abstract thinking

In Progress - a photo of the beginnings of a new painting - and my desk
We've got things mixed up.  So-called abstract art is more literal than so-called realism.  Taken further, realism is more abstract than what we've been calling abstract art.  Confusing?  Let's take a look at the definition of abstraction: expressing a quality apart from an object.

If you consider that a painting is merely bits of pigment arranged on a rectangular surface - held in place by some kind of binder - then so-called-abstract art is the real deal.  When you look at it, you are inevitably drawn to the stuff of paint - its very essence.  Paint and painting become one very raw, real and passionate thing.

If you consider the same definition of a painting - abstraction begins when one attempts to arrange the pigment in such a way to sway the viewer into thinking beyond the bits of pigment bound on a substrate.  The so-called realistic painter works with great care to place those microscopic pieces of color in very particular places.  She's working with a purpose in mind - to take the viewer's thoughts as far as possible from the paint and to fix them on a memory, a vision, a feeling - ideally all three. 

Transcending the physical - going from tiny grains of pigment to an experience - hopefully a profound one - is the essence of abstraction. 

In the end, it's best to love them both - whatever they're labeled.  The stuff we can seemingly touch with our hands - and the stuff that touches our hearts.

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