Sunday, January 3, 2021

Abstract painting


Abstract painting has never been my favorite style of painting. But I love painting enough that over the years I came to enjoy it more and more. One of the art schools I went to, The San Francisco Art Institute, was absorbed in abstract expressionism when I was there, but I was not happy at that school so it made little impression. My wife's interest is probably what most won me over, and I have been enthralled standing in front of Kandinskys and Rothkos, Cy Twomblys and Pollocks. To remind myself of abstract artists I like I just now stumbled upon Zao Wou-Ki and I'd love to see some of his work in person.

For many years I painted, but as I look back on it I have had an increasing sense that it was never entirely to my satisfaction. I liked my portraits best, but I think there was some slightly missing talent or fluidity that held me back. And I never felt the freedom or sense for painting I might have loved or that had any chance of leading me to working abstractly. 

However, had I ever managed to make large scale oil abstractions, I think, if I been able to do it, I would have had them look something like this:

Of course, or maybe not so obviously, I don't know how they might seem to you, these are not paintings. They are pictures I have taken of my local stream in Winter. They perhaps seem wildly digitally manipulated. They seem that way somewhat to me. And yet they oddly aren't much more altered than any of my other pictures I have posted on clerkmanifesto, ones whose subjects remain clear and articulate, and I'm not so sure how easily I could recreate these strange effects taking pictures of anything else. They really are just close shots of layers of churning water, running and bubbling into ice, all before heading over some falls.

I'm not asking for any awards or praise or alterations of history or new personal gifts. 

But I wouldn't have minded having painted these.


  1. But you HAVE painted them. You painted with light, not pigment, but to my way of thinking, you painted them.

    1. This is really nice and part of me agrees, but part of me is like "It was all too easy".


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