Realistic vs. Abstract

I went to the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE) on Saturday (July 6, 2013), it wasn’t as hot as last year, which was a good thing. As always there was lots of art to look at, in all kinds of mediums: painting, sculpture, textiles, jewelry, photography, drawing, etc. The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is where I bought my puzzle piece lapel pin, that 10 years later would inspire the name of my consulting company, Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting, but I digress.

While I was at TOAE I spoke with several of the artists about their art, their process, and motivation, because as much as I dislike people asking me those questions, mostly because I have to think too hard to describe my art in words, I am curious about other artist’s practice.

In particular I had a good chat with Brock Irwin and his art. As you can see on his website he sometimes paints realistic pieces, and sometimes abstract. I asked why he goes back and forth between the two types, he said he gets tired/bored of doing one style of the other, so switches back and forth. What also intrigued me was that he said he thought the abstract was much more difficult than the realistic. He explained that the while realistic pieces were much more technically difficult, there was typically a model that he was working from e.g. a landscape, a bowl of fruit, etc. whereas with abstract pieces it was all coming from inside him. The abstract pieces demanded much more knowledge and attention to colour and composition.

I think I mostly agree with him, in the details of what he said, but for me, the realistic pieces are hard, I don’t have the patience to do them. I also feel like, for me art is about expression, and emotion, and the reaction I have to either looking at a piece or creating a piece and the thoughts of me doing something realistic is something mind-numbingly boring and tedious. I can absolutely appreciate the dedication and skill involved, but it’s not where my interest lies.

To me the abstract pieces that I create are the easiest thing in the world to create, they bring me joy and balance and I enjoy creating them like I enjoy nothing else. I enjoy going into myself to decide on colours and shapes and composition, and doing what speaks to me. That is not to say that process is easy, it definitely takes time and courage. I have had many people tell me they could never create abstract paintings like I create, they would be too worried about “getting it right” and “making a mistake.”

To me that is the best part, there is no “getting it right” or “making a mistake” there’s nothing to compare against, it’s pure, unadulterated, me.

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