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