Last Monday was the final class, and the big end-of-session critique, in Abstract Art. I had little to show and surprisingly few opinions. But sometimes you learn more when you listen than when you talk.
Each student brought to the front of the class a collection of paintings they had completed. They varied wildly. I mean, wildly. And I was at a loss about what to think about much of the work.
I was recounting all this to Sherry Kwint-Cattoche, my figure drawing teacher.
“I just don’t get it,” I said. “I just can’t do it.”
“A lot of figurative painters can’t do abstract,” she said with a shrug. “We are too into the narrative of our work.”
I stopped talking, again! Of course, Sherry is right. I wasn’t a psych major by accident. I didn’t spend my first career asking people questions and writing about what they were doing by happenstance. I wasn’t drawn to publish websites where people congregated, communicated and worked together because I was an introvert.
It has always been about stories for me. And people (or people-like animals) are always the stars of my stories.
But paintings are, in fact, paintings and not short stories. And I am seeing a little “Tesia” in my work now. I’ve learned a bit more about paint handling and composition for its own sake. It all adds to the “paintingness” (instead of the short-story-ness) of my work.
Next post, I’ll deconstruct my latest painting and show you exactly what I mean.