It’s difficult to understand abstract art: It is an entirely different form of language in itself – so when someone sees an abstract painting for the first time, it’s easy to feel confused or even upset by it.
It purposely breaks all the rules of what we’ve been taught to believe is good art… so why do people like abstract art? Why do people pay so much money at times for these paintings?
Here is my guide as an abstract painter, myself, on how to understand abstract art.
Because – Yes, abstract art is a different language of art – but it is much more universal than what people may deem from the beginning.
The simplest comparison I can make that many people can understand is that abstract art is like music: Specially, like classical music, opera, or foreign music in which you can’t understand the lyrics. You may not be able to know exactly why that piece of music was created or what it means… but you can like it. You may love it. You may feel strongly from it.
Because from absolutely nothing and out of absolutely anything in the world that could have been made, that exact piece was created by the artist.
Many people think it is easy to create abstract art, but until you try it, it’s a lot more difficult than it looks: Starting from an empty canvas and creating an abstract painting solely on your own, not by copying or imitating, but by creating something that is true to you and something you absolutely love. That is quite difficult.
Why Do People Create Abstract Art?
I believe that when it comes to trying to understand abstract art, it is important to see abstract art from the perspective of a creator. There are many different reasons people create abstract art.
Many abstract painters don’t in-fact start off painting abstract art. Many of us start off learning traditional art. We learn the rules of creating a masterpiece – and then at some point in our lives, for our own reasons, we decide that these rules need to be broken. And when this happens, it leads to abstract art.
Artists may create abstract art because:
- There is more freedom because there are no rules to abstract art.
- To create something that cannot be represented by the physical world.
- To express themselves.
- To create something beautiful.
- To do something that hasn’t been done before.
- To evoke certain feelings and thoughts in others
- As a reflection of an emotion, person, place, or experience.
- Creating abstract art is fun.
- To communicate with feeling.
- To create something they love.
My Story: Why I Started Creating Abstract Art
For me, I spent a lot of my early childhood enthralled with drawing. I drew everything and anything all day long. I got into the phase where I drew anime-styled artwork. Then I got into photo-realism. Then digital painting.
However, the older I became and the more skilled I became in drawing, the less in-fact I drew. I couldn’t get satisfaction from art anymore and slowly I began to lose my love for art.
Art became boring to create for me: I had the image of what I wanted to create in my head already and could easily draw it out on paper… And that very process suddenly became meaningless to me.
It was as if I was following rules to achieve an end… And all I had to do was copy what was in my head or what was in reality to make good art.
I wondered if this was where my passion for art ended: Like I had reached the end to art itself. And for a long time, I stopped art because of this.
Then, I stumbled upon a video of little Aelita Andre creating abstract art – and it brought me back to a time when I was a child where art was more simple. It was less about the end and more about creating and expressing myself. Truly.
Since then, the meaning of art changed for me, and I’ve been creating abstract art and have never looked back since.
How to Understand Abstract Art
I believe that the beauty of abstract art is that it cannot be fully understood. Abstract art has the ability to be whatever the viewer wants it to be. Whatever the viewer perhaps needs that work to be.
Be open-minded: Abstract art cannot be judged by the same judgements we use for photo-realism, where we immediately search for how close the work resembles reality. Break out of the box. Go internal. Go outer-worldly. Think big and wide. Or simply feel and stop the thoughts and analyzing. There are no limitations when creating abstract paintings, and likewise, the viewer must let go of their own rules when experiencing abstract art.
Think of abstract art as people: Abstract art, as many other forms of art, is a form of self expression for the artist. Creating abstract art can be a freeing experience, where there is no true right or wrong end result. It is all solely based on the artist’s own wants, and thus, the end piece reflects who the artist is. So the next time you see an abstract painting, think of it as if you were in the presence of another human being. It is a reflection of who they are.
Understanding abstract art is like listening to music: Experiencing abstract art is like listening to classical music, opera, or a song in a different language. You may not know the exact meaning of the song, but you can still love it. It can still move you. And it can still evoke powerful feelings within you. And sometimes the experience of that art form becomes more powerful and more true when it needs less to relay the same thoughts and emotions… or perhaps even more.
Experience Abstract Art In-Person: It’s easy to see a work of art online on a computer monitor and feel underwhelmed. That is why I recommend going in-person and truly seeing the depth of the colors, seeing the textures, the glazes, the size, and the complexity that can never be fully relayed through screens. Art is a whole new experience when we experience it in-person.
Read about the Artist: Learning the backstory of the works can help you understand the meaning behind one painting or a series of works by that artist.
You Aren’t Going to Like Everything: Even the most voracious abstract art lovers are going to have abstract paintings they don’t like. Art is a lot like music in this sense as well. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. Understand, instead, what you do enjoy and try to figure out what about these pieces you love about it.
Everyone Can Do It (Even Children): Everybody can make abstract art – but the abstract art you create will be different from the abstract paintings I create. Our tastes are different. Our choices are different. What we want to say through our art is different. Each painting is unique and that is what makes it so special. Don’t think of the genre of abstract art as something grandeur, complex, or elevated in any way. It is much more simple than that.
Don’t Judge Solely Based on Lines, Texture, Colors, or Complexity: Sometimes the point of an abstract piece could be the lack of these elements that we consider synonymous to good art. You may wonder what is good abstract art? Well, that is mostly up to you and your tastes.
Is it Absurd?: Abstract art can be absurd at times, I agree. And most likely, it was created purposely to evoke that very emotion within us. Perhaps the artists wants to spur conversation or make us ask ourselves new questions. When there is nothing like it in the physical world, it is created through abstract art to put the ideas, the questions, the connections into existence. That is after-all, one of the purposes of art.
What Emotions Does it Evoke in You?: What does the painting remind you of? What sorts of emotions does it create within you? Abstract paintings are often created by the artist in reference to emotions, experiences, and even places.
Your Interpretation is Not Wrong: As an abstract artist, I love hearing the different emotions my paintings are able to evoke, the different thoughts people have, the different reasons people purchase my art to put in their homes. Because in the end, all these reasons are connected and makes my art into something greater… something I couldn’t achieve alone as the artist.
If you found this post interesting, you may also want to read my blog post on My 20 Favorite Abstract Artists – Not only do I name my favorite abstract artists, but also the specific reasons why I love their art. You may find some new abstract artists to fall in love with!
If you enjoyed this blog post, consider liking, commenting, or sharing this post with your friends. What do you like about abstract paintings? I’d love to hear from each of you.
Until next time my friends xx