Friday, June 07, 2013

Abstract Realism

Vajra Visions #4 
Watercolor on Lanaquarelle,  21" x 21" © Kristine Fretheim

This is the last painting in my series based on the Japanese gardens in St. Louis, MO. It's reeds and lily pads frozen in the melting ice of a pond. While the composition is abstract, the images themselves are rendered fairly realistically. I call it abstract realism. Abstraction generally means painting without a recognizable object. Some of us, however, see everything as abstract. Everything. We no longer see things. Instead we see patterns, shapes, lines, values and colors. So I was excited to find these naturally occurring abstract compositions in the pond in St. Louis. I love the weaving tangle of energy.

Another feature of abstraction is it's dependence on design. Since there are usually no objects portrayed, abstract painting is considered to be pure design. Both abstract and representational painting benefit from a thorough understanding of design. Principles and elements of design energize the compositions of any genre of painting, realistic or abstract. Look closely and you see that abstract forms exist as various design elements within recognizable objects and their surrounding compositions. A reed is a reed. This seems to be true because most of us don't look long enough to see the illusory nature of the reed, the lily or the shadow. Everything is abstract. Really.


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