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Category Archives: Art

Mystical Abstract Art

The world of art and the environment of the mystical go back a long way together with many facets in common with one another – one being that they both seek to look into a deep unknown – and then seek to manifest it into this physical world by one means or another.

Therefore it is understandable that a non-representational picture can be difficult to comment on. The viewer might be “moved” by the artwork, but they may not really know why. I believe it has something to do with their sleeping soul being gently (or violently) shaken into a specific awareness. The earthy physical body may have very little understanding as to what might be happening, so they are left to struggle in explaining a spiritual concept from a physical point of view.

However, as an artist who has acquired (and lives by) a little understanding of certain spiritual aspects, here are my offerings of what I believe happens when a viewer comes across a mystical abstract painting.

In order to do that I want to present the whole episode from all aspects:

The Spirit

One of the Spirit’s major intentions is to bring spiritual understanding into the physical realm. One way to do that is to enter time and manifest a potential opportunity for a receptive body. That receptive body can either be the person being offered the opportunity – or the messenger of it. If they are the messenger then there are many ways in which that message can be put across … and one of them is by producing a provocative illustration or allegory in the form of an abstract painting.

The Messenger

… Or Artist in this case … Or more specifically an artist who is prone to take note of their own inner enigmatic visuals. Once inspired the artist then sets about translating these visions into a personal style of depiction. I think it is quite probable that many an artist will be unconscious of what exactly they are putting down upon the canvas … all they might know is that there is an urgent complusion to work with particular colours, or in a specific style.

The Art

A personalized manifestation of the inner visuals … portrayed on board or canvas – or any other handy appropriate medium at the time. The artist lets the visual take shape in their mind and allows for interpretation into the physical world … which results in an artwork of surreal allegory, or be-riddled story, or just a simple abstract presentation of specific colours or shapes. Each element of the art will include (or be) a potential key ready to allow the appropriate viewer entrance into its intriguing yet creative environment.

The Viewer

A receptive observer viewing the art may initially have an indefinable affinity with it. They are perhaps first emotionally drawn to the image before them. And as their thoughts begin to trigger other thoughts, gradual realizations start to become apparent … gaining strength until they acquire a personal creative understanding seen only by themselves but which may eventually involve others who come into contact with them.

The Gift

The originally unknown vision now begins to unfold its truth within the receptive viewer. This can be in many guises … a simple affirmation … a personal revelation … a specific spiritual, mental, or inner encouragement … an energizing edification for a hungry or floundering soul … offering a sense of contentment within a challenging situation … This gift can be as simple or as complicated as is required for the viewer. Its influence can be timeless – remaining relevant over a period of days, weeks, months, or years.

So the next time you seek to produce a piece of art or decide to visit a gallery do not hesitate or dwell upon any lack within you … rather open your eyes (after all they are supposed to be the windows of the body) and prepare yourself to either see in order to create – or see in order to receive.

Abstract Art and The Spirit

I would argue that they were in fact just one very important example of the hungry sleep-drugged soul seeking a way to be heard. However, many artsists of those times, and indeed today, would flatly deny anything remotely to do with spiritual things – or worse still – religious things.

Take, for instance, one of my favourites – Mark Rothko. This tragic artist committed himself to the task of producing massive canvases with many vaguely resembling the outline of a window – especially an after image once the eye has closed. His vast expanses of colour seemed to hunt out a corner or edge in a desperate attempt to complete, or conclude, the picture. Not satisfied with that he went on to give up titling his work saying that he did not want to influence the onlooker in any way. Ironically he failed … and sadly took his own life. For me his works speak of wonderful tantilizing clues visually demonstrating the struggling spirit seeking (and succeeding!) in revealing herself – now that is real influence! Let me explain by an apparently unrelated route:

I seek to assist my own spirit in attempting to make manifest even the tiniest, most pathetic, weakest fact that the spirit in us all is not only just trying to communicate with us – but is in fact actively seeking to set the whole human balance right … which is the spirit leading the mind and body back to her source – not the other way round – the mind and body leading the blinded soul to … well, eventually death.

Not so long ago I came across the writings of Meister Eckhart, a fourteenth century Christian mystic. His words amazed me. He described in his many sermons what he believed to be the truth as to why we are here. He also revealed many tantilizing “images” of the spirit from the least angelic being right up to God Himself. His descriptions were … how can I put it simply? … abstract!

In one of his sermons he described God as … “unknowable” … “not able to be understood” … “undefinable”. In another he made a statement (one of many which may have contributed to him being accused of heresy!) “People say God exists … God does not exist … ” left out of context that would be a truly blasphemous assertion. But he went on to say that “… God is far greater … God is beyond existance”. These and many other controversial sayings have impressed me so much that I have come to “see” God as an abstract entity – not, I hasten to add, an anarchic abstract form – but rather a God far more powerful, far more greater – than I can imagine … in other words totally undefinable. Rather than this putting a distance between me and God, it has done exactly the opposite. And when Eckhart began to describe the life of Christ in an almost completely abstract way – Eckhart said that Christs life was the greatest example of the seeking and finding the uncreated source of the pure soul – my imagination began to run like a film of frenzied obscure visuals. Eckhart has become, to me, the patron saint of abstract artists.

The beauty of Eckharts enigmatic words are intensely inspiring. What better way to illustrate his poetic writings than to describe Gods “isness” in the very basic form of a gigantic flat area of one saturated colour untainted by anythingelse. Strangely enough this could be part of an exact description from one of Rothko’s immense, sometimes almost monochromatic, paintings.

But this is by no means the whole story … one of Eckhart’s contradictions said that on the one hand God is totally unapproachable, yet at the same time God is actually very, very approachable …

 

Produce Canvas Prints

There are two main ways that person can produce canvas prints. They are by canvas transferring and printing directly on the canvas. Both can produce high-quality results, and can be made to look as close to the original as possible.

When it comes to reproducing an artist’s original canvas art prints, it is obvious that the reproduction should look as much like the original as possible. By using several techniques, it makes it easy to produce canvas art prints that look just as good as the original.

Transferring to make canvas art prints is the most common of the two techniques. It begins with a standard, offset paper print that is made in the traditional way from the original. The print is then coated with a series of special chemicals that are designed to allow the paper and the ink to separate from each other. That means when the paper is removed, the ink remains.

The canvass is then prepped with adhesive, and the film is carefully laid on it. Pressure is applied to bond the film to the canvas, which is then set aside to dry. The result is a beautiful canvas art print that looks very much like the original.

Printing directly on the canvas to produce canvas art prints is the second most commonly used method.

Other methods used consist of direct offset printing, where a piece of canvas is run through an offset press; Repligraphy, where a hot-melt color dye printing system is used to create an oil-based film that adheres to the canvas; and Artagraphs, which features a mold of both the artist’s original brushstrokes and textures.

How can you tell if a piece of art is the original or a canvas art print reproduction? Although it may seem hard, there are clues that someone can use to tell what is real and what is a copy.

The first is to look for limited edition print numbers, which are normally found at the bottom of the work in xx/yy format. When producing canvas art prints, a reproduction often leaves this out.

Canvas art prints are usually completely flat or have small applications of hand-applied paint that is referred to as highlight. If the canvas art print is flat to the touch, then it’s probably a reproduction. Originals mostly include areas of texture.

Highlights can be obvious to see. A hightlight can be simply a small dab of paint, which is quite different from an artist’s actual brushstroke.

Other options include using a high-powered microscope to look for standard dot patterns and/or calling a gallery to see if they have someone who can identify your canvas art print as an original or a reproduction.

 

Tips to Buy an Abstract Painting

Here is the first realization – and question to ask yourself – why exactly is this piece you are looking at “not quite right”? The answer can be manifold:

1. It includes a colour I do not like
2. I am not sure it will go with another item in the space I would like to place it
3. A slow realization that a certain personal undesirable association is being emitted from the painting
4. It looks great but I am not sure it will fit the space
5. It is just right but the price is a little bit more than I wanted to pay… and the list goes on.

Although I do not have all the answers I will endeavour to reveal, from my own personal experiences, a few solutions.

So, you see a picture you like but the colour combination is wrong. Put simply the thing to do is to contact the artist and tell them your dilemma. You will find that some of them will either be able to reproduce a similar work in the colours you prefer, or they will be willing to notify you when and if they produce a work that might be nearer to the colours theat you require.

If size is an issue then I would advise the same as above – contact the artist and tell them the problem. I believe you will receive a similar reply to that which I have written above.

Make sure that when you do make a purchase that the artist is offering a return policy. I have a ten day return policy which means that if you buy a painting and hang it in your space – if within ten days of purchasing it you become uncomfortable with it for any reason and you cannot live with it, then you may return the piece and your money will be returned. An important point here worth mentioning is the fact that you have made certain decisions on buying this piece of work, therefore it is worthwhile mentioning it to the artist which will enable them, if they so inclined, to produce a work that has omitted the undesirable entity. This way you may well end up with a work that will be of greater value to you – having communicated your dilemma.

Price can be a tricky challenge – but many artists offer different ways to help you buy the piece you want. If, for instance, the piece you like is too expensive for you then you have a number of choices. Perhaps the most preferable choice is for you to negotiate the price with the artist. However, please bear in mind that the artist has produced a totally unique painting – there is nothing like it in all the world! Also spare a thought for the fact that the artist will have spent time struggling to get the work out onto the canvas. A well known saying is that a piece may well have taken only a few hours to produce, but you should also take into account the years the artist has been at work – so if someone says to me “it can only have taken you three hours at the most” I reply “no… it has taken me FORTY YEARS and three hours!” If you keep these in mind then negotiate with what you might see as a realistic price for you and a price that will have taken the above into account for the artist.

Some artists will not barter prices – but they may be willing to sell you the work if you pay by installments. You have to ask yourself here “Do I REALLY want this piece?” If you answer yes then you will find the money… because you want to – you want the work.

Let us say that you see an artists work – you love the style – you would very much like to have a painting on your wall… but you see nothing that grabs you. Try contacting the artists and commissioning them to painting you a picture… this way you may be able to influence the end result by instructing the artist to use certain colours, or specific shapes. Or if they are not inclined to work that way then they might put you on their mailing list that will inform you when their latest piece is about to go on show – you will be offered “first refusal”.

One final thing worth mentioning is the fact that a growing number of artists are making their works available as high quality giclee prints. These reproductions are very close to the original work, and some of the reproduction houses actually ensure that every brush stroke has the appropriate texture and “feel”. So in many ways you could purchase a work that is almost identical to the original piece except for one very big fact – the price of the print. The print will be of a limited edition, making it a collectible investment – and it will have been checked, numbered, and signed by the artist.

If none of the above proves to be useful to you then the simplest thing to do is contact the artist and just talk to them, tell them what you think of their work, what you are looking for – anything… just communicate with them, and I think you will find that you will not only buy yourself something that you will love and cherish … but you will also bond with the artist themself in a way that you could never do if you walked into a place selling paintings and chose a piece hanging on a wall.

 

Therapy with Abstract Art

There is, I believe, a definate therapeutic value to be found in most of the enigmatic marks made by the very different styles available today. What appears to be the most important decision to make is a very careful consideration of the specific audience in conjunction with the choosing of the appropriate artwork. This is not something to be taken lightly or quickly. This can cover anybody within the wide spectrum of individual audiences: a busy boardroom environment or a single office or room where quick thinking, fast reactions, and serious decision making is required; or a worker who returns from a hard days work simply wanting to be visually massaged by an easily observed enigma; or even the space inwhich the desperate and mostly misunderstood person who is gradually loosing their tentative hold on the sense of reality. There is a tremendous variety of possibilities.

Here are some suggested associations from one artists point of view:

Colour plays an obvious healing and therapeutic role to be found in a carefully selected crafted piece, and so colour-field work, which is growing in popularity, first conceived by artists like Mark Rothko and Ellsworth Kelly with their vast areas of empty colour space, might add a general feeling of peace and quiet to an otherwise noisy and hectic environment. With there being very few variations within such a large image a gentle sense of immersion into abstract stillness can slow down any fretful or irratic thinking, and even assist with the adrenal challenge of a creative.

Indefinate shapes or patterns by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Peter Lanyon, and Howard Hodgkin (again, similar works inspired by these very different abstract styles can be seen in many exhibitions, shops and galleries), show a very positive association, and may perhaps persuade a mind filled with illogical thoughts to pause, simply take in the apparent spontenaiety, and then take a different direction. Hodgkin style works in particular can be seen as puzzle like canvases inwhich the observer has no real point of reference so is free to “start” anywhere upon the picture. And because there are very few defined areas sometimes the observer inevitably finds themself either regarding the piece with little emotion, and therefore can freely make a comment – positive or not.

Let us not deny, however, the fact that many an image that has the potential to provoke a negative response can also be of great value to the observer who might actually benefit from seeing such a challenging picture that bears such a bad association. Better there on the wall than here inside the head. In this case the classic associations of red for blood and danger, black for death and sin, brown for decay and illness, along with dramatic lines and movements found in a painting are equally valuable stimulii if revealed within the appropriate environment. This comes back to my point made at the beginning – when choosing a picture, very careful consideration must be taken in order to find that one work of art which speaks directly to the very deepest parts of the observer.

Abstract Art

A simple, common definition of “abstract art” is “not realistic.” Yet many artists who call their work abstract, actually do have a subject in mind when they paint. They take a figure or landscape and simplify it, exaggerate it, or stylize it in some way. They are not trying to imitate nature, but to use nature as a starting off point. Color, line, and form are more important to them than the details of the actual subject matter. They want to give a sense or feel for the subject rather than an exact replication.

Historically, the term “abstract” has been associated with a variety of art movements. The cubism of Picasso, Braque and Cezanne was a geometrical abstraction. In the United States, a group also known as the New York school of action painters was defined by critics as “abstract expressionists.” Yet the individuals in this group varied greatly in their approaches. Jackson Pollock did overall drip paintings. Mark Rothko painted shimmering color field canvases based on a simple square pattern. Willem de Kooning did not abandon subject matter like the others, but abstracted the female figure in much of his work.

Art that has no intentional beginnings in any subject matter is sometimes referred to as “non-objective,” or “non-representational.” A related term is “minimalism,” or the tendency to take as much away from the painterly surface of the canvas as possible. A white square painted on a white background is an example of minimalism. The end result is not so much the point as the daring it took to get there.

“Modern art” is another term commonly used to refer to abstract art, though originally this term was used to differentiate the experimenters of the twentieth century from the traditional European painters and sculptors. Thus, “modern art” began over seventy years ago, and is no longer new. Many movements in art have come and gone since then. For example, “pop art” incorporates popular culture such as comics and movie stars. Well-known artists of this genre include Andy Warhol, who painted Cambell’s soup cans and portraits of Marilyn Monroe; and Jasper Johns, who did a series of flag paintings.

“Contemporary art” is another one of those terms that covers a wide variety of art. The best definition of “contemporary” is the work of any living artist, though the term has also been used to mean art that you would hang in a contemporary home. This sense of contemporary is more like the term “modern,” in that it means the opposite of “traditional.” Thus, “contemporary art” is also sometimes used to mean “abstract art.”

Another way to define the term “abstract art” is to enter it as a search term on Google or Yahoo and look at the results. There will be millions of them, proving that the term is used today to cover a vast amount of art. I use the term “abstract art” to define my own painting because I know that people who love my art tend to define it this way. They often find me by entering the term on Google. Others use the term “modern art” or “contemporary art” to find me.

So where does that leave us in our definition of abstract art? Like most definitions of art movements, the answer is complex. We can look at it historically from an art critic’s perspective, or use it as the general public would, to mean something other than traditional realistic representation.

 

About Giclee

In the French dictionary a giclee (zhee-CLAY) will be defined as meaning “to spray or squirt.” However others might say “giclee” doesn’t mean “to spray,” that “Giclee” isn’t an infinitive and that it is the feminine of a past participle. So if there is some argument over what the term Giclee means I believe that the intention of the term is to define a printed copy of an original artwork. Giclee is basically scanning the artwork and then using that scan to print it out on a special printer. This printer is not the same as a standard desktop inkjet printer, and is much larger. Giclee prints are a little over a meter wide and are often referred to as a “knitting machine” as they look very similar.

Giclees are produced from digital scans of existing artwork. Also, since many artists now produce only digital art, there is no “original” that can be hung on a wall. Giclees solve that problem, while creating a whole new vibrant digital medium for art.

When printing there are any number of media for example canvas to watercolor paper to transparent acetates. Giclees are better then the traditional lithography in many ways. The colors are brighter, last longer and are so high-resolution that they are virtually continuous tone, rather than tiny dots. The range of color for giclees is far beyond that of lithography, and by viewing in comparison with each other you will find that the details are far crisper in giclee.

Lithography prints use tiny dots of four colors–cyan, magenta, yellow and black; to fool the eye into seeing various hues and shades. Colors are “created” by printing different size dots of these four colors.

Again Giclees use inkjet technology, but more sophisticated than your desktop printer. The process employs six colors–light cyan, cyan, light magenta, magenta, yellow and black–of lightfast, pigmented inks and finer, more numerous, and replaceable print heads resulting in a wider color gamut, and the ability to use various media to print on. The ink is sprayed onto the page, actually mixing the color on the page to create true shades and hues.

Giclees were originally developed as a proofing system for lithograph printing presses, but it became apparent that the presses were having a hard time delivering the quality and color of the giclee proofs. They evolved into the more popular form over lithography’s and are now the cheaper and more common way to make a copy print. They are coveted by collectors for their fidelity and quality, and desired by galleries because they don’t have to be produced in huge quantities with their large layout of capital and storage.

In addition, Giclees are produced directly from a digital file that is created by scanning the original. This will save generations of detail-robbing negatives and printing plates, as with traditional printing.

 

Flower Painting

Flower painting has a wonderful history. Botanical art has been used to document numerous species of flowers and plants. There is something very satisfying and magical about painting a flower and preserving just what it was like forever. Of course, flower photographs can do the same but when you paint you have the added pleasure of carefully examining the curves and colours of each petal, stamen, stem and leaf. You have to observe the way the light catches the flower and use this information to give it a 3D presence on your paper. By painting flowers, you get to know them intimately.

I would advise anyone wanting to start painting to begin with their favourite flower, no matter how complex it might seem. By choosing your favourite, you will be motivated to try again to render it well. Your feelings have a better chance of being transferred into your flower painting too. When a flower painting makes you gasp, it is because it initially did the same for the artist and they have found a way of sharing that with you. It doesn’t matter if your attempts aren’t perfect. Each time you try you will become more familiar with it’s shape. It will seem easier to paint and you will notice more about the nuances of colour and the way light can affect it.

Of course, there are some useful techniques which might help you learn flower painting. Many excellent art books have been written about this topic and your bookstore will certainly have several. But be wary of simply copying another artists’ techniques. You may be surprised to find that you are less satisfied with the results than you are with simply observing your favourite flower and perfecting your vision of it with each attempt.

Try drawing with different materials, have fun and keep all your attempts. You will be encouraged to see how your vision and skill improves simply by practise. I use pastels, both the soft powdery ones and the deliciously oily variety. I love them because of their beautiful range of colours, from very pale to vibrant hues. I can extend this even further by overlaying thin veils of colour, allowing the underneath ones to sing through. Or perhaps you could try watercolour? This has long been a favourite of flower painters and botanical artists and for good reason. The way you can allow one luscious colour to randomly bleed into another, just as it does in nature, is very mouth-watering!

Know More about Still Life

A still life work can have many purposes. If we work in color it can help us understand how color acts in real life, how the light bounces, and how an arrangement of colors can bring a special mood to the painting. Using colored pencils we can begin studies about color, and work in the finest details. But in the case of black and white pencil drawings, the purpose of the still life pencil drawing is different. A still life pencil drawing can help us study shapes and see how they interact on our eyes, we learn how to measure correct proportions and how they can make the difference betwen a good drawing and a remarkable drawing.

When we get into shading, we then study tonal values. There are no colors here so we must learn how to see things in black and white mode, and correctly define which are going to be the dark and light areas on our still life pencil drawing.

Still lifes are the most available subjects in the world, and while some people may consider still life drawing boring, the fact is they teach us a lot. When you have no idea of what to draw, just make an arrangement of things you have at your house and start your still life pencil drawing. Don’t take just as bring cups and fruits, but instead focus on what you can learn from this. If you keep practicing on drawing still life scenes you will find out that you have a much better understanding on how light works, and how objects relate to each other within a composition and color scheme.

 

About Painting Conservation

One of the most noticeable defects the public observes on a painted surface is craquelure. Craquelure appears as a minute crazing pattern on a painting’s surface. The following layers make up a painting:

1. Stretcher bars are covered by a canvas support

2. Canvas is coated with a sizing medium

3. Gesso (a ground layer) is applied over the sizing medium

4. Paint is layered over the sizing medium

5. Varnish is capped over all these layers

Ideally all these layers dry uniformly. When the harmony of these layers is disrupted, a problem results, requiring conservation. For instance, as the different layers absorb and release moisture, expansion and contraction take place. As the materials age, the ongoing process of change can take its toll. Vibrations when art is transported can be harmful to one or more layers, even though temperature and humidity are controlled.

Returning to craquelure, it is understandable that the canvas has responds to a change in climactic conditions by either shrinking or swelling. The amount of stress might differ from the ground or paint layer. As these materials react to change differently, they result first in craquelure and finally become cleavage. Cleavage is the paint layer lifting from the canvas.

When craquelure appears as a function of age, it is generally left untouched, provided the painting is still legible. Should this condition become cleavage, a professional conservator must be consulted.

Another easily noticed problem is a slackening of the canvas, producing more “play” than was originally intended. Examine the stretcher bars. If all the corners are fixed by glue or nails and cannot be adjusted mechanically, your painting is attached to strainer bars, not stretcher bars. Stretcher bars have keys (wedges of wood that permit adjusting of the bars) or sophisticated metal elements that allow for adjustments. A canvas left for many years on strainer bars could rip once the canvas becomes brittle.

Yellowing or darkening varnish is another readily recognizable issue. About every 25 years, review canvases for a re-application of varnish. First the original varnish must be removed by a professional conservator.