Some Rambling Thoughts About Abstract Art

2016 Artwork Thoughts about abstract art article sketch

For quite a while, I’ve been at least slightly cynical about abstract art. Yes, I still considered it to be a much better artform than conceptual art, but I’ve always been more of a figurative art kind of person.

However, during one of the many times where I get obsessed with old things, I found myself fascinated by 1980s/1990s-style geometric patterns. These are relatively minimalist patterns that often use bold contrasts (eg: bright shapes against a dark background) and simple geometric shapes. As anyone who knows me will probably know, I absolutely love art that contains bold contrasts.

Anyway, here’s an example of the kind of pattern that I’m talking about (that I made fairly quickly to illustrate what I’m talking about):

This is an example of a 1980s/ 1990s (well, more 1990s than 1980s) pattern that I made using MS Paint and a late 1990s version of Paint Shop Pro.

This is an example of a 1980s/ 1990s (well, more 1990s than 1980s) pattern that I made using MS Paint and a late 1990s version of Paint Shop Pro.

As well as being wonderfully retro, these patterns also look timelessly modern at the same time. When you see one of these patterns, you instantly think of the 1980s and 1990s. From a technical standpoint, they’re really interesting too – since they rely on having a very good knowledge of colour theory (because all of the colours in the pattern have to either go well with each other, or clash in a suitably interesting way).

This also made me think that, perhaps, I’d got it wrong about abstract art. Yes, I still think that some famous pieces of abstract art (eg: some Rothko paintings and perhaps even some of Jackson Pollock’s more splattery paintings), whilst they look cool, are still far too technically simplistic to merit the level of critical attention and financial value that they’ve attracted (although when compared to many famous works of conceptual arts, these paintings more than earn their value), but I think that I understand abstract art a little bit more.

To me at least, abstract art seems to be more about the atmosphere and emotional tone of the picture than about realism or anything like that. Like how a 1980s/90s-style pattern will instantly make you think of those decades, I guess that abstract art is more about the mood that it provokes in the audience than anything else. It’s about the general look of the painting as a whole, rather than any specific details.

Not only that, even vaguely ok abstract art is also a lot more difficult to make than I’d expected.

When I was feeling uninspired a while back, I thought “I’ll make an abstract piece, this will be easy“. It wasn’t. Not only did I have to come up with a pattern design that looked distinctive (and didn’t blatantly rip off any of the 1980s/90s patterns that I’d seen), but the sheer amount of repetition, planning and digital editing/effects involved in making this picture was a lot more than I expected.

In the end, I kind of cheated and made a painting featuring several geometric 3D shapes floating above a checkerboard “floor”. But, at a glance, it almost looks like an abstract painting.

"Wherever The Ice Should Fall" By C. A. Brown

“Wherever The Ice Should Fall” By C. A. Brown

So, yes, I guess that I probably underestimated abstract art slightly.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂


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