I admit it!! I am a total art addict!! Not only do I love the experience of painting I also love studying the work of other artists and spend most of my day either immersed in the practice itself or looking at the work of others. The genre of abstract art has always facsinated me and has become one of my greatest loves but also one of my biggest challenges to paint with a satisfactory outcome. But when that final paint stroke or mark is made it can be the most delicious feeling as I stand back and look at the balance and harmony I have created between colour, form and emotion.
I discovered the painting ‘The Talisman’ by Paul Serusier back in 2002. It was painted in 1888 under the guidance of Paul Gauguin and totally captured me. We don’t think of abstract art as being so old, but this painting became an iconic painting for a group of young painters who called themselves The Nabis and it inspired me in the same way as it did them. I couldn’t wait to copy it.
Gauguin instructed Serusier to paint what he saw straight from the tube whether it be a colour or a shape. It was painted on wood, a small cigar box in fact, with oil paints and is the only painting Serusier is really credited for as he was better known for his writing. However this painting spring-boarded the Nabis into action. I painted mine in the same way although on a much larger canvas, looking at my garden as I did so. It was a great lesson in abstraction and from then my love affair with the genre began.
As I continued to study the abstract artists, painters like Rothko and Pollock mesmerized me, Kandinsky and Miro excited me, Mondrian baffled me and de Kooning made me shudder. So many emotions would be stirred in me with each particular style. O’Keefe has brought me to tears with her beauty and sensitivity. Hodgkin being one of my absolute all time favourites with the deep simplicity of his brush strokes makes me cheer. Oh! there are so many – too many to mention, in fact.
I then began a quest to ‘chase art’ making it a continual pursuit to find out where these famous paintings where hung, go and see them no matter where they are in the world and to sit with them, allowing myself to dissolve into them to see how they made me feel. It was a great basis for my understanding of what makes a great abstract painting.
Abstract art is hugely based on feelings and emotions, not only that of the artist but also of the viewer and is very personal experience for both. So when I paint in an abstract way you get all of me in a painting, literally blood, sweat and tears combined with joy and love. As the layers start to develop, the back stories, text and poetry are covered by more colour and texture until I finally add that last brush stroke and I know my work is done.
When I accept a commission for an abstract painting there is also an element of the commissioner within the piece as we work together with preferred colour palettes and personal stories on the under layers and then I continue alone as I am immersed in the process through to completion.
So when you next see an abstract painting, spend a minimum of 15 minutes with it and lose yourself in the whole experience, see how you feel and what you see within the painting and within yourself.
I regularly paint abstract commissions to a particular size or colour palette and my work that is currently available can be seen at www.steffisartwork.com