Definition and Meaning
The term 'abstract art' - also called "non-objective art", "non-figurative", "non-representational", "geometric abstraction", or "concrete art" - is a rather vague umbrella term for any painting or sculpture which does not portray recognizable objects or scenes. However, as we shall see, there is no clear consensus on the definition, types or aesthetic significance of abstract art. Picasso thought that there was no such thing, while some critics take the view that all art is abstract - because, for instance, no painting can hope to be more than a crude summary (abstraction) of what the painter sees. Even mainstream commentators sometimes disagree over whether a canvas should be labelled "expressionist" or "abstract" - take for example the watercolour Ship on Fire (1830, Tate), and the oil painting Snow Storm - Steam Boat off a Harbour's Mouth (1842, Tate), both by JMW Turner (1775-1851). A similar example is Water-Lilies (1916-20, National Gallery, London) by Claude Monet (1840-1926). Also, there is a sliding scale of abstraction: from semi-abstract to wholly abstract. So even though the theory is relatively clear - abstract art is detached from reality - the practical task of separating abstract from non-abstract can be much more problematical.
Semi abstract art
Semi abstract art is a style of painting that emphasizes the creative process of painting with the intent of producing an unusual, thought provoking work of art. The subject matter remains recognizable but representational accuracy is not a goal - semi abstract art is not intended to provide a mirror image of conventional reality. The painting is composed of fragmented images that are either simplified, exaggerated, or distorted in a highly stylized manner that is reflective of the artist’s imagination and personal artistic vision. Painting in this style allows a high degree of creativity and freedom of expression.
Creative drawing techniques
Guest Author - Elsa Neal
Drawing is often relegated to the planning and sketching phase of a painting, where its charms are covered up with another artform. But it can be very rewarding in its own right.
There are a number of drawing techniques you can practice to improve your skills, but if you remember your school art classes, some of these can be a little boring. The creative part of practicing is engaging your imagination and making it fun for yourself.
Hatching and cross-hatching
The precise shading that hatching techniques produce are often used in pen/ink drawings like political cartoons and strip comics.
Hatching is the drawing of many parallel lines close together, while cross-hatching is overlaying one set of parallel hatching with a set in the opposite direction.
Choose a subject with plenty of shadow and practice these techniques by drawing only the dark areas using hatching lines of various distances about for light to medium shadows, and cross hatching for the very dark areas. Try to avoid drawing an outline so that you have to rely on translating the shadows that you see into a two-dimensional reproduction.
Pencil shading is more commonly used than hatching because far more tones can be produced by varying the softness and pressure of the pencil and the number of layers of shading. It is less precise than hatching and can be modified and manipulated more easily, and errors are easier to hide or erase. Practice shading by choosing a subject with plenty of curves, and light it strongly from one side.
Another useful perspective to practice is viewing and capturing a subject purely in terms of the background space around it.
Choose a subject such as a piece of furniture and place it against a contrasting wall. Block in the shapes of the wall where the items is “not”.
Different angles and perspectives
We can get too set in drawing a subject from the same angle. For example, choosing a cup to practice an elliptical shape and curved shading. How about turning the cup on its side or upside down?
Drawing is an amazing positive life changing activity, and best of all, everyone can learn to draw. If you have average eyesight, eye-hand coordination, and your handwriting is readable, you have all the skills you need to draw well. The rest is motivation.
But let's come back to the "amazing part" for a moment, what is amazing about drawing? Drawing will change your life, because as you start drawing you will perceive your surrounds in a different way, it truly opens your eyes. You will notice positive and negative space, forms, shapes and tonalities in light and dark which you have been not aware of before.
Creativity is such a vital part of life, starting to draw will give you an easy way to express your creativity. In an instant, drawing and creativity can become a meditative state, a state where you are relaxed and your whole system can regenerate. To draw creatively shifts you naturally into an Alpha state of mind.
It gets even better, with most other activities, which show such profound results, you would have to pay a bundle. Starting to draw, in contrast, ( no pun intended), is very cheap, my guess is, everyone can afford to buy some pencils, eraser and some paper.
Like everything in life, if you haven't done something before, you may think you can't do it. This is actually one of the most common reasons why people don't start drawing. Just be assured, if you have managed to learn to write complex letters, you will be able to learn to draw.
Allow yourself to learn, give it some time, and recognize that drawing starts with learning some techniques and how to use your tools (pencils). The rest will follow naturally, and creativity will take over and expand your skills further.
What you will need:
Pencils: while tools and technologies are constantly evolving, the simple pencil has retained its basic design since its inception. However, there are many varieties, for the moment get a 2B and 8B. Pencils may still be called lead pencils, but they are not made form lead, they are made from graphite and clay, the more graphite, the blacker the lead and the softer the pencil.
Paper: You can draw on anything from ordinary copy paper to a multiplicity of sketchbooks, or a variety of individual textured paper sheets from your art shop.
Rubbers: Ordinary and kneaded rubbers are used for various techniques
Here are some more reasons for the importance of drawing, esp. if you envisage becoming an artist.
Drawing is vital to the creation of your future artworks. Drawing is used to develop ideas, regardless of subject matter. To develop sketches, represent tonal areas, lights and shades, plan compositions, record information from on-site sketches as well as create finished artworks.
The traditional theories of art evolve from observation and drawing.
Learning to draw involves learning to see. Being able to see shapes, proportion, tone and line within and around a subject, together with an understanding of basic perspective will form the basis of a good work of art. This basic knowledge learned from continual practice, will enable you to translate what you see into a visual image on paper.
At the end, what it all means, drawing is an amazing form of creativity free for everyone to use, and if you embrace it, it probably will keep you interested forever and will open doors towards the world of art you would never have expected.