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Representational but abstract

I went to the reception at Ethical Culture Society on Sunday and saw my painting Elephant Ears for the first time since I finished it late last year.  I really like it but more importantly, I saw it for the first time from across a room.

A friend of mine who is a really good artist with a Fine Arts degree and who really knows art-speak, proceeded to take ten minutes to explain to me how abstract Elephant Ears really is.  And I got it, though I didn’t fully understand everything she said and certainly wouldn’t have thought of it myself.  The effect from across the room is very different from up close and personal.

Elephant Ears

Elephant Ears

Up close, I see the details of the leaves, their varied colors, their veins…

From a distance … Among other things, she talked about a series of L-shapes starting with the pink tiles which move from dark to light to dark, moving to the lighter green leaf and other leaves with light edges, and then  to the L formed by the darker leaves and then to the final light leaf at the top right.

But I still think my painting is pretty realistic so we’re probably using the words differently.  After we finished painting together today at Wave Hill, I asked her about realistic, representational and abstract.   She said that my painting is representational but with abstract elements.  Twenty minutes and a lot of art history (on her part) and questions (on my part) later, I’m left with a continuum from photo realistic at one end, through representational (you still know what it is) and on to completely abstract (no clue what it is) at the other end.  Don’t know if that’s really right, but it’s my current state of understanding.

At this point, representational with abstract elements makes sense as a description of Elephant Ears.

I wonder how long it will take me to really understand and be comfortable with these kind of art discussions.  It’s definitely a work in progress.

Posted by ruthhurd on January 25, 2011

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