Get Out of Your Own Way

Sitting at my kitchen table, with a book on abstract art taking center stage on my laptop’s screen, there’s movement to my left, just outside of the double window. On my front porch, one of the empty rocking chairs is gently moving forward and back, ignoring the lack of a person within its seat. I see that the wind is blowing a whisper that makes the trees sway as well, and suddenly, as I read the words of the book’s author, a new idea comes to my mind.

It has nothing to do with abstract art, rocking chairs, or wind. Such is the nature of inspiration.

Abstract art by Debora Stewart | ArtistsNetwork.com

Abstract art by Debora Stewart

But I do believe that reading about the abstract art techniques of Debora Stewart helped spark the idea that I’m going to put into action. I had read through several pages of her book, Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media, and took it all into consideration. The sentence that made me stop in my tracks was simply, “You [may] start out to create a horizontal rectangular work and end up with a vertical work.” Before I knew it, I was making written notes about a piece that I’ve been considering recently. Reading that one sentence, an image came to my mind of my next project, but instead of it being horizontal, vertical, or as I originally envisioned, square, I saw it as two separate canvases, side by side.

How to make abstract art | ArtistsNetwork.com

Portraying love in abstract art: “Using warm colors, I tend to move my charcoal in circular patterns, blending the lines to make it reflect a warm and fuzzy feeling,” says Stewart. “I darken the middle circles to reflect the intensity of the feeling from the center core of the canvas.”

The chapter I was reading was about working intuitively to create abstract art, and learning how to switch gears if you’re more used to working with realism, for example. She goes on to explain how it’s beneficial to work in a different style from what you’re used to, to help you better understand your own process, likes, dislikes, and style. I couldn’t agree more, as this truly applies across all of the arts. I believe that this is how new ideas–truly new, unique ideas–are born in our world. We “cross-contaminate,” if you will, and things come to mind that may have otherwise been lost to the wind.

Stewart goes on to say this about making abstract art: “In abstraction you must be open to change and surprise along the way. You must let go of outcomes. You do need to have a plan and direction for what you hope to accomplish, but you also need to be open to changing direction. I like to think of it as ‘getting out of my own way.’ On my best days, I start out with a vague plan of composition, color and size. I begin to work and I’m open to things moving in a different direction. This is what’s exciting to me about abstraction. You get unexpected results that are often better than your original plan.”

If you’re ready to expand your thinking, get yourself a copy of Stewart’s Abstract Art Painting here. In addition to pages and pages of inspiration and striking abstract paintings, you’ll find lessons on exploring with pastel and acrylic, tips for working with color and value, and much more.

Wishing you endless inspiration,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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