Our studio is a cutting-edge collective of working artists – we live and breathe our work and the pieces we create. But no artist works in a vacuum. In this series, we take a look at some of the movements which make up our lineage as artists, placing our current creations in the context of wider art movements. Today, we’re looking at Michael’s work and how it relates to Abstract Expressionism.
Abstract art is a broad term that describes art which doesn’t directly depict a form – like a person or a landscape – and instead uses color and shape in their “pure” form to evoke a response in the viewer. Two people might have completely different interpretations of a piece of abstract art, depending on their associations with the colors and shapes the artist has chosen.
Abstract expressionism is a term used by art critics to describe the work of painters in the 1940s and 50s, like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. These artists used brush strokes in big gestures, swept across the page, as well as active techniques like dripping, splashing, or spattering paint to create big, surprising canvases that were instantly striking.
Abstract painting at Creative Gateways
Michael Colpitts works in many different mediums, one of which are his distinctive abstract paintings. He is drawn to colors and shapes, and doesn’t define himself by any particular genre. In fact, he acknowledges that he is something of a rebel when it comes to his creative process. “I have so many interests that I don’t follow any one technique, which isn’t what most galleries want – they’d prefer paintings all in the same style. I like to experiment too much! I get impulses and ideas of something I want to try. Sometimes it’s a disaster, sometimes it’s a whole new direction. I never know until I’ve done it.”
In one of Michael’s recent paintings, we can clearly see the kinds of concepts embraced by the abstract expressionists coming through in the way he has played with different colors and styles of painting.
Michael’s latest piece
This piece, for Michael, is all about the dark and the light. In his words:
“This painting taught me… all about the contrast between orange, purple, and Prussian blue. In it I played with mixing the geometric, giving more of a contemporary, urban edge, with contrasting quiet, atmospheric areas.
Look at the beautiful edges around the dark, looming shape on one side. The edges, as it gets thinner, have become a little more translucent. I learned on this painting to put lighter color over a darker color, but not to cover the whole thing. Instead, I just dragged it gently with the brush, and let the background show through.
Look closely and you’ll see that a theme throughout the painting is the contrast between hard edges and soft edges. That’s what keeps the viewer interested in the painting, gives it variation. As an artist, when you vary the way you apply the paint, it creates a much more interesting result. The eye travels, and the effect is a feeling of uplift, of movement within the painting.”
Art movements in action
When we look at different styles of art from the point of view of the creator, we can see how pure expression becomes part of a bigger movement. Artists don’t sit down with a book and choose a certain movement to follow (at least, not at Creative Gateways). They follow their instincts and gain inspiration from their life experiences, and that’s what is expressed in their work.
So labels like Abstract Expressionism simply help us to see the connection to other artists, and to understand the history of different kinds of art. We can find ways that different works break the “rules” of certain genres, as well as continuing them.
Experience what it’s like to be a part of a creative community by visiting our studio – we’d love to welcome you to one of our friendly events such as the upcoming Awakening Artistry: Spotlight of Marika Israelson. Sign up for our newsletter below or Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s going on, and for the chance to meet our artists and find out about their inspiration.
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