We had a great group for the March 25, 26 & 27th 3-day non-objective Abstract Workshop. This was not a workshop where we threw in everything but the kitchen sink and called it an "abstract". We did not throw buckets of paint onto a large canvas and have the audacity to call it a work of art! On the contrary, we studied before we painted. We analyzed what makes a good shape: longer than it is tall or taller than it is wide; diagonal thrust; interlocking; incidents at its edges.
We explored the 8 principles of design: Alternation, Balance, Contrast/Conflict, Dominance, Gradation, Harmony, Repetition/Variation, and Unity. We then applied these principles to the 7 artistic elements—an artist's raw tools: Line, Direction, Color, Shape, Size, Texture and Value. In a non-objective abstraction, an artist has only these principles and elements to use to create a piece. These are the fundamentals.
I believe that knowledge of the fundamentals is essential to successful artistic self-expression. As Edgar Whitney said, "You can ignore these 13 principles and elements, but they will not ignore you". To try to "sing one's song" without a solid foundation in the basics, is a recipe for weak meandering paintings that will not hold together as strong works of art. A thorough knowledge the fundamentals allows for effortless expression in any art form.
I studied jazz piano for quite a few years. My goal was to be able to express myself through improvisation. I would not have been able to do that without first studying music theory and learning chord progressions, voicings, upper structures, scales and all the rest. Until these fundamentals became second nature, I could not express myself in a way that truly captured what I wanted to say in a free and confident way. It's the same with painting. It is true that one has to know the rules before one can break them.
There was a lot to think about while creating the paintings, but the workshop was not all hard work. After applying the fundamentals to design our paintings, we used bits of collage and crayon to enhance the work and add detail. We were more than painters; we became designers, shape makers and symbol collectors! The students loved the workshop. Below are a few of the students' finished pieces: