945; and Ph. D. student in arts subjects are also at their highest level,” (Johnson, 729). Maybe these modern day artists will prove to the world that the title of “starving artist” is not entirely true. That there are ways that artists can make a living with keeping true to their creativity and emotions. If the artists of today could accept to teach pupils of tomorrow, skills could be contained and passed establishing newer artists, inventive art styles, and keeping traditions alive (Johnson, 729).
"My five year old can do that!"-the main reaction to many critics against abstract art. They believe that the art before them is a matter of paint splatters and a high price tag. Kandinsky, a famous abstract artist, claimed that "of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult" (Offord). "Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an explosion into the unknown areas" (Offord). The vain human kind does not open their eyes to see the true beauty and representation of what is before them. Look through the paint splatter and geometric shapes, see what is inside, and go with the emotion perceived in the viewers self. Just then will they comprehend what exactly the painter is trying to portray (“Understanding”). Though it is very understandable by why they think that. Abstract is harder to understand than representational and other art styles (“Understanding”). It is only when a person understands the life and culture of an artist that they see his or her work in a different view (“Understanding”). Sometimes the colors the painter uses in his art work, one can interpret his meaning. Red usually means lively or confident, yellow is warm and exciting, and blue is deep, supernatural, and sadness (“Abstract Art.” www.arthistory). Art is a representation of the soul, people, mainly these critics, need to open their eyes and see the soul within.
Competition in the art industry is a very risky business considering the high demand and need for designs for businesses, homes, and industries. People that have studied and earned their degrees for a place in the art industry might make it if they paired up with other businesses. However, most not as fortunate artists will earn their money somewhere else. Like so, more than half of the artists out in the world today are self employed by selling their artwork by themselves (Offord). When the recession hit, artists have had to rely on other means and struggle to make their living even more than before (“Abstract Art.” This reflects the statement "starving artist" in a way. In 2003 "Art Business Today" magazine polled 800 art galleries in the United Kingdom to list which subjects were most sold in fine art prints. The list, in order from top selling, is as followed: traditional landscapes, local views, modern and semi-abstract landscapes, abstracts, dogs, figure studies, seascapes and beach scenes, wildlife, impressionistic landscapes, and nudes (Offord). Four years later, they polled again and the best-selling list changed: local views, traditional landscapes, semi-abstract landscapes, street, town, and cityscapes, sea and beach scenes, wildlife, figure studies and narrative scenes, naive and high stylized figurative scenes, impressionistic landscapes, and humorous and cartoon images (Offord). Abstract art went from landing in the top four best selling to non-existent in the small time lap of four years. A reason this drastic decline in this style of art came to be is the simple explanation that less talented artists are taking advantage of abstract art (Offord). These people put half of the effort that professionals put down on canvas. This state of mind cheapens the expression and style making it seem that art is just a matter of paint splats and an unimaginative mind. However, for the true artists out there that do want to make a mark in the art world, there are ways to earn this living. Selling art requires a general knowledge of marketing and business administration (Offord). Consult books, blogs, websites, seminars, local colleges, galleries, and art associations for art publicity (“Abstract Art“ Potential buyers will stumble upon the artist and their artwork. Though if the artist is planning to sport their pieces in start up internet galleries, be careful and wary. Many of these kinds of internet galleries do not last long (“Abstract Art“ Making sure that the internet gallery the artist has chosen is not a bad site look for these things: Does the site look professional? Does it show images without permission or proper identification? Is the site so large that it looses the individual artists? (“Abstract Art“ If the answer is yes, make sure to keep looking. There are several popular professional websites that will skyrocket art sales. However, keep eyes open for opportunities. Sign up for local art galleries, feature in businesses, and put plenty of flyers around the local scene (Offord). It is best to spread as much of the artist's name and talent around. As many people become familiar with the artist's name, buyers will buy and art will sell. Art festivals and art shows are very popular and successful opportunities as well (Offord). Though this kind of opportunity may not be some people's type of thing. It involves the ability to socialize and be willing to stand and move around for long periods of time. To buy a booth for the event, it usually ranges from two hundred dollars to three hundred. Some other booths might be more expensive like in the couple thousands (Offord). Make sure to do the math while planning to join. Count the cost of travel, cost of shipping, material supplies, and accessories to make the booth more appealing (Offord). Start small when doing such things. An idea to reduce cost is to rent, borrow, or even share a booth with another member of the art and craft community (Offord). Pack enough work to sell and price it right. Buyers are drawn to cheaper work. These prices range from a few hundred to a couple thousand (Offord). Make sure to bring a credit card machine considering credit card is the most popular currency today. It saves the trouble of a bounced check (Offord). When going to an art festival, bring a partner. Art festivals are physically and emotionally exhausting. A partner will serve as a good substitute when the seller is busy with other customers or on break (Offord). In the booth a mailing list and crowd pleaser provides people around to be instantly drawn to the artwork and contact information for the artist to keep the fans updated (Offord). Not every art festival will produce the same profit. Some days it will have a great turn out while others won't. The same applies to websites and other means of selling. As the artist's name and work gets around, people will appreciate the talent more and might bring the abstract style back to the top selling list again. This is encouragable to true artists to produce quality work if they want to stay in the business (Offord).
When the viewer in a museum looks at the different selections of paintings and notices the difference between one that has details of a professional and the other of what seems to be of a child with paint splatters everywhere, that second piece of artwork may be of the abstract art style, a very underestimated style. Though, art is art whether it is most difficult to understand or if it seems like a five year old did it. It must always include emotions and life because without it, it is just an image with a starving artist behind the easel.
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Johnson, Paul. Art: A New History. New York: Harper Collins, 2003. Print.
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