For the past two nights, I have dreamed fairly intensely about abstract art.

Also, alien telepaths and these warring clans trying to use the telepaths as weapons so the poor fugitive telepaths were all trying to buy telepathy-repressing drugs so that they didn’t get used as some kind of madness-bombs, and I think Spock and Super Mario and my grandmother got involved in some fashion, and there was this swamp and a classroom and a mouse with a third ear with feelers coming out of the top of his head, but we can chalk all that up to the randomness that usually inhabits my brain. The abstract art, however, was recurring.

The reasons are pretty obvious–Friday night, I went out on the gallery crawl with friends, saw some bad art, some good art, some vague art, and some abstract art that I was really rather taken with. I am much more easily impressed by abstract art these days than realism, probably because I am capable of a moderate degree of realism myself. It has to be almost purely abstract, though–impressionistic attempts at figures or what not often leave me absolutely cold, generally because a lot of them are, regrettably, done by people who are not very good at anatomy and using the looseness of impressionism to try and conceal lack of skill. This is not a long term solution, believe me. However, there was some really fascinating solid abstract work that did cool shit with color and texture and I went “Neeeeeeat! How do they do that?”

Friday night, I even dreamed I was watching a tutorial on this particular technique (which was completely nonsensical, involving kneaded wax and oil pastels made of crushed gemstones and giant paper-mache paint sticks, which I’m pretty sure was not the technique, but obviously the fact that I was dreaming about trying to figure out how it was done would indicate that I’d really like to know how it was done.) Some of it was batik on rice paper, which I assume is done with wax or some other form of resist, some of it was just general interesting abstract color stuff. Unfortunately, none of these artists have a web presence significant enough to track down this art online and go “This! Here! How do they DO that?!” so I am simply left with the burning desire–which hits occasionally–to do some really abstract stuff.

Thing is, I haven’t the faintest idea how.

I mean, if there’s something IN the painting, then sure, piece of cake, I start by drawing that and then painting around it and by then I’m on my way. But with something that doesn’t have a thingy in it, I am left just pushing paint around a page until it forms a series of brown blobs, and then going “Dude, what the hell am I even trying to do here?” How do I start? How do I finish? What goes on in the middle?

Painting realism for me is like driving across the country. It’s long, it’s tedious, sometimes you’re stuck, sometimes you have a near miss, sometimes you have to scrap the whole trip, but you still generally have an idea where you’re going, and you have at least dirt roads to get you there. Painting abstractly–for me at least–is like driving cross-country with no roads. So far, I tend to get about ten yards along, take a header into a dry wash, and have to abandon the car. I’ve tried this before, and nothing happens. I just don’t have any idea where I’m going.

But whenever I see really good abstract art, I still get the urge to try, y’know?

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