abstract is hard-image

Abstract art is hard

I’m beginning to think abstract art is hard!

My current painting project is an attempt to create a pure abstract work (at least according to how I understand it).

For me abstract painting is about “process” and much less about outcomes. Often I will go days in between painting sessions (drawing has been more of a passion lately).

During the in-between times I look at the work, ponder it and imagine all the genius approaches I will use when I’m ready to lay paint to canvas.

Then painting day arrives and I’m ready. I mix some paint, I start the process. After about 2 seconds I realize the grandiose thoughts I had in my tiny little brain are worthless. You can’t create a painting in your mind.

So having completely abandoned my initial thoughts of glory I revert back to “paint like a monkey”. I pour paint on the canvas and start spreading it around.

Oh great now it looks like a monkey really did paint it, or at the very least a child. However, the process feels great. A few hours later after the paint settles and dries I look at it … sigh, what is this crap … now what?

Abstract art can be a never ending process. I’m beginning to think the process of representational art is actually easier. Representational art has an outcome. It has direction, it has purpose.

My previous painting project started out as an abstract but was soon overcome by the need to represent something. The process became tedious and uninspiring yet at the same time produced a painting full of meaning.

Why is abstract so hard (for me)? Is it because I’m fighting an internal desire to create something viewers can relate to, verses the desire to simply please myself.

Is it my responsibility as an artist to create and share my work? Normally I might say yes, but to quote one of my favourite artists:

I don’t have to sell anything, show anything or even be any good! (I’m retired)

Ed Ritchie

Check out my progress from the last time I attacked my painting.

Monkey work previous
Monkey work previous
monkey work currently

As always I have included a copy of the header image for those that view this post via email.

abstract is hard-image
abstract is hard

(I really think WordPress should include headers in the email, or least offer it as an option.)


  1. I enjoyed your post, and I too, think abstract work is hard. Sometimes more than others. I have recently switch over to exclusively painting abstracts because I love being able to create something out of nothing. Keep up the great work and keep creating beautiful work. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love the freedom of not having any expectations of the outcome. Sometimes they are sloppy messes and other times I think whoa, how did that happen and I fall in love. Even if no one else likes it, I do. If it brings me joy and satisfaction then I see it as mission accomplished. If it brings others joy then it is an added bonus. I really liked all your versions, your use of colour is inspiring. Keep painting and whatever is inside you will come out if you let go of control of any particular outcome.

    Liked by 2 people

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