Abstract art is often misunderstood. Some people feel that art should be realistic paintings of beautiful landscapes or pensive portraits, like a story on canvas, not a bunch of lines, shapes, and colors. But if Realism is like a story, then Abstract art is like poetry - each line, shape, color, and texture carefully placed to express raw human emotions and complex concepts. The great thing about abstract art is that you don’t have to be able to draw or paint photorealistic pictures to create your own, just a canvas, some paint and a great deal of inspiration.
Abstract art allows for a lot of freedom of expression, because it doesn’t look like anything, it’s not really supposed to. In fact, abstract art can be anything you want it to be, from deeply spiritual to blatantly superficial, there is no ‘right’ way. This free association is what makes it such a great art movement. The art, especially creating it, is an experience. It’s not like looking at a painting of a tree, where you can see that the artist meant to paint, well, a tree. You know what it is, it’s a tree. A work of abstract art, however, affects each of us in a different way. It stimulates your creativity on a number of levels. Look closely at the works of some of the greats like Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Jasper Johns and Paul Klee and you’ll start to feel the emotion in the paintings. Stand in front of a 10ft tall Rothko painting, look at the textures and the carefully placed brush strokes, and suddenly it becomes more than just a canvas with a big colorful block on it. This is one of the reasons why art galleries and museums are often very quiet, to give visitors a chance to take in the art and experience it.
Abstract art is like music, especially instrumental music like classical music and jazz, where many different, often seemingly unrelated notes come together to form a harmonious whole. Different shapes, lines, textures, color and composition come together to create a piece which is like visual music to those who view it.
Art is something to be experienced, whether it’s music, painting (especially abstract art), dance or even poetry, it taps into our emotions and sparks creativity, it scratches that part of your brain that plays in an alternative reality, and allows us to see things from a different perspective. It is because of this that most artists are inspired by other artists — one artist’s expression is another’s inspiration.
No, go grab a canvas, a piece of paper, some paint, pens or whatever you can get your hands on and let your creativity run wild. But is it art? How is it not art?!