Thursday, May 27, 2010

Abstraction and Drawing

I am posting these drawings by a famous artist. Any guesses as to who did these drawings? I'll give you a clue. These portraits were done in the 1940's and this artist was a pioneer in Abstract Expressionism.

For me, it's important to recognize that if an artist chooses to draw or paint abstractly, it does not mean that they do not possess the technical skill to render objects in a representational manner. Being able to draw realistically, is only one form of expression in creating images that an artist can choose from.

Although, I have heard it expressed that abstract works looks easier to do than realistic work, in such comments as "my two year old can do that!". I can assure you that this is not the case. I would even go so far as to say, that good abstract work is harder to create than representational work. I would go further and say that being able to create abstract work is informed by being able to create representational work. The ability to render in a representational manner is a prerequisite for being able to work abstractly. There is more that goes into abstraction than a lack of representation. It takes guts, courage and the willingness to explore to create abstract work. How many artists are willing to truly explore abstraction when the when the general public insists on representation?

Clearly, this artist knows how to draw. I have studied many paintings by this artist and have never been aware of his ability to render in pencil, realistic portraits such as these.

I must say, that once I learned how to create realistic drawings, it became tedious to continue to do so for the sake of representation. Yet, I feel as if I must show that I can draw to be considered a "real" artist. It's hard work to achieve an exact replica of an image for the sake of creating an exact replica of an image. Although from time to time, I do enjoy a good render... exploring value and form and creating a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface, that's good FUN! But, if you want a realistic image for the sake of a realistic image, the camera is a fine tool for that and is quicker, too. Open up Photoshop or any image-editing software you can turn a photograph into a lovely "pencil drawing" ( roll eyes here).

Creating images goes beyond technical skill. Don't get me wrong, technical skill is a prerequisite to good work particularly for abstract work. But it is not the goal for me as an artist. Something else drives me to create images and it's not rendering for the sake of rendering.

Have you guessed who this artist is? Ok, spelled backwards: GNINNOOK ED MELLIW