Thanks! It's really encouraging to get positive responses to these. I've always been kind of "on the fence" about abstract art so this is quite a bit outside my comfort zone. (Which I suppose is a good thing.) I really spend a lot longer in debating whether or not to submit these, than I do with my more realistic pieces.
you said you were on the fence when it comes to abstract art. Why do you think that is? For me, I feel the same way. I love looking at abstract, but the thought of creating an abstract piece terrifies me a bit. Way beyond my knowledge.
You, on the other hand, are well read and educated (it would seem) and from what I can tell, you are quite good at it...so....??
I think, in terms of my own experience, I've always been more of a "thinker" than a "feeler" so that non-representative art presents a completely alien challenge. It is difficult, if not impossible to create a story, or plot from it, without relying heavily on title and outside references. It's main power is in its suggestive, emotive qualities. That's the first reason for my avoidance or ambivalence.
The second reason is probably hold-over preconceptions from childhood, the classic stigma on abstract art as "something even a monkey could do" [link] (or cats [link], or elephants [link], etc). There's the common notion that it doesn't take any skill to splash paint or pixels around on the canvas, which is true to a certain extent, but the greatest abstract art always has a foundation of artistic principles and elements (shape, form, colour, composition, etc.) underlying its seemingly arbitrary, careless, or random appearance. In a way, we can consider any piece of art abstract (even hyper-realism) if we divorce the art from meaning. If we didn't have mental concepts and representations of what a cloud, or a shoe, or a man, or a duck looked like they would all be abstract markings on a canvas. But since we do have these mental boxes to categorize things into, we get fixated on judging how close to "reality" we've come in our result. With abstract, we can't do that - so there is seemingly no end point of completion based on skill level or semblance to reality. A piece of abstract art is finished whenever the artist feels the results are "right". I suppose in that sense, its closest analogy would be to poetry.
I liken abstract painting to an attempt to regain some of the childhood freedom and innocence we all lose as we grow. It's mark-making for the sake of mark-making. I think it's pretty amazing to think how open, and relatively inclusive, the art world has become, all the barriers to free-expression were battered down by our predecessors. Leaving us to create for the simple pleasure of creating.
Thanks for bringing up those questions, it was fun to get the chance to give the topic more focused thought. I hope my response provided some insight or answers to you. I think it did for me.