Abstract Art: Harder Than You Think

220px-No_61_Mark_Rothko
No. 61 (Rust and Blue) by Rothko

Some people naturally appreciate modern art. I am not one of them. Several times, I’ve found myself standing in an art gallery, staring at a painting called something like “Red Line on White Canvas,” and thinking, “I could do that.”

Today, I actually tried it. I got out my colored pencils . . .  and had absolutely no ideas. I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to create art that didn’t look like physical objects.

Onement 1 by Newman
Onement 1 by Newman

To give myself some inspiration, I browsed the work of two abstract expressionist painters, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. Rothko’s paintings depict colored rectangles. Newman’s works feature bright colors with thin vertical lines running through them. I’m not a very good artist, but I decided to imitate both of these artists. How hard could it be to draw some lines and color blocks?

It was much harder than I thought. Drawing the shapes was fairly easy, but it was hard to create a picture that was visually pleasing. I couldn’t explain why, but my pictures were less interesting than the originals. My rectangles looked like random blobs. My lines weren’t very striking.

My imitation of Rothko
My imitation of Rothko

This reminded me of a conversation several of my friends who are art majors had about abstract art. They said that it was hard to create good composition with such limited subject matter.

While I still don’t understand modern art, I gained a new appreciation for artists who can make such a simple structure hold the viewers’ attention. It’s a deceptively simple art form.

My imitation of Newman
My imitation of Newman
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Abstract Art: Harder Than You Think

  1. This is so true! I’ve also tried before to create my own modern art, and it definitely gave me a bigger appreciation for the artists who can actually do it well. I’m still learning to find meaning in the modern art, but it truly is a gift and I have a way higher appreciation for it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nice attempt! I think it was daring of you to try it in colored pencil. Maybe colored pencil isn’t the right tool for modern art of this caliber. Thanks for sharing your attempt and your thoughts. It gave me a new appreciation for modern art as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s