Here is the final art of the piece that seemed to create itself when I looked at the old frame and mat. A few days ago, I showed it in its infancy. I call it the “E.P.A. Abstract” because its style reminds me of murals from the 1930’s, many of which were commissioned by the U.S. government to create jobs for artists, a fine idea. this is actually a semi-abstract, since there is a human form in it.
It will be included in my show of abstracts at the Avalon Salon in San Rafael, with the opening night being March 11th.
It’s been a while since I created a lot of abstract art, mostly delegating it to between art jobs. Yesterday, however , I found that I’ll have a one person show in March/April of 2016 and the preference is for the abstracts. It so happens that I had begun one a few days prior, so I continued on with it, and here it is, assuming I don’t look at it and go, “hmmmmmmm……maybe I should add THIS, and subtract THAT”, which is easy to do with an abstract. In fact, for me, the most difficult part in doing abstracts is trying to figure out when there’s no more to do. One can ALWAYS change it. That sort of freedom can be a terrifying thing, so one simply has to go by one’s instincts and emotions. With figurative art, of course, there is really no such decision involved. One has a real clear idea of when it’s done. Still, there are similarities like composition, color, color value, and form.
The image size on this one, incidentally is 19″ w x 26″ d. It was done in watercolor and cold press watercolor paper strips was pasted on to hot press paper for new textures.
Here is my explanation. Picture three rings that intersect and overlap one another in the middle, with each of those rings representing one of the following categories–illustration, graphic design, and “fine art.” Each one is an entity unto itself, and yet they have common areas. There are plenty of examples of one piece of art being all three at once, with the caveat being that the term, “fine art,” is subjective. I’m a fan of all three.
Illustration is what I do. I create images by drawing and painting them in ink and watercolor. While my work is done entirely by hand in “traditional media,” perfectly valid illustrations may be computer generated. Regardless of the medium, illustrations are images usually created to highlight something that is written first. The image is illustrating the written word, and bringing more attention to that message than if it was simply a written word.
When that illustration is combined with typography, as in a poster or advertisement, we’re in the category of graphic design. Graphic design normally involves words, layout, and combining those with images. Logos are usually considered graphic design, even if there are aspects of illustration in them. Those aspects are stylized and hard edged enough to blend in with the lettering, and this type of work is mostly done on a computer. I have hand drawn some logos, and those fall right in between the two categories.
The purpose of illustration is specific, as is that of graphic design, and, to put it loosely, they are advertising something, be it a product or an idea. A client, either individual or business, hires the person creating the illustration, or design. The artist knows that he/she will be paid, usually receiving a down payment to begin.
Fine art is art that is created by and for the artist. It can be anything the artist feels like doing at that moment. It may be representational. It may be abstract. Its intentions are to be “art for art’s sake,” and, after completion, the artist will try to sell it. Many aspects of illustration and graphic design, such as composition, use of color, texture, shadow, and subject, are also parts of fine art, and that is where the three categories intersect.
Lastly, an anecdote: many years ago, fresh out of college, I was chatting with two artist types who both did abstract work. I was already clearly more of a cartoon/illustrator. One of them said, “of course you know that our art is higher than yours,” to which I expressed strong disagreement. Some twenty years later, I was visiting people back home, and this artist happened to get wind of my presence. He found out where I was staying, came over, and apologized.
While snobbery may help in the world of art sales, I have no need for it. The lines are too blurred, and there is too much subjectivity and personal taste involved. Illustration is not a higher art form than graphic design nor is abstract art higher than illustration. Each form has its place in our culture and media.