Abstraction in the service of expression?

There’s a lot of stuff going through my head, right now.

First off, I found a post over at D.Katie Powell Art related to copyleft.  I did click through some of the links and found Gwenn Seemel’s site.  She provides an e-book, free to read, advocating the use of Creative Commons and other alternatives to copyright (for those who are interested).

In my case, this has been something to note — both because of the acknowledgment of the difficulty of enforcing copyright for a non-corporate entity, and the relatively straightforward means of ensuring that all people (including myself) retain the right to view and use the materials I’ve collected, into the future.

Creative Commons License
Unknown flower: Red by paintedstone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

That might sound strange, coming from me.  Somewhere in the backlog of my posts, I’ve mentioned how at times harrowing it can feel to let others see what I have seen — in one way or another.  Photography is one way to capture part of this.  Painting and drawing are other ways, which — at least in my hands — seem to be able to let more of myself through.

While photography can give a literal record of where I have been at one time, painting and drawing can let the viewer in on what that meant, to me.  I’m able to employ abstraction, because — for one thing — I can’t copy every detail, or I would be very frustrated.  But those abstractions (paying attention to what is not said) might just point to what is important in the image, and that can start a conversation with the viewer (at times, but not always, myself).

I still have a long way to go with painting and drawing (not to mention photography), especially when it comes to getting out of my own way.  Like I passed up a weird little ball-thing (ball-tipped spikes) growing off of an ivy plant at the State Fair, because “I’m not at the place I’m supposed to take pictures, yet!”  So now that little ball-thing is in my memory, but I have no photo record.  Given that one of my prime motivations with art, is seeing and appreciating the little things in life…well, yeah.

I don’t think that the learning process ever really ends where it comes to art, though.  I guess I can say that the skill is there, but I’m also, at this point, a little hampered by fear.  Skill blocked by fear produces nothing.  Pushing myself to practice (and knowing I’m not alone) is probably the only thing that will ride me past or through the fear to develop the skill further.

What do I have to be afraid of, you ask?  Being intimate with the rest of the world.

Both writing and art deal in showing bits of the inside of myself to the world, and that can be difficult if and when there is a fear of judgment.  As I may have said, I haven’t had the easiest life.  It’s gotten better in my adult years, but preteen years through what might be thought of as my young adulthood, were hell.  I’m still trying to find my way to become a fully independent, adult person:  but seriously, 34 is nothing like 25.

It is fairly evident, though…that art is a means of expression which can cut through barriers.  If I am painting about the beauty possible in plants, and I am attracted to plant subjects because of their beauty combined with their dual sex roles, and their unquestioned belonging in nature…that adds another layer to the story.

And it’s possible that on some level, a viewer might be able to understand this.  (I’ve learned that my own brain perceives more than I expect.)  What comes up is person-to-person communication without the intermediary of words — bypassing politics and logical fallacies and propaganda to assert the sheer power of life.

Art is a more direct means to understanding, in my view, than words are.

It’s also closer to being a friend to me than fiction; as it seems to circumvent the slippery-slope logical fallacies I have a tendency to fall into in my fiction, and leaves things open to ambiguity — and in their ambiguity, closer to my own experience.  (Is the hope that if you see what I see, that you will understand what I feel?)

What is also clear, though, is that bringing myself to the world — and sharing parts of myself with it — is probably key to the resonance of my work.  I haven’t shared anywhere near all of it, here; some things I shared early on, but not the final piece.  Like this:

Creative Commons License
Rain by paintedstone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I’m making an effort — really, an effort — to share some of the things I’ve considered precious, with my readers.  Granted that the “less precious” stuff is easier to share.  😉  I just have to push myself, because if I don’t, the alternative may well be me in a house with a bunch of drawings and paintings that no one has ever seen.  Producing furiously, but unknown, like a modern-day Dickinson.  And if no one will ever see them, does this negate the reason for making them?

Why do I make art?

(Other than the fact that it keeps me going?  Why does it keep me going?  Because I’m no longer being silent?)

Maybe I just have a tension here between wanting to express myself, and being afraid to express myself.

That seems like the likeliest option.


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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