Finding Meanings in Abstract Paintings That Are Rich in Content

It is quite common for people to feel overwhelmed by the mere sight of an abstract painting on the wall. They do not know how to approach it properly; should they be awed by the color splashes, mesmerized by the supposedly nonexistent subject matter, enchanted by the brushwork techniques?

It is also quite common for people to have something negative to say about abstract paintings altogether, usually along the lines “Anyone could have done that!” and “It is just random chaos, not art.”

It seems to be more favorable to keep silent and save your opinion to yourself, unless you want to be accused of “lacking the artistic soul to appreciate real art.” However, you will be missing a lot if you are one of the people who choose to approach abstract art this way.

An abstract painting does not have to be a mystery to everyone, other than the painter, maybe. On one hand, yes, the painting will usually hold more significance and a deeper meaning for the artist, since it was crafted with their personal touches. On the other hand, abstract masterpieces often are able to evoke some feelings in the viewers, allowing them to have their own interpretations of the work.

Besides, there is no rule that says everyone needs to view an artwork from the creator’s point of view, although many seem to believe so. After all, everyone is entitled to have their own opinions, and where the artistic souls are concerned, there are always multiple ways to approach the same work of art.

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If you are going to try your hand on creating an abstract work, you should first ask yourself what kind of message you would want your painting to convey to the viewer. Is it something very specific, or should the viewers come up with their own interpretations?

If the subject or message is highly personal, it is normal for you as the artist to be the only person to understand your work, but you can still include some details to connect the painting to the viewers.

For example, paint it in such a way that there are some sense of harmony, whether in the color choice or composition, to make it pleasant to the eyes. Abstract paintings can include a sense of beauty without relying so much on the concreteness of the subject.

At the end of the day, regardless whether the artwork comes from an abstract or realistic perspective, the audience can always derive their own meanings from it. And it is highly encouraged for you to do the same. The next time you go to the museum, let your guard down and free up your expectations.

Just enjoy looking at the painting as it is. Without the pressure to “get it”, simply let the meanings to emerge from the canvas and do not force yourself to come up with something clever or particularly insightful.

Observe your thoughts when you see the painting, you feelings and first impression. Take your clue from the painting’s title or artist comment. If nothing comes up, just move on to the next painting.

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