Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Using glass as an Abstract Expressionist medium

I've been getting my Art on reading about abstract expressionism. I'm not sure how I feel about today's multi-million pound Damien Hirst - esque "art" ... I could get myself tied up in knots trying to explain myself and end up contradicting myself and going around in circles. Also, I really hate the term "artist". I refer to myself as a glassmaker/craftsperson. Artist just sounds... merh. Overused? Pretentious?

BUT I do know that, after visiting the Tate Modern in London (after I finished my craft degree, would you believe), my favourite section was the "Surrealism and Dream" section. I was really interested in the messages that the pieces were communicating, the images the Artist was showing us from dreams, memories or surreal past experiences.

So after the confusing headspins I was having trying to explain my opinion on Art and "Art", I got my paws on the book "Isms". This really helped me define my feeling on some areas of Art. and then I found my favourite pages...

I find Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism (AE) fascinating. You get an insight into the artist's mind. You see a visual translation of what they see. Surrealism pieces embody the internal images that the artist experiences. The artist mirrors what he sees, onto canvas. As a dabbler in painting, I have trouble visualising such detail and extravagance in my own experiments. It usually boils down to a rough form of AE, with some figurative flecks in there as well. Surrealism is certainly something I would like to practice. When I view Surrealist pieces,if there is an explanation, I always read that first. Before I view the image in detail, I want to experience the visual with the concept in mind. However, some of the pieces I have been viewing recently (on a facebook page that features Surrealist art spanning decades, up to the most recent art of today), they do not have explanations. As an observer, I am left to my own devices. I try to experience the piece myself, imagine myself inside the image, as a character. I use the colours, the mood, the subtle aspects that create a feeling or atmosphere. Since researching more recent surrealist art, I have found myself really absorbing the image, feeling quite moved by some of the pieces. I feel a sense of comfort in some ways, that that particular artist that painted that particular painting, could have experienced the particular emotion that I felt when I observed said painting. That someone else has experienced those things.

Abstract Experssionist art, in the same way as surrealist art does, shares emotions, feelings, actions, through raw pen to paper. Paint to canvas. Clay to table. Colours are my favourite element to experiment with. For others, Reds and Oranges may convey anger. For me, they symbolise activity, well-ness. For others, blues may 'give them the blues'. My blues merge with greens and mean happiness, uplifting thoughts, fresh mindedness. This is where my experimenting is successful- I can visualise my emotions and feelings through colour, and shapes. A strike of black amongst a red-orange sea is disruption. Disease. Other shapes, such as a sharp star, convey pain. Etc.

I really enjoy using water colours. They are slow, patient, and they put up with me piling on colour and water. I find painting theraputic, especially when I am visualising and physicallising (another word?!) experiences and emotions I have had. Having CFS and Anxiety gives me quite a lot of those. I am a visual learner and teacher. It helps me to teach when I can draw something to explain it. Using my rough little paintings, I find it easier to explain to someone outside my head what the elements are, and how they are interacting on the paper.

So AE and Surrealism can be put onto canvas, paper, and sculpted using clay. I fancy a go at making some glass to represent my AE internals. The colours I use in my paintings are easily found in my glass stash. Glass is a fantastic material to work with. Maybe I can make some beads that people can relate to. A necklace with ANXIETY written all over it. You know what I mean. Art is great in the way that only the artist and the interested observer know the concept or meaning. If I make a bead with my coloured codes on it, only I, and the person/people I explain it to will understand it. Any Jack on the street will just think it is some weird jewellery. It's like a secret club. Art club.

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