Abstract Expressionism - The Meditative Art Style
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), perhaps the most famous painter of abstract expressionism said, "When I am in a painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc, because the painting has a life of its own.
"I try to let it come through," Pollock continued. "It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well. When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of paint: there is no accident."
Fairfield Porter writing for The Nation in 1959, referred to master of abstract expressionism, Willem de Kooning (1904-1997). Porter wrote, "De Kooning's abstractions...release human significances that cannot be expressed verbally. It is as though his painting reached a different level of consciousness than painting..."
Colors, Forms, Lines, Curves and Mixed Media
Abstract art paintings do not always involve recognizable subjects. Instead, colors, forms, lines, curves, mixed media materials, textures, and the vivid imagination of the artist are the subjects and the elements of the works' creativity.
Fairfield Porter wrote in that Nation article, "When the first abstract music was made, there was a release of energy, and people expressed something about sounds in terms of some instrument that was not verbal." While 'release of energy' and 'not verbal' are applied to music, I hear similar phrases from painters working in abstract expressionism.
Other characteristics of this style, also known as action painting, include expressive or intense, gestural and rapid brushstrokes, applied, dripped or thrown onto large canvasses. As with the works of Pollock, the paint might appear to be randomly placed, but is actually planned. The style is also related to surrealism with its emphasis on working from the unconscious mind.
Mira Lisa Schiratis, one of three Laguna Beach artists interviewed here, creates brightly colored, abstract paintings. Working with oils, acrylics, palette knifes and brushes, she strives to connect artistically to the larger world. She recalls the history of abstract art and especially the philosophy of artist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944): "He believed in the social responsibility of artists."
I Become One With The Canvas
Mira Lisa says, "Art is an act of connecting with 'beauty,' that profound and mystical realm which soothes and uplifts, strengthening the true self. The canvas is a place where I become one with life. I experience an authenticity, an indescribable universality and a oneness with all humanity."
She studied art with Francoise Gilot - Picasso's former lover and apprentice - who taught her the elements of abstract expressionism: "She was very elegant and patient. She taught me about the importance of passion in art and the essence of composition and design," Mira Lisa says.
For several years,Mira Lisa has painted abstractly - often incorporating a face (similar to her own face) into the completed works. "I surround each face with expressive figures, influenced by petroglyphs and work with colors inspired by Matisse, Chagall and Gauguin."
These paintings are mystical and iconographic, filled with symbolism and figures, reminiscent of jewels. She explains, "Primitive people created art to connect with the spiritual world. They were in rhythm with nature. Once I started painting seriously, I felt purpose in life, knowing I could make a difference."
Organic Shapes and Geometric Circles
Greg Martin used to do landscapes. But in 2004, he started painting abstractly, often working in the color field painting style - which is associated with abstract expressionism. He incorporates large swaths of color into his paintings, creating expressive works with exploding images and stately geometric shapes, while enjoying the freedom to paint in brighter colors.
Greg's, vividly colored abstract paintings are bold and audacious. But look more closely and these very large pieces have mystical qualities, combining organic shapes with geometric circles, squares and rectangles, in primary colors and earth tones. They are carefully structured and painstakingly painted, employing many layers and a variety of mixed media. They are often inspired by his favorite painter, Mark Rothko - also a color field artist.
Greg experiments with textures and finishes: "One technique involves painting in acrylic on glass, then removing the dried shiny acrylic shell and attaching it to canvas. Another involves the use of grainy compounds mixed with the paint to create textural paintings in which geometric forms pop out."
Emotions, Experiences and Ideas
Karen Feuer-Schwager reveals her emotions, experiences and imaginative ideas through what she calls "neo abstract expressionism." Working on canvas, Plexiglas and Polaroid film, her works are sensual and tactile - qualities she has incorporated over a lifetime of making art.
"My imagery is derived from my dreams and, meditations," Karen says. "Using various materials, I wish to engage the viewer so that they can physically feel the tactile surface of the work without having to touch it."
Often using materials called polymer skins, Karen experiments with a variety of techniques, such as transfer drawings, new supporting surfaces and installation presentations.
Many of her pieces depict her musings on the illusions of the perception of matter. She says, "We perceive our world as composed of, in large part, solid objects. However, these seemingly solid objects are actually comprised of minute unattached moving particles."
Karen adds, "My artwork called 'Mind in Meditation' represents my struggle to focus and quiet the inner chatter using the process of breath meditation."Back to top