Saturday, November 16, 2013


Lately, I have been thinking about my work in abstract as compared to my more representative work in plein air.  What draws me to each of them and what am I learning from each one?

"Coastal Route" and "Birch Memories"  Lori LaBerge  2013

Abstract, usually of the geometric variety, has always attracted me.  I tend to see abstract as:
          -- emphasizing color, line and shape
          -- creating from the mind, with ideas not visually seen in the real world
          -- veering more toward design, pattern and geometry than plein air work
          -- being less comfortable for the viewer, requiring more thought to understand
          -- tending to be distorted, simplified or exaggerated
          -- relaxing the need to have things proportional or in correct perspective

"Speed Bumps" and "Fall's Beginning"  Lori LaBerge  2013

Plein air or representative landscape work I see more as:
          -- emphasizing light , shadow, and depth
          -- allowing for sense of place or "wanting to be there"
          -- lending itself to a recognizeable subject, more comfortable for viewer
          -- being based on what the eye actually sees
          -- lending itself to more accurate colors
          -- tending to have accurate perspective and proportion
          -- creating an illusion of reality

"Night Ride" and "Blue Ridge Shed"  Lori LaBerge  2013

In general, if asked, I would say abstract is the more creative of the two, while representational is the more technical, though both creativity and technical ability are required for each style.  This is where I find why I enjoy working with both.  I love creating pieces in my mind and looking at things a different way for abstract and learning more about drawing and other core art skills with representational plein air.

Abstract grew with the creation of the camera.  If a camera could capture reality, why paint it?  Abstract artists sought to capture that which the camera could not.  Plein air does not have to be representative as more artists are exploring abstract aspects of this type of work and redefining their art.

"Time to Go"  and "Autumn's Start"  Lori LaBerge  2013

There are many exercises I have experienced that can help an artist grow and learn. Here are just a few:

          -- from my college studio art class -- breakdown a representative painting or photo into squares and notice the abstract concepts of each individual square, which when all squares are placed together form the whole picture.
          -- from a graphic arts class -- play with letters to form various patterns.  Example: Place multiple "A's" upside down, on their side, written as large and small.  Fill a square or other shape with them.  Work with both symmetry and asymmetry.
          -- from self-study -- create a self-portrait, either abstract or representative from a list of five words you would use to describe yourself.
          -- from self-study -- choose a descriptive sentence from a book and create a work from it.  I love old gothic novels and the atmospheric descriptions would lend themselves nicely to this activity.  Song titles or lyrics also work as inspiration.

Enjoy various styles of art, explore your favorites and have a great day.

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