Driven to Abstraction

Gateway 1

Do you live an abstract life?

I have noticed that some people look at abstract paintings with a look of confusion, with an expression of ‘I don’t get it’. Well, honestly, a painting should speak to you; tell its story in a way that not everyone else will hear. The story of the painting has meaning for the viewer who is experiencing the colors, the movement. It may be calling up a   memory, a dream, or life experience. Representational, or realistic, paintings also convey this sort of feeling for the viewer but have a defined image by telling you what it is and what to see. However, I once had a teacher who said that every good painting begins with an abstract.

For me, I love imagery and the imaginal realms. I love when synchronicity bumps up against the mundane in life creating a sense of divine intervention. Being a Jungian junkie in my career as a psychotherapist, I studied the meaning of symbols and images. Carl G. Jung devoted his entire life to understanding the meaning behind symbols. He found the same symbols used again and again in diverse cultures all over the world. As he saw these same images used from many traditions, he discovered that they are a universal language that needs no words to convey what the meaning of them is. He called these universal images ‘archetypes’. He believed that archetypes contain an energetic component that have to ability to heal. This is also why he studied dreams as he knew that dream imagery also contained archetypal meaning and could also lead the psyche to wholeness.

So, like a dream, the symbolism in art can literally feel energetically moving. And like a dream, sometimes an image may even contain an esoteric or mystical component. I like having a question in my art that may invite the viewer in to make meaning of it that belongs to their own story. I am delighted when a viewer says,” I see a face there, or I see a feather here” when I didn’t paint that in but the painting is speaking to the person who is looking at it with their imaginal eyes. I am attracted to the layers used in painting that bring depth to it, leaves an impression, a question, but not an answer.

I recently read an article about abstract principles by Sara and Robert Genn:

“Of all the arts,” said Wassily Kandinsky, “abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for color, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.” In other words, the painting must have the fundamental components of good design. “All painting, no matter what you are painting, is abstract in that it’s got to be organized,” said David Hockney. Balance, vibration, weighting, form and eye control, mastery of colour, areas of visual excitement and areas of paucity, grey to rest the eye and gradations: design elements, when intuitively understood, can create a stand-alone magic. In abstraction, this intuition gets your work into the “best” pile. Feel it, and your judges will, too. And just as we’re required to get right the horse’s proportions, abstraction demands that we describe its truth. ”

This last line caught my attention: “Abstraction demands that we describe its truth”. Using intuition to get there is how we find that truth. Living an abstract life requires more of us. It asks for us to do some digging to find our own truths, to be able to live in the ‘flow’ where synchronicity is a daily event. I love that. I know when I am in that flow, whether it is in my studio, or in daily life it just feels magical.

Let me know how you view art; what you like when you look at it. Send me your thoughts! This painting is one of my abstracts from my Threshold Series. Visit my website to see more of them.

Last month, I wrote about synchronicity. If you missed it, you can go the archives on my blog page.

Until next time, I hope you are ‘driven to abstraction’!

What’s New:

I have 7 paintings at the new wine bar in Folsom called “It’s Personal”. All of them have a ‘Tuscany vibe’ and are for sale. I love this wine bar; you can order your own label for a special celebration or gift. I will be putting the painting on a label as a thank you to each person who buys a painting. It is located at 609 Sutter St. Live music on the weekends! I especially liked their blend called Pandemonium.

Save the Dates:

I will be hosting Ruth Armitage for a 3 day workshop in Rocklin, CA on Jan 23 -25, called the ABC’s of Abstraction. This workshop will be an in-depth exploration with water media. Whether you are a veteran painter, lover of realism, or new to the world of abstract, you won’t want to miss this dynamic workshop. Ruth, who lives in Portland, is a Signature member of the NSW, a juror for shows and works in both water color and acrylic. She has her work in galleries all over the U.S. See her work here: Email me for a flyer or go to my website to place a deposit to hold your spot!

I will also be teaching 2 classes beginning in 2015: an introductory series to held at Dawn’s Hallmark store in Auburn on Tuesday begins Jan 6th, and an intermediate bi- monthly class at my home studio that begins, Friday,  Feb 6th.  Let me know if you would like details and I will send you a flyer. Both class series is $120/per 4 classes. Drop in rate: $35. each class is 2 1/2 hours long. See student work on my website:



12 thoughts on “Driven to Abstraction”

  1. Hi Connie….. I’d like info on both of your upcoming classes…. January Dawn’s and the one at your studio in February. How exciting!

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