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Issue 8
March 8, 2010

Abstract Expressionism:  Franz Kline (1910 – 1962)    

Franz Kline is most known for his large black and white compositions.  Only rarely did he use color in his work.  He produced variations, which never became a formula.  He started by painting rather traditional figurative pictures.  After spending most of the 1930s in England, he returned to the U.S. and settled in New York.  At this time the change in scale and drama in his work and the development of a highly personal abstract gestural style made him a heroic figure.  He, along with Williem de Kooning, did much to invent the rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism.  He died of rheumatic heart disease.  For more about Franz Kline, go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kl….



Painting Number 2, 1954

Featured Artist:  Edward Zacharewicz

Edward Zacharewicz is yet another talented artist that I found on Facebook.  Or should I say, he found me.  We have developed a friendship ever since.  Edward has a very unique style of painting.

After a 20 year hiatus, Edward has returned to the art world.  He rarely uses brushes, preferring palette and putty knives which give his work its unique and “decayed” look. He is gaining a lot of well-deserved renewed attention in the art community.  In fact, he is donating a painting to the Gods Love We Deliver / Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids Gala in NYC on March 27th 2010.  Edward is very generous, and donates his paintings frequently to good causes.



Burnt, 2009

He has shown in New York City, Princeton, NJ, New Hope, PA and Allentown, NJ before his break and has recently shown in NYC. Edward is always looking ahead towards new ideas and inspiration as well as new avenues for his art.



Innards, 2009

If you are interested in purchasing any of his paintings (he also does commissions), or showing any of his paintings, please visit his web site at www.decayart.com/index.html.&n… is also reachable on Facebook and Twitter where you will find updates of new paintings and information on upcoming shows.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

I’d like to say, “A lot!”, but I can’t.  Still on hiatus.  I should be painting in May.  Then I will bombard you with new paintings.  Maybe I should just include old paintings for now to give you something to look at.  Here’s “Momentum”, one of my favorites:



Poem of the Month:

my avidity surrounds me
with a turbulence
the malediction of ages –
a chemistry past,
seeking refuge in dreams
peacefulness known not
to my burning limbs
on fire with the years.

the paradox of reason
escapes not my intentions,
as the mirror image
stares back at me with
anticipation
my eyes burning
on fire with the years.

cjh
Circa 1989

celeste@cjhabstracts.com
www.cjhabstracts.com
  • Listening to: My S.O.'s FB game from her office
  • Reading: What Does the Bible Really Teach?
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: With the keyboard
  • Eating: Double Stuff Oreos
  • Drinking: Coffee, Red Bull
Issue 7
February 8, 2010

Abstract Expressionism:  Arshile Gorky (1904 – 1948)

Arshile Gorky was part of an exclusive group of Abstract Expressionists called “The Irascibles.”  This group, which included Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, was a very influential part of the movement.  Gorky achieved the pinnacle of his career in the 1940s, and his exhibitions have tended to be large and comprehensive in nature.  His largest and most important presentation was in 1981, a retrospective at the Guggenheim, which included nearly 250 works.  Gorky’s paintings of the early 1940s reflect his fascination of Kandinsky’s early paintings and watercolors, in which explosive colors and lines denote an emotional response to nature rather than direct observation.



In 1948, Gorky had the last one-person show of his lifetime at the Julien Levy Gallery.  The show was a select survey of Gorky’s career.  There was a review of the show in a publication which stated “What is new about these paintings is the unproblematic voluptuousness with which they celebrate and display the process of painting for their own sake.”

In that year, Gorky was in a car accident.  His neck was broken and his painting arm was paralyzed.  Three weeks later he and his wife separated and their children went with her.  These events proved too much for Gorky to overcome.  He committed suicide in his studio at the age of 44.  He wrote “Goodbye my beloveds” in white chalk on a painting crate.

Featured Artist:  Annette Labedzki, Vancouver, BC

Annette is yet another artist I met on Facebook.  I saw her colorful and fresh paintings and looked into her art further.  Her art has an almost childlike quality in its freedom; it expresses no limitations.

Born in Vancouver, B.C., Annette moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she spent her childhood and early adulthood. Her work was first recognized first during 10th grade, when the superintendent of the Winnipeg School Board purchased one of her paintings.  The artist spent a year studying human anatomy, figurative & nature drawing, and painting, before she went to study at The Emily Carr University of Art and Design and received her BFA degree.



Labedzki finds that abstract art offers immense scope for creative expression and allows her to experiment with great force. She has an excellent sense for design & color and plays around with new techniques on a consistent basis. From choosing the medium from a wide variety of papers, pastels, acrylics, and oils to the production of the final piece, her work is simply an impromptu elaborate artistry.

You can visit her web site at www.labedzki-art.com/index.php.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

Absolutely nothing.  I am delaying my painting until we make the move to
Myrtle Beach and I have my new paints.  I am going to buy my favorite kind, Golden.  The prices are a little costly, but the variety and quality of colors are unmatched.  The consistency is butter-like, workable but still dries quickly.  I have about 61 colors in mind.  I am looking forward to the warmer weather, painting in the garage (back to the 2-car this time – I am too cramped otherwise) with the door open.  Good times.

Poem of the Month:

I was a canyon
Filled with soot
Rock
And fire

You came to me
torn
First together, then apart

My skin was removed
I was burning
Upper layers
Inner layers
Outer layers
Laid out for you

You were a hand
Soft and warm
Cold and hard
Distant and so close

Pummeling me

Soothing me
Forever changing me

Like seasons
Like rain

Like a stranger who never forgets
The last town they abandoned
The last stop they made

Standing at the door
Watching the light fade
Watching it change colors
Seeing it go

cjh
October 2004
  • Listening to: A Mix on ITunes
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: With My Coke (a cola)
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee
Issue 6
January 8, 2010

Abstract Expressionism:  Wassily Kandinsky  

Wasilly Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was born in Moscow and considered the founder of abstract painting.  Representational elements of his painting disappeared in the 1920s.
At that time, he introduced geometric forms which became strictly abstract.  
Kandinsky released art from its traditional duty. While other artists similarly experimenting with the dissolution of the object and the promotion of color and form to means of expression in their own right, Kandinsky was the most logical and consistent in his pursuit.  He made it his life’s work to carry painting up to and over the threshold of abstraction, whereby his artistic activities were always accompanied by theoretical reflections and insights.  

Music, as a form of art free from all obligations to the outside world, provided him with both a point of orientation and a yardstick in his observations on the “sounds” of colors.  Kandinsky envied music for its independence and the freedom of means of expression.  He attempted to establish what he called a “theory of harmony for painting” comparable to that of music.

Kandinsky’s abstract works continued up until 1933, when he moved to France and became influenced by Mirợ.

Composition VI (1911) is one of my favorites.  I also like Composition VII (1913).

Featured Artist:  Diane Clement, Richmond, VA  

Diane Clement is yet another gem I found on Facebook.  I have always loved her confidence and her bold style.  It is not uncommon for Diane to use found objects or even to burn pieces of her art for effect - just because she feels like it.  And Diane is no stranger to awards and shows.  There was a wonderful article written about her in the Richmond Times- Dispatch.  I encourage you to read it.



Diane believes abstract art comes from the soul.  “My work as been described as ‘Freedom Made Visible’.  Is it brave?  Is it crazy?  I think it’s both.

Artist by birth, I studied what my Mother painted...realistic work.  I spent years drawing hands and eyes and trees.  I started throwing paint when I was 14 years old.  It was the most amazing feeling in the world.

I do not suffer the constraints formal training provides, the constraints of painting like my teacher or painting with the products used in formal training.  I am also not concerned by the expectations placed on artists by day to day society.  I have the luxury of painting from my soul with little or no restrictions.

The process is how I learn, how I grow.  Each painting is part of my process. I hope only that as one abstract artist, I will contribute to the art as a true painter. I'm not out to change history, to save the world or to influence people or to make friends.”

Diane said, “There is no need to be intimidated by artists. Look, admire, ask. Art is like your favorite wine. It doesn't matter what kind or how much it costs, the best art is the art that you like.”  Enough said.



You can learn more about Diane and see more of her work on her web site.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

I haven’t been painting lately due to the cold of my garage.  The house is too small to bring anything inside minus some tempera paints and paper.  I have also been delaying my happiness for various reasons.  I am planning an out-of-state move to a slightly warmer climate, and plan to start anew with new canvas and paint.

Poem of the Month:

Clove

It's one of those clear Fall nights
where you feel you can slice the moon
and eat it with a knife and fork

my clove cigarette crackles like a comforting fire

I am in and out with my usual burning desires

my mind goes to gentle things

streams and falls

cascading water taking me at will

I don't need gloves, I am warmed by the coffee cup

in and out of stores, looking for inspiration
in faces and places

beat beat beat of the drum

melodic escape

where i'll end up I don't know
but it's not here

i'm tired,
oozing out of my skin like that last bit of toothpaste
street sounds are like caramel for my ears

cjh
2008
  • Listening to: A Mix on ITunes
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: With My Coke (a cola)
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee
Issue 5
December 8, 2009

Abstract Expressionism:  Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956)

How could I not feature Jackson Pollock in my newsletter.

Jackson Pollock’s early work is characteristic of American romantic realism of the 1930.  He was also attracted to Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera.  These murals were thought to be the inspiration for his later, larger paintings.



Pollock Painting in his studio

Pollock became the central figure of American Abstract Expressionism.  His achievement was an important contribution to the rise of modern American painting and his early death in a road accident has added a legendary character to his reputation.  He painted his first “drip painting” (in which the painting was allowed to fall from the brush or vessel onto a canvas laid on the floor) in 1947 and this lead to “action painting”.  The form of his very large canvases was not preconceived and only emerged during the act of execution.



Here’s a fun experiment for you to try:
www.jacksonpollock.org/. … on enter site, then click your left mouse button and create your own Pollock!  It changes colors when you click your left mouse button and is lots of fun.  A friend shared this on Facebook and I have had fun with it ever since.

Featured Artist:  Inge Strack, Richmond, VA  

Inge is another gem I met on the Internet; this time on Facebook via a mutual friend.  Besides her wicked sense of humor, she is a great artist.



In her own words:
“My paintings consist of bold colors and a deep sense of emotion.  I often paint with a limited palette, rather focusing on brushstrokes, texture and form to find a balance.  I am drawn to the drama and the pain connecting us all in our humanity and strive to create beauty out of the most difficult circumstances.
I am not attempting to abstract the physical world; I am trying to get to the person behind the mask.  Edvard Munch said:  “Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye.  It also includes the inner pictures of the soul.”  I draw my subject matter from inside of myself hoping to create a constant conversation between the viewer and the painting, especially since abstracts do not seem to answer but ask.”

She has been featured in shows around the world.



I encourage you to visit her web site to view more of her magnificent work.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

Last month at my church we had a service focused on different creative expressions of what God means to us.  My painting, titled “Awakening”, done in 2003, was featured on display www.cjhabstracts.com/paintingsSold3.html (Bottom row).

I provided tempera paints to use, and the church provided the thick paper.  The kids were especially fond of this exercise.

Poem of the Month:

I am left
At the end of a night
At the start of me
Following a weekend
Of transformation
To my better self
Conquest
Again and again
Over my brittle but loyal heart
Flashing of souls
Passion of past & present
Spent & flourished
With the inner stream
Consciousness
I flow
And flaunt
Insecurities and wishes
Tomorrow approaches
But I am still
Whole
And shattered into bliss
Picking up the pieces
To assemble them
Again
To give back to you
Over and over
Until my and mine
Are yours

cjh
October 2004
  • Listening to: A Mix on ITunes
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: With My Coke (a cola)
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee
Issue 4
November 8, 2009

Abstract Expressionism:  Hans Hofmann

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) was a German painter and teacher who settled in the U.S. in 1931.  He was a friend of Matisse and Picasso in Paris before WWI.  In 1915 he opened an art school in Munich and in 1933 another in New York which powerfully influenced the development of contemporary U.S. painting.  His work was representational in the Expressionist tradition until the early 1940s when he began to develop an exuberant abstract style.



Hofmann was known for the “Push and Pull” technique.  “Developing [this technique] Hofmann proved that the illusion of space, depth, and even movement on a canvas could be created abstractly using color and shape, rather than representational forms.”

Make your own Hoffman “Push and Pull” puzzle!www.pbs.org/hanshofmann/push_a…

Featured Artist:  Lou Majors, Asheville, NC  

Lou Majors is another gem I found on craigslist.  Honestly, I found his posting bizarre, but there was also something intriguing about it.  I contacted him and asked, “Having any luck?”  I sure wasn’t at the time.  That started a back and forth communication that has lasted for
about a year.  I follow him on Facebook.  He has a very positive outlook on life, and lives it to the fullest every day.  He is very interesting, to say the least.

Lou graduated from the University of Georgia with a BBA in Marketing/Advertising.  He began painting in 1987, with two years of painting with nothing but black paint and newsprint, to become comfortable with brush strokes.  In 1990 – 1992 he sold art on the streets of Atlanta.  He has had 60 showings, five murals, and has painted 5 cars!  He participated in a 1992 show in Soho (The Mayor’s Show Paris at The Sorbonne), and has participated in shows around the country and around the world.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

Not as much as I would like.  I am a little tired of using “do-overs” and my only two new canvases are a small one and a very large 48 x 48.  I have already planned some ideas for the 48 x 48 and it will be on commission, but the client will not be able to purchase it until after Christmas, in installments, so I prefer to wait.  I certainly don’t want it to get messed up in the garage.  

Additionally, for some reason, I just haven’t had the urge to paint.  That is what I usually get – a pressing need that must be met.  It’s not that I have to wait for that feeling to paint, but the process is less gratifying if I am trying to “force it.”  I have done one painting in the last couple of months and it was more to express emotion than for the outcome, which is what I strive to achieve these days anyway – I must continue to try to focus on the process.  

Poem of the Month:

Visage of Dreams

it's a place you've seen in endless photographs
dark reds and amber sky
a mile across "as the crow flies"
pale dust moon and smoky incense cliffs
visitors huddled with cameras in caverns
and vast overlooks without end
you have to experience it for yourself to know.
the native lands
sorrowful cries and strength
handmade dreamcatchers
colorful beads
proud heritage
i've never seen such humble beauty
nor felt the presence of God like this.

(About the Grand Canyon)
cjh.
October 2007
  • Listening to: A Mix on ITunes
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: Writing in my daily journal
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee
Issue 3
October 23, 2009

Abstract Expressionism:  Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning (1904 – 1997) was a heavy hitter in the abstract expressionist movement.

He was born in the Netherlands and studied for eight years at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques.  He was apprenticed as a youth to a commercial art and decorating firm.  In 1926, at the age of 32, he sailed for the U.S.  He settled in New York in 1927 and supported himself as a commercial artist, house painter and carpenter.

In 1935 he spent a year on the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration and was able, for the first time, to devote himself exclusively to painting.  

He taught at Black Mountain College in NC and the Yale School of Art in 1950-1951.

Despite his perserverance, de Kooning had a legendary inability to “finish” a painting, to make it a state of polished perfection.

He spent months creating Excavation, de Kooning’s attempt to create an all-inclusive masterpiece.



The most popular and widely discussed paintings by de Kooning were his “Woman” series.  His violent images of women revealed tensions in his marriage and the paintings exposed fears of this domineering mother, who had terrified him as a child.



By the end of the 1980s, he was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease and stopped painting.

Featured Artist:  Adija Wolf, Asheville, NC

I met Adija, interestingly enough, through craigslist.  She had posted some of her work and I was compelled to send her a message with the typical “I love your work, and if I could afford it, I would buy it!”  She was happy to receive the email, and we started communicating.  I have had the pleasure of speaking with her and meeting up for coffee on several occasions.  She is a fascinating person to talk to, to hear her philosophy of life, and her freedom from the weight of focusing on possessions.  She is truly a free spirit.  Her works consist of abstracts as well as realistic portrayals of landscapes and figures.

I think her web site says it best:

“Adija was born in Philadelphia in 1951. She attended The Miquon School, a very alternative education for the 1950's, and one that, she feels, taught her that everything is a form of art and that art has no required form.

Her passion for children and for the creative process inspire the childlike creations that often are her art. To be like a child, creating from a place of innocence and without judgment, is her artistic goal.

Adija is a writer, a musician, a Feng Shui designer, and a peace activist. She has worked in research and design in the craft and art industries, and continues to study art process as she teaches it to children.

All of life is an art form; as we are the creators of it all.

‘My paintings create me. Painting is my practice, my way of contributing to the collective imagination.

I rarely have a plan for a painting but rather each stroke directs the next. I practice placing my eyes on my heart and begin paintings with words and images of gratitude and peace first painted onto the canvas and then the journey begins. I often begin a landscape and then "work away from the image" as an inner landscape paints itself over the canvas.   



When children look at an "abstract" painting, they immediately see the "horse" or the "face" without having to first see through the abstraction. As one young student said to me,"Sure, I know what abstract art is, it's the stuff you have to squint at in order to see what it is!" My passion for working with our children stems from my desire to participate in the world that sees love and peace without having to first see through the abstraction.’"

In addition to her painting, she also creates “Sacred Space Angels”.  These magnificent works are are all individually created from textiles and jewelry gathered from women.  We made a trade and I now have one in my house:

It is hanging on the wall and appears to be in flight.  

I highly recommend that you check out her web site at www.adijawolf.com.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

Not a whole lot.  I have been doing more experiments with tempera paint and heavy paper stock.  I just haven’t had the “bug” to paint lately.  That concerns me a little, but I guess I will go through phases.  Part of it is that my studio is in the garage, and it has been cold lately.  Not really much incentive to go out there.

Totem (Detail)



For me, tempera is basically a way to practice without committing to a canvas.  Not to mention that I made a makeshift studio in my kitchen.

That’s what happens when you have a small house and use the extra bedrooms as offices.  It is working so far, no real messes yet, except when I stepped in paint and left tracks all over the kitchen floor.  I keep worrying that my dog will step in it.  That would be a mess.

Well, enough out of me for now.  Hope you enjoyed this issue.

cjh.
  • Listening to: Pavarotti
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: Writing in my daily journal
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee
Issue 2
September 15, 2009

Abstract Expressionism, The “Chick Factor”:  Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984), wife of  Jackson Pollock, was relegated to the background while he was alive.  She, however, was a formidable abstract artist in her own right.  She studied under the tutelage of Hans Hoffman at
the National Academy of Design in New York, NY.

One of my personal favorites is Noon, 1947.  This piece is very action-oriented; you can almost feel the energy of the people bustling around New York City.

While highly self-critical (her final catalog includes only about 600 works; many works were discarded or re-done), she and Pollock enjoyed mutual support during their lives together.

Krasner will remain one of the pioneers of the abstract expressionist movement.

Featured Artist:  Cliff Warner, UK

Cliff Warner is one of those people I was fortunate enough to “stumble upon” in Facebook.  

I was viewing some great art in a Facebook art group and came across one of his many inspired creations.  Wanting to see more, I sent him a friend request.  I have been enjoying his work ever since.  



A little about Cliff:  he completed a foundation course in art at North Staffs Polytechnic UK, which lead to a B.A. in Fine Art Painting at Liverpool Polytechnic.

Cliff’s inspiration for figurative art came originally from drawing and painting different life models. His reason for specializing in figurative art “was simply discovering how vast a subject figuration is; both historically [e.g. classical subject matter] and in its interpretation. He find[s] the figure to be a very versatile vehicle in expressing representational/abstract/expressionistic/impressionistic ideas, etc., through
the use of different media.”

Some of his work tends to convey a meditative/ethereal and reflective ambiance, which are inspired by a personal spiritual guidance underlying the creative process.  Other works are inspired by interests in the art of dance and jazz.

Cliff’s paintings draw from many influences, especially Renaissance
art work and more Modernist work by artists such as Balthus, Mattise, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiel. These different influences are reflected in the various styles and ideas he uses.

As for his technique, he sometimes starts with painting a basic composition and then applying
standard soft pastel which he grinds up and applies with tissue paper, which creates an ethereal effect. Sometimes he uses a very soft pencil to give a more detailed effect. On more standard acrylic paintings that are almost completed, he usually applies a small amount of charcoal or conte crayon which is then smudged.



I encourage you to experience some of Cliff’s magic for yourself:  www.cliffwarner.co.uk.  

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

The Painting Experience Workshop

I had a great time at the Painting Experience workshop.  I had some apprehension prior to the workshop because I had allowed myself to become intimidated by some previous work by students featured in the preliminary materials.  I quickly found myself letting go once I arrived.  It was amazing how the transformation occurred.  

We were given access to heavy stock paper, tempera paints, and four brushes (from a fine, detailed brush to a flat brush of a slightly larger size).  We were allowed to stick to one sheet or use as many as we preferred.  I ended up doing 7 paintings over the 2.5 day workshop, one double and the rest single sheets.  I did glance around the room fairly early on to see what others were doing.  I both saw work that was “better” or “equal to” what I was working on.  The “equal to” gave me some relief.  Seeing others so freely creating without barriers gave me the freedom to take a deep breath and just relax.  The best feeling I had was indifference.  This may sound negative but is actually the contrary.  So often when I am painting I am concerned heavily with the end result; this detracts from my enjoying the process of creating itself.  In this manner, the workshop was invaluable.  I honestly didn’t care what came about.  I even stepped outside of my comfort zone to use a detailed brush.

I have since purchased some tempera paint and paper to use to play around with or as a precursor to painting on canvas.  I am having fun with it.

My First Commission

I received the honor of doing my first two commission pieces.  A friend posted a link to my web site on her Facebook page, and as a result, one of her friends bought a piece from the site.  She then asked if I would be willing to do a commission.  I had not done so yet but was certainly open to the idea.  She gave me the color schemes she was interested in and I took it from there.  She loved the result!

Eye of the Storm II (to see full image go to www.cjhabstracts.com under sold paintings)



In The Blue (to see full image go to www.cjhabstracts.com under sold paintings)


  

*******************************

At the divide
Where the known and unknown collide
Lies true art.
I am the door.
The telltale brush
Colors of countries
Indifference  jubilation
I am reborn.

cjh
2009
  • Listening to: Pavarotti
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: Writing in my daily journal
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee
Issue 1
August 15, 2009

I assume you are reading this newsletter because you are either interested in abstract art or art in general.  By now you have likely read my Artist’s Statement www.cjhabstracts.com/index.htm… and know a little about how I ended up trying this thing called “art”.

First, I will tell you a little about my interest in abstract art, and then tell you a little about the Abstract Expressionist movement.  I will also have a featured artist in each issue, alternating between both classical and contemporary abstract artists.

I’ll be honest.  I can’t draw a stick figure.  I am not drawn to art that looks like a photograph, though I do appreciate the talent it requires.  Abstract art appeals to me, as I assume it appeals to most of its fans, because it expresses emotion and uses colors and composition in interesting and innovative ways.  It is risky.  It is often unintentional, without dwelling on results but focusing on the process.  Now, I will also add that many, if not all, abstract artists can in fact paint realism.  They choose to be abstract artists.  A lot of people say, “I can do that,” or “My five-year old could do that,” or things of that nature.  My response to the former is go ahead and try.  It’s not as easy as it looks.  My response to the latter is, of course you can.  Children don’t have the self-imposed limitations that many adults seem to have (www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL5s36…).  They feel free to create and aren’t pressured by fear of “messing it up.”

Abstract Art:  A Brief History

Abstract:  ab⋅stract.  – adjective.  Fine arts:  a.  of or pertaining to the formal aspect of art, emphasizing lines, colors, generalized or geometrical forms, etc., esp. with reference to their relationship to another.

The term Abstract Expressionism was first used to describe work by Wassily Kandinsky in 1919.  The term was later applied to a movement started mainly in New York in the 1940s which was highly active and influential through the 1950s and early 1960s.
Early pioneers of the movement include Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.  It was officially recognized in the 1951 Museum of Modern Art exhibition “Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America”.  The term “action painting” has been used in relation to abstract art, to refer to the same general types of artistic activity which, however, began to be differentiated into two tendencies:  brush painting concerned with gesture, action, and texture (de Kooning, Pollock), and color-field painting concerned with a large unified shape or area of color (Mark Rothko).  

Abstract Expressionism is a landmark in the general history of art and of modern art in particular.  It represents a revolutionary event which revises our view of things before and after.  As Hollywood, Coke or a Ford soon became part of the everyday geography of experience, so the most famous instances of Abstract Expressionism have provided ready-made symbols of modernity to our cosmopolitan eyes.  

Featured Artist:  Jonas Gerard, Asheville, NC

I chose Jonas Gerard as my first featured artist not only because I love his work, but because his art, and he as a person, has made a profound impact on me.  I will tell the story and then introduce you to his work.  

Jonas’ gallery is located in my home town of Asheville, NC.  One day last year, during a particularly bad bout of depression, my therapist said “You like abstract art, go see Jonas Gerard”.  I was desperate, so I dragged myself to his downtown studio.  The minute I walked through the door, something happened inside me.  I saw the vibrancy and passion of his work and it stirred positive feelings.  My world of gray suddenly had color.  As I walked through his studio, these positive feelings intensified.

Not too long after, he had a reception.  I walked up to him and introduced myself.  I briefly told him my story.  It made him happy that his work had made me feel better.  Some time later, when my father died, we were discussing art.  He asked me about the largest size canvas I had painted.  I told him, but said that the only reason I hadn’t painted a larger canvas was due to financial reasons.  The next thing I know, he is buying me large canvasses and letting me pick out other ones.  He also gave me some of his professional paints.  40 8 oz jars.  I felt like my Dad was working through Jonas that day, though Jonas is a generous man.  He has taken me under his wing a bit, offering me advice and encouraging me to focus on the process, not the end result.



Jonas is a very talented and successful artist who has already made a strong presence in Asheville though he has only been here a year.  He can paint any style.  His 8 foot painting, “We the People” was accepted at the White House in Washington, DC in 1975 by President Gerald R. Ford on behalf of all Americans.  This painting, considered our Nation's Bicentennial portrait, is now a permanent part of the Smithsonian Institute's collection.  He chooses to do abstract art.  He has a very distinct style.  He has particular tools and a unique technique.  You can see the results of the tools in his swirls and lines.  

He is a fast painter, and admittedly paints better in front of a live audience.  His performance paintings are an amazing and inspiring experience.  Watching him have so much fun makes you want to go home and paint!  He paints directly from 32oz jars and uses a separate brush for every color.  Obviously he is not the one washing them!  



He uses a “push and pull” technique first used by Hans Hofmann.  Hofmann proved that the illusion of space, depth, and even movement on a canvas could be created abstractly using color and shape, rather than representational forms.  Jonas paints with large brushes on large canvasses (most of the time).  He uses intent, sweeping strokes and often splashes paint on the canvas.  He will sometimes paint over sections as he is working.  He meditates, usually for an hour, before he paints.  He turns his mind off and his mind therefore frees him to do what he does.  He likes to paint in the middle of the night, when he is not as affected by other people’s energy.  I strongly encourage you to check out his work.

What I’ve Been Up to Lately:

I have been experimenting with house paint.  I was given a 5 gallon bucket of blood red.  Red is my favorite color, so I was thrilled.  I have about 10 other colors.  I find that mixing them with plaster on the canvas gives them more texture and “tooth”.  I am just trying to focus on the joy of creating and not the end result.  Doing that is easier sometimes than others.  To that end, I am taking a workshop next weekend called The Painting Experience.  It is being held in Asheville.  It is supposed to get you focused on the process and not the product.  It should be fun.

My Latest:  Extrovert III
  • Listening to: Pavarotti
  • Reading: The Mind of God
  • Watching: My computer
  • Playing: Writing in my daily journal
  • Eating: Swiss Cake Rolls
  • Drinking: Coffee