Appreciating Abstract Art Paintings

Appreciating Abstract Art Paintings
I am not an artist, art history major, nor was I raised around art and been an art buff all my life. But, I have been learning a lot more about art lately, and my ability to appreciate abstract art paintings has increased over the past few months. As many lay people who do not know much about art, I would look at a Jackson Pollock piece and say, “my kid could paint that!”. But in my heart I knew that was not true, and silently I liked and admired his work.

Representational paintings are much easier for the every day person to understand. You look at the painting, you see what it is, and the form acts as a beginning to understand and interpret the piece. But, with abstract art paintings, there is no recognizable form to influence your conscious opinion. Abstract art works at a deeper level, with the intention to evoke unconscious feelings and emotions. As the observer, your purpose should be to open yourself up and allow the painting to evoke these feelings and emotions.

This is not the easiest thing to do. But when you first look at abstract art paintings, you feel something. Once you allow yourself to get past the “I can do that” reaction, you will discover that your first real emotion evolves around whether you like or dislike the piece. To the newbie art observer, the next inclination may be to move on, but don’t! Abstract art paintings are not the type of thing that you look at for a few seconds, and then move onto the next, you have to be willing to invest two things to gain a greater appreciation of abstract art: time and yourself. You must take time to really look at the painting, and you must open up, clear your mind, and allow the painting to evoke an emotion.

When you first see the painting, it is most likely from a distance. Don’t go any closer! Stop there and take a moment to look a the painting, how does it make you feel? If you cannot put this into words, that is o.k. After a few minutes, move a little closer. Take time to view the painting from different distances and angles. It is not unusual to have different impressions and feelings from an abstract painting when you view it from various perspectives.

One thing that really helped me to have a greater appreciation of abstract art paintings was meeting the Abstract Expressionist artist, Lea Kelley, at the Fairhaven Originals Gallery, and discussing some of her art. When I had viewed them alone the day before, they did not have much meaning to me, but when I met with Lea, I was able to view them with a keener eye and greater understanding. One thing that truly makes abstract art great, and more than something your child slaps down, is the emotional commitment an artist invests in each piece. Pieces of Lea’s work that I didn’t particularly care for on my own, I had great admiration for, and quite liked, after we looked at them together.

You may think, of course it is easier to like and understand an abstract painting if you can talk to the artist! But not many people have that opportunity. This is true. But even learning a little bit about an artist can give you a greater appreciation for their art. And in many ways, discussing a particular piece of art with the artist removes the purpose of the painting because it allows for you to form preconceived notions, instead of allowing the painting to work on your subconscious level purely uninformed. But after discussing two of her pieces, I could move on alone, and form my own opinions of other works by opening myself up so that they painting could work its magic at a subconscious level.

So the next time you have an opportunity to view some abstract art paintings, take your time, look at the pieces from different angles, and allow the piece to evoke your unconscious feelings. Try this a few times, and hopefully you too will learn to have a greater appreciation for this modern form of art.

To see some great examples of abstract art paintings, visit Fairhaven Originals Gallery (FOG) online.

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