Abstract Expression as Therapy
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Thoughts of A Sociable Artist

Abstract Expression as Therapy

The definition of abstract art: 
Art that does not attempt to represent external, recognizable reality but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures.
 “Energy and motion made visible – memories arrested in space”
My mom was an artist.  When she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, her artistic style changed.  Not due to any physical limitations, her nerve damage was limited to the left side of her body, but more likely due to the mental challenge presented by dealing with an autoimmune disease.  When she was forced to accept that her body was attacking itself, I suppose she tried to find some control through artistic expression. After receiving her diagnosis, my mom could never see life in the same way, and so her art could never be the same.  Things she had taken for granted had become abstract.

She began to paint abstract paintings full of brightly hued patterns and shapes. They were neatly ordered puzzles of design and color.  She painted this style on any object that didn't move.  To the left is an image of a door she painted in her home.  

I have been told by others faced with chronic disease, that art is the one activity that allows them to forget their struggle for as long as they have brush in hand. 

A lot of people don’t understand art that doesn’t depict a recognizable object a subject matter, but art is not just about pretty pictures and skillful depictions of reality.     Sometimes the value of art is not just in the beautiful result but in the actual process of applying paint to white canvas; of the feeling you evoke with the motion of your brushstrokes and the drama of certain colors interacting with each other. If you think of art as an expression, sometimes abstract is the purest form..  You are trying to paint frustration, love, anger, music, the flow of the universe. 

Abstract art is our way of taking a complex, confusing, and demanding world and breaking it down into its essential elements: color form, movement, feeling. An artist may create an entire series of paintings designed to study the color pink – to explore how it interacts with other colors.
Abstract is an escape from rules, from conformity, from expectation. So the next time you look at a smear of gray paint on a field of yellow, try to see it without expectation and without preconceived notions of what art should be.  Appreciate the quality of the color, the motion of the brushstrokes, the simplicity  of form.  If you look very carefully, you may be able to see into the heart and soul of the artist.  The beauty of abstract is that it demands so little of us and gives to us whatever we are willing to take.

If you are in need of a little "art therapy", try this simple exercise:

1. Without over-thinking, quickly draw a loose pattern, shape, or scribble with a sharpie or paint pen on a blank white canvas.

2. Choose a palette of colors that are pleasing to you in your current state of mind.

3. Simply fill in each shape (with feeling!) using patterns, differing brushstrokes, alternating colors.

4. Voila! An abstract masterpiece!

The painting below was created by one of our teams at a Sociable Art Abstract Ensemble Team Building Event at Pinehurst Resorts and donated to The Carying Place.

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