Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Adventures in Abstraction


So yesterday was one of those catch up and get organized days. Lots of digging for paperwork, making phone calls, sitting on hold, emails, throwing away magazines and catalogs, Aaron cleared the winter clothes out of his closet and put a thousand books in there instead...you know the kind of day I'm talking about. Its not hard work, but it seems to coil around your spine a bit. So we had to decompress. We cooked an early dinner and afterwards went right into the studio to make art. 
The plan was to paint...but the tricky part for Aaron is that we were going to paint in a non-representational style. This has been my go-to style for a long time. This is how I paint when I paint for me. Aaron works like this, but mainly he does it for backgrounds of mixed media collages. He's really an illustrator in his heart...he designs and paints stuff that have a very finished product/greeting card quality to them. So, seriously...there was a big pause before he could even put the first drops of paint to canvas. He's a planner and a sketcher...so having no plans was a little odd for him. Well, I can't say we were completely plan free...the one loose rule is that we wanted all three pieces to hang together and sorta have some unity in theme and color.
Above are the results of last evening and this morning. Mine is the large one on bottom and the two up top are Aar's. He cheated a bit on the little square piece...there's definitely some form to his freestyle...but close enough ; )


I feel like you will know my work from a mile away. The colors, the polka dots, the speckling. The key is to surround yourself with colors, tools, and mediums that you like to work with. Then let the art speak through your hands.


Here's where me and Aaron maybe differ from a lot of artists...We are always open to each other's suggestions. Even if it's not a collaborative work...we still keep our ears open for advice. The thing is...he trusts me and I trust him. Above, you can see the thick paint work Aaron did with a palette knife. While he let it dry a bit I told him he should see what he could add to it with a charcoal pencil. Here he is fading some of his pencil lines.


Aaron really likes his paint to have a physical presence. He adds loads of molding paste and heavy gel medium right onto his paint filled brush.


And here you can see I'm way more color-shape-pattern...and the way you can make these three things play off each other. I just love to cover something up and to see it peek back through. Look at how the crosshatch of Distress Ink in the top left corner seems to bleed through the layers of color. 


Here again you can see the magic of Distress Ink...and also just how much I like pops of color all piled up and peeking out from behind one another. Aaron kinda works the entire canvas...while I like to flit from section to section to create multiple points of interest.


At one point we got pretty tired out and both decided to call it a night and watch a movie. Then we re-entered the studio this morning to get a look at our work with fresh eyes. I highly recommend this tactic. Above you can see that the morning light through the window was great...and we both had brand new energy to work with. 


Again, Aaron the thinker, first took time to contemplate his next moves while enjoying a strawberry pineapple smoothie.


Here's the thing with painting in this style...A whole lotta people are scared to work in this way. I always hear about people not knowing where to begin. And it's a valid fear...that big empty canvas can be daunting. So let me offer a tip that I work with...Don't approach the canvas with an ideal picture in your mind. You will never match it...you'll never live up to your ideal. In fact, try to think sorta opposite of that. I often just think about what I DON'T want it to look like. I focus on the avenues that I plan on steering clear of. And then I surround myself with the stuff I love and work from there. 
For Aaron, he likes to choose a feeling, or phrase, or song. And with the song he's pretty much focusing on a certain phrase in it, and the feeling that the song gives him. Above is the title of his little square piece...based on a lyric from one of his favorite Strokes songs...hear below.





Another example of approaching your work with fresh eyes. Last night Aaron had hit a stand-still...and this morning, the second he saw his piece he went in search of this bird. He saw his random paint dots as a spiraling flock fleeing a pink city. (see what I mean?...even if the painting started out as random...he still let his revisionist brain trick him and make it into a landscape of sorts.)


I just love painting and covering, painting and covering. When I felt like I had painted and covered enough I then laid on some heavy gel medium to make it soft and cloudy and filmy.


And you can't see it too well in this photo...but I embedded some German glass glitter in the gel medium. Little focal points like this just make it. It's so cool to make the surface of your work able to reflect tiny bits of light. In person your eye really does catch these little details.


When we ship our artwork out to customers we always put some of this glittered aqua tissue paper in the box. Aaron thought it would be perfect to wrap the sides of his piece with. He just cut and tore pieces and decoupaged them on and then sanded the edges off.


My piece, entitled "Just don't go off the deep end" is on a wood panel measuring 12 x 24.


Aaron's larger piece is on an 11 x 14 canvas and is titled "disappear here". Below is a detail shot of the center of his canvas.



And his little guy is on a 6 x 6 wood panel...the title is right there plain as day..."I like it right here but I cannot stay."

We hope you enjoyed this peek into our process. And more than anything we hope we've given you at least a teeny bit of inspiration to go and get creative with some paint...totally freestyle...non-representational...and completely cathartic, transportive, stimulating, and restorative to your soul.

We'd love to see what you've been up to lately! Feel free to put a link to your latest mixed media adventures in our comments. And if you have any questions...feel free to ask!

xo, Jenny & Aaron

33 comments:

  1. I just love these looks into your creative process. I never could do the abstract thing, my art has mostly always been very precise and more photo-realistic. Last year I started playing around with watercolor and I that has helped me loosen up quite a bit. Maybe I'll attempt an abstract piece sometime soon. I'll let you know if I do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! It really does help your artistic process overall...we're not exactly sure how though ;) But really...Aaron had so much trouble in the past. He'd ask me things like "but how do you know when your done?" ...he was so used to rendering things all the way. But then he started working with textured mediums and that unlocked something for him. I definitely recommend getting some heavy gel medium and molding paste.

      Delete
  2. I love your process....after reading this I realize I identify more with Aaron's process....I feel like I have to have a plan soooooooo...I have two days off and a deck so I canpaint outdoors....I am going to let go and just create...I'll let you know
    Always, michele

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Michele, Aaron here. I seriously know about your tentative approach. I definitely urge you to add more even when you think you've got something looking pretty good. I'm one of those people who like every step to look complete. So all throughout this process I kept joking with Jenny saying "I'm done."...but then I'd throw on a whole new layer and it would look eve better to me. Also, if an area irks you...you can wipe or scrub or scrape it off and re-layer. I did. Thanks! let us know how it goes!

      Delete
  3. These are gorgeous!! I am LOVING the colors!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Julie! We LIVE for these colors!

      Delete
  4. Hi Jenny! I'm loving these paintings! I adore abstract art and of course I love your colors and dots!!! So fun! I would love to try painting this way someday. Thanks for the great tips!
    Michelle xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Michelle, you really have to make time to do it. It's all about making it look good to your own eyes...no preconceived notions of what is acceptable art or whatever.

      Delete
  5. I really enjoyed watching this exercise. Although I appreciate your artistically disciplined work, I must say that the more spontaneous, organic work is very interesting, as it actually comes from deep inside the psyche with you as co-creator, with your psyche taking the lead, which is totally unpredictable and genuine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! We always look forward to your thoughtful comments Miss Diva!

      Delete
  6. I love the quotes you two have used.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! We always kinda have an inner dialogue about how we feel about the paintings. It's usually just a phrase or a even a word...but they do influence the final result.

      Delete
  7. Adoro le vostre meravigliose astrazioni pastello!!
    Bellalullo

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's wonderful to see your process from your picture you posted on IG! I love them both and I totally agree that you can tell which one is yours. I'm obsessed with anything pastel and I'd love to have something like this in my bedroom. The wording & pictures really make the canvas stand out :) Love! Love! Love!

    Lulu xx

    http://luluslittlewonderland.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Lulu! Really, this type of artwork almost "speaks" more than anything representational...Aaron likes to look at pieces I did and find his "favorite spot" of the day. Because it always changes...its almost more about the mood the looker brings to it.

      Delete
  9. Oh and it also makes me want to get back at painting again! It's been a long time since I last did! You've inspired me to make this a hobby of mine again :) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well that is awesome to hear! that makes us both smile really big!!

      Delete
  10. Fresh comes to mind when I see you and Aaron creating! The color palette - fresh and inviting to my eyes! I haven't tried a large canvas yet...but this posting sure inspires me to try! I need to take on the suggestions of surrounding my table with colors I love! Totally rocks!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We love that word! Thats probably what we try to attain the most. We want our art to be the opposite of the daily mundane...or the drudgery that can seep into life. It's all about keeping Fresh! Thanks so much for the inspired words!

      Delete
  11. Beautiful paintings--and I love the titles you gave to each of them! I've recently gotten into art journaling and would never have thought to use gel medium in the way you describe--will give it a try. Thanks for the peek into your creative process!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The titles are sometimes pre-thought...or sometimes a final thought. With me the titles usually come to me about midway through the process...it'll capture how I'm feeling while creating the certain piece. And yes...get lots of heavy gel medium, use it liberally and you'll love what it does to your paint.

      Delete
  12. Beautiful work and how well they coordinate! I love hearing about your process...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much...we can't help but inhabit each other's brains!

      Delete
  13. Aw that's just so very interesting to see and hear how you make your abstract pieces and about your different approaches, I just love it! This is not totally new to me because my sister who is a (full time) German mixed media artist (http://cordulakagemann.net/) showed me her process before and it is like yours Jenny (whereas I'm more like Aaron), especially with the layering and letting layers underneath shine through and she's also very fond of dots and circles in her art. Both your pieces turned out so cool! You two always inspire me, if only the day had more hours *Sigh* Off to work now. Btw your sweet Charlotte made an appearance in my WBC post last night ;-)
    Sending you happy weekend wishes!
    xoxo~ Carola

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carola, you are so sweet!! Lots more people tend to relate to Aaron. And jeez...more hours in the day would be fabulous! Luckily for us...we were able to shift our priorities lately and do lots more creating without falling behind in other responsibilities. It is very challenging though. Thanks for taking our girl Charlotte out for a night on the Web! xoxo!

      Delete
  14. Hi, Jenny. I've been in love with your art for awhile now, and thought I'd stop in because I just created a blog myself as of yesterday. My mom-in-law, blog is Viv on a Whim, introduced me to you and a few others and I'm excited to start playing on here. Thank you for allowing us a peak inside your creative processes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Tiffany! We love Viv! Me and Aaron both just read your post from yesterday and our hearts go out to you and your husband. Besides being so brave and strong, you are a fantastic writer. Not many people can capture their deepest feelings so clearly in words. I know there are many people you will help to heal.

      Delete
  15. I love that you both just let the art take you where it will. I never start off with any plan in mind, I just work haphazardly and let the art speak for itself to guide me to the next color or stroke. Love all of these pieces of art!

    Christine Barker
    www.ScarletCalliope.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! i love the pastels, the texturing and use of script too - right up my street :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I absolutely adore the work y'all do and the beautiful creations you create. I especially love how you explain how you guys work and what you did along the way. Your explanations and tips and hints help us not so experienced artists learn new stuff! Thanks for being you and for sharing all that you do. You guys ROCK!!!!!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for reading! We absolutely love to hear from you guys...so please leave a comment if the mood strikes you, or if you have any questions for us about a recipe, project, art supply , paint color, etc. Don't panic if your comment doesn't appear right away...we moderate all comments to avoid getting tons of spam. Thanks again!!
xo Jenny & Aaron