It also has a very beneficial training aspect for all artists, who would like to loosen up their paintings. Not everybody likes painting so-called loose paintings but since The early 1800's and the maturing of artists like Turner and then the impressionists, modern art and indeed abstract art has been developing.
Many leisure painters find that this is very difficult. The difficulty arises because these painters need to identify with the images they are copying. I am drawing a horse, a tree , a flower, etc. They cannot let go and just paint for the sake of it. I would like to offer an exercise which is great fun and very useful to aid with the process of loosening-up.
Because many art schools try to teach this under the banner of creativity and originality, at the expense of drawing skills and it has created a generation of artists who do not fully understand or possess the academic skills of their predecessors. But that it is another, very big question. I do not intend to address that here.
For now, assume that it is a good thing for an artist to be able to let themself go when painting, if even just for relaxing and fun. This is a way of allowing yourself to be free of constraints when painting, almost!
CREATING AN ABSTRACT FROM RANDOM MARKS
I came across this technique in a book by Betsy Dillard Stroud called The Artist's Muse, ISBN 978-1-58180-875-9 and tried it out with my art group last night. This is the result.
I asked my colleagues (there were 11 of us present) to make some random marks on a sheet of paper, offering a choice of coloured pastel pencils and suggesting they could draw lines, shapes or squiggles, but giving no further instructions. I did tell them I was going to create an abstract based on their collective marks. At first some of them were a little tentative and I could see the beginning of a landscape, for instance the first person drew an horizon. I then offered them a second opportunity, which was taken by some of the early contributors as they could now see what everybody else had done and they became more confident.
You can see an idea of what these marks looked like, but as I forgot to take a picture these were made by me tracing over the originals after I had started to paint.
This is the stage at which I did that tracing. I had started to fill the white paper with primary colours and build up the first stage of the painting.
This image shows the end of that first stage. By now I had extended some of the lines and blocked in some of the shapes which were introduced by this. I also extended the colour scheme, adding some secondary colours to offer more choices and create what I hoped was a pleasing image.
The final stage is shown here again , I had by now added some texturing, more smaller shapes and cross hatching to add detail and interest to the painting. Even if you do not like abstract painting, and I am not a great fan of this "free art" you have to admit it has a little of the style of Kandinsky, with a tiny reference to Miro. And it has very bright colours.
I enjoyed the evening, and have arranged with some of the group for us all to have a go in a couple of weeks. We shall each start with a clean sheet of paper and pass it around the group for everyone to add marks to everyone else's paper. When you get your own paper back, then you we shall all start to create an abstract "masterpiece". I can't wait to see how everyone gets on.
Of course, you can always make your own random marks you do not really need a crowd of people. Hopefully I can let you know how we get on with our abstract exercise.