3.1 Intro to chapter III.
The world of abstract thought is as varied as the diversity of life on Earth. Abstraction is limitless. There cannot be, indeed there must not be, definitions and rules to the creation of an abstract work of art, and yet there must be defining points of accomplishment in the work of an abstract artist’s career. All artists, regardless of their chosen medium, require a disciplined study of the elements involved within their chosen form of artistic communication.
Purely as an artist, the abstract oil painter must become familiar with the different mediums and methods of creating works of art during his study toward abstract oil painting. The abstract oil painter should be required to study pictorial representation, all of the mediums related to oil painting, and the iconic fundamentals of modern art; those being the still life, the landscape, the figurative, improvisation, the discipline of composition, and color-form theory to allow for the natural development of an artists individual voice within abstract painting. After pictorial representation has been throughly studied, the oil painter can then investigate his personal ideas of abstraction one subject at a time. As an artist the oil painter must know his subject matter intimately to have the insight in order to abstract it. He must first know abstraction and his reason for it. Albeit, the abstract oil painter intuitively knows his own methodology, and with that knowledge and capability of possibility, the abstract oil painter does not reject dogma but embraces its devices and makes them his own. With that sense of ownership, the abstract oil painter takes responsibility for his study and the future direction of contemporary abstract art itself.
Western societies recent focus on the cultural marketability of individualism has fostered a generation of abstract artists that identify with nothing more than the vanity of style, the popularity of image, and immediate expression. Anyone can express themselves using the term “abstraction” with the hasty ease of its common pictorial results and fabled simplicity of its technical grasp. Many artists use abstraction as a classification of aesthetic choice, leading themselves to an established “Ism” to solidify their intent without understanding that creating works of art is more than a look or definition. (These artists are not artists but charlatans, playing a part in a game of identity that they eventually lose.) Ism. Regrettable artists who mimic the pioneers of abstraction through a pictorial choice of ism that represents their short-term identity, poison themselves and the art world unknowingly. Without an understanding or consideration of the general language of abstraction, the emotional fever of the consumer artist, hobbyist, and soul seeker skip the ideas of a disciplined study, and without purpose speechlessly imitate the masters.
Although abstract art does not have a defined alphabet, it does call for an understanding of its pictorial fundamentals, those being the whole of the language of composition. Abstraction grants a sense of liberty that is unavailable to any other form of aesthetic, simply because it is visually accessible, without rules of appearance or expectation, and seemingly easy to invent a theory of intent to sweet-talk past the ability of talent. Truth is arduous to obtain in abstraction, and it is a discipline built on the traditional rules of technique more difficult to resolve than any of the arts, because these traditions are conceptual thoughts physically applied in practical application. The fundamentals of abstract oil painting are philosophical. Those traditions, while being on stable ground, are evolving, changing, and growing as the technology of the materials and tools an artist uses to oil paint do the same. With the consumer in control of today’s art market we find those traditions abandoned and forgotten. It is not unfitting for the artist to reject tradition, if at first these ideas in question are inspected throughly and exposed for their flaws, and not simply rejected because of their status as defined traditions. To do so is to rebel and eventually self destructive. Simply put, any yahoo with a paintbrush can call himself an abstract oil painter as a result of the confinements and unstable anarchy of the postmodern pop-cultural subjectivity as the cause. Innovation first comes from discipline and exploration under the influence of control and not accidents of stylistically pleasing moments.
The work of the undisciplined abstract oil painter is simply the work of self-discovery. In saying this, I am not belittling the immature abstract oil painter, nor am I using the word “immature” derogatorily. I am simply disclosing that the young artist has not developed his mind and medium, but works off the immediacy of appearance. I did, until I was taught a better way. The artist I am speaking of works off emotion and is setting free the needs that a juvenile or a maniac subconsciously desires for a cathartic release and possible moment of self-discovery. Confusion and intangible communication are not hidden genius. There is more to the abstract oil painter than inner need. Albeit, it is inner need that drives the truly ambitious oil painter toward mastering that, which satisfies his being.
Since ideas are the nature of abstraction, abstract works of art consist of subjective moments, independent of representation other than cultural and generational metaphorical associations. Abstract works of art cannot be defined, in that there are no rules or set standards to creating an abstract work of art. Therefore there must be a set of credentials that can define abstract oil painting as a disciplined art form. Intuitively the oil painter understands that which he wishes to express but needs the proper vocabulary to do so. A disciplined study of the fine arts traditional fundamentals will grant the oil painter his dictionary. The oil painter will possibly begin to abstract his subject matter when he has mastered its actual representation. The truly ambitious and devoted (stoic) oil painter will see the need for understanding the representational forms of the world around him pictorially, by the means of a careful examination of his world as a prerequisite to abstraction. Naturally, the oil painter becomes aware of the world and his position in it during his study, and as expected the oil painter progresses toward his own language and ideas on composition, color, intention, methodology and philosophy, toward creating works of art.
The following chapter is simply an explanation of the path that I followed to become who I am. It was both passed on to me, and initiated by me. They are not rules for each artist to pursue, but guidelines from my experiences where I discovered them one event at a time. They are the discipline that I created for myself. The aesthetic and compositional choices in each work of art the oil painter creates reflect his identity and reveal his mastery over his medium.
Every work of art has its importance, even the industrial agesi mass produced posters can teach. That is not to say that all works of art are equal. Each of the arts also has its limits. The discipline of oil painting has no equal in its variety of representation, simply because it has less limitation than the other forms of art. Nevertheless, do not be fooled by undefined intolerance. All art is important and relevant to its creator.
Oil paintings are not meant to be viewed in a museum where we teach and collect mans’ intellectual history. Works of art are intended to be looked at, and to communicate. Art that has to be in a gallery to be art, is not art.