Although I was selling some work doing the Dailypaintworks paintings, by the end of 2012, I really felt that if I wanted to grow as an artist, I probably should dip my toe back into doing abstraction. And, I fortunately found out that Franklin and Marshall College's art department was teaching an abstract painting class that I could sit in. The teacher was, Jun Cheng Liu, a wonderful painter, whose normal painting style is, like mine, grounded in realism. In fact, Jun Cheng's normal painting style is trompe l'oeil -- which Wikipedia describes as "realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects
exist in three dimensions". Jun Cheng is of the school of trompe l'oeil painters that work on canvas or panel, as opposed to being a muralist. Jun Cheng doesn't have his own website, but click here, trompe l'oeil, to see AskArt's page on trompe l'oeil painting -- which has some excellent examples of such works.
|Me, Jun Cheng and another painter friend, Jean Scharf|
at an show of mine at Mulberry Studios, Lancaster
I loved the idea that I'd be sitting in on the first abstract painting class taught by a realist. It seemed to me that his efforts to wrap his head around abstraction, so he could teach the course, would help me. I hoped his insights would help me push past my own realism-grounded parameters. I wasn't disappointed. He began the course by having us examine on the computer examples of works by famous abstract painters and then use whatever inspired us as a jumping off point for our work. He talked with us about what he believed made non-representational works compelling to viewers: that they were produced in an effort to communicate something -- a message, and idea, whatever.
|Triptych in Time by Tracy Feldman, acylic on canvas, 14 x 33"|
Although I normally have something I'm wanting to communicate/to explore when I do my representational work, it was hard for me to get inspired at first. Here's an example of my first attempt at integrating what I had observed about abstract art since the last time I dipped my toe into abstraction, and what I was learning in class.
In this piece, I incorporated the written word, and also worked to push beyond my normal two dimensional plane by using string to attach objects within the work. This is a technique that Jasper Johns used repeatedly. The quotes I used were ones that have been important to me as I've worked to free myself from the addiction of compulsive eating. It is a small triptych with a different color scheme for the background of each panel, designed to communicate different time periods. I was too timid with my use of the string (notice it disappears against the background) and I struggled to have the words stand out from the background. When my website is updated, you can go to my A&R (addiction and recovery series) to see how I worked out these issues. To be continued ...