Monday, October 3, 2011

" I don't get it..." Abstract vs Representational Art.

Glad everyone is digging the mixed media stuff, there's tons more out there, and I'll throw up more in the future, but there's an insightful post by Chris in the comments i wanted to get to first:

I don't wanna open the can of worms on Abstract/Post-Modern vs. Traditional Art debate, which I find really tedious at best. But Chris, I agree and totally get what your saying about abstract art. 

Another way to look at it is with music, I used to listen to  Zappa,  Stockhausen, Laurie Anderson, Bjork, John Cage, Captain BeefheartMr. Bungle, Eric Dolphy, the 'Raleigh Soliloquy' from Sublime, these and tons of other artists mix up melodic music.. with just plain weird-ass crap. Often in the same song. The fans who liked this may like the weird parts just because it sounds cool, others feel it's pretentious or indulgent to have 'weird for weirdo's' dissonant music s.. and i can see that too. Both are valid. Captian Beefheart,

I discovered what called 'abstract-modern-surreal' art books in my local library as a teens.  No one told me to like it or what it meant. Same time I was checking out the musicians above, their sounds and visual totally blew my mind. Yeah, sometimes bored me too, or seemed indulgent… or just.. went no where, or seemed "didactic", meaning message or idea  focused.. or as you say Chris, seems to lack feeling or emotional context. 

I'm glad your digging my stuff, and no one should sweat or worry if something i do, (either in comics or abstract art)… leaves them cold, or scratching their head asking "huh?" That's valid and does happen when one experiments in 'weird' areas. It's expected... and welcomed - - some of it hits for some folks, and some just misses. 

It's also why I wanna work abstract pairings into Dana stories, have Dana comment on it, because then the art is placed has some sorta context, it doesn't  risk of an abstract coming off as just a cold remote work.. like the example above with no text at all..

I got my share of puzzled looks for tons of abstract Maxx panels and Wolvie Marvel Comics covers too. But Like Frank said, I too no longer dismiss, but kinda *enjoy* my old detailed stuff like… Epicures, Wolverine, 'detail for detail's sake'... 

...if i didn't dig that 'classic' noodley stuff, (heck… I wouldn't have done it in the *first* place.) 

So, yeah.. I'm flattered if anything I do strikes an emotional (or cerebral) chord. 

Just like now-a-days I am pleased to do stuff i couldn't dream of doing back then... like this portrait: 

In fact, this is one of the FIRST portrait I took a stab at.

I wasn't going for realism, (not that i'm skilled enough to pull that off anyhoo), but I wanted to capture a certain mood/feeling of her face, rather than technical accuracy?

I started off making my usual self-critial doodles...

I'm always trying to escape chasing down some spark of life in simple little gesture pencil, marker rough i do. I really prefer the little face on the lower left, it seems less labored than the bigger one on the upper right.

The sketches above are same 'bowl cheeks' and ' pouty lips' I always do... somehow these cliche's followed their way right from the sketch into the finished painting. plus the ever drifting eyes...

Looking back, I sorta wish I'd kept the finished painting loser... like these sketches are..

I always have mixed feelings about my women's faces. I wanna capture the imperfections, but there's just a limit to how much illustrative skill i posses, plus, even as a teenager i was struck by abstract, post-modern and conceptual art I'd read about.

One of my favs, Paul Klee, also Willem de Kooning, and Joan Miro, were all artists I developed a love for totally... outside of any art school education. Not slamming that. Just found them from books I'd dig up at libraries.  Most of these dudes were trying to break free of constraints of a previous school of art. 

Drawing 'weird'... was something I personally didn't have the chance to explore in my art until the Maxx, when I had a chance to cut free and fumble towards the trail blazed by Sienkiewicz. Electra and Stray Toaster were the first direct bridge to these other artists above. 

It does my heart good to know, before most modern artists who were canonized and swallowed up by academia and collectors...  In their life own times, most they were like us. Dumb schmuck living in a studio and minds.. trying to paint themselves out of their problems... forging some sorta new paths. 

Even Schiele was both inspired by, (and emerged from the shadow of) Klimt's glamorized portraits of women's portraits. Sienkiewicz was inspired-emerged from Neil Adams and Barron Storey.

Then, I inspired/emerged... from my Dad. See, my Dad was an artists too.  I grew up watching him paint realistic portraits. But he also tried his hand at abstract paintings.

So for me, it's kinda a personal linage.

I lucked out, discovered the sub-culture of comics allowed me to dabble in slightly abstract styles, and later do art books.

Here's getting back to simple vs. detailed... here's that drifting eye on the upper left side in the finished piece, come on... doesn't the first tiny little marker sketch one just seem to ' breath '? It's apples and oranges, i know. But i STILL say the one one the left has it's merits.

I'm telling you... 'simple drawings' really call to me. 

But then why do I waste my time doing this big-ass elaborate paintings then?

I dunno. 

I just like to swim through a variety of styles and periods, good bad, intricate, crude. I hear some artists bitch "'s all been done so what's the point?" True. But since it's all been done, the pressure's off your shoulders isn't it? Like Sondheim says in Sunday in the park with George, "..let it come from you, then it will be new."  May sounds trite, but it rings true for me.

Maybe it's like my dad. Both sides are inside of me... normal and abstract... even when they don't always see eye to eye with each other. 

So there you are.


cody said...

so when are you going to do an art show.

Chris said...

I was not expecting a post so soon, nor a reply to my comment of this magnitude when I came home from college. I'm not sure what to really say except thank you, and that this post has really made my day. Thank you for this amazing post, and I cannot wait for more updates.

Frank Patriot said...

i retract my comment on the last post, saying it was my favorite so far. This one is my favorite. Sam, how much of your average work day do you spend working on comic projects (like Batman) vs time spent doing sketches/painting and stuff for your own enjoyment? Just curious.

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