Growing up in the UK I been fortunate to view many of the great abstract masterpieces of the 20th century including works by Kandinsky and Miro (two of my faves), Mondrian, Rothko and Klee. Abstract art fascinates me. I like the challenge it throws down. I enjoy interpreting the parts and the whole, where right and wrong don’t matter and individual thought and expression is not only accepted but expected.
In my school years, I experimented widely with materials, textures, and colours. I favored more abstract and contemporary painting and subjects, thrilled by exploration. But this all came to an abrupt end when I barely scraped a pass in A’level Art. Devastated falls short of describing how I felt at the time. My paintings, collages and drawings emptied into the wheelie bin and brushes and materials packed away in a crate. I felt like a failure.
Fast forward 25+ years and on impulse I booked into a weekend workshop aptly named ‘Unleashing your Inner Artist’. I was keen to find a way to let go of my inhibitions and a way to be freer and unconstrained. Abramo Papp, our experienced and qualified art tutor guided us through a series of exercises helping us to tap into our intuition rather than planning every stroke.
Using large sheets of Kraft paper we started experimenting with mark making. Abramo suggested we select two colours only and use these with white to create a range of tones. We worked intuitively in large shapes and it was exciting to teardown some of the constraints of approaching a blank canvas.
Halfway through the second day though, I fell in a heap. My constant self-critique backed me into a corner and I was deeply unhappy. I felt like a failure again. Abramo suggested I take a break after the intensity of the morning and come back to my work using a resolving colour.
Stepping away and shifting my attitude did the trick. My mood lifted, a few joyful brushstrokes later and my piece was finished. The weekend workshop was both intensive and exhausting but very worth while for the lessons I learnt along the way.
Water Lilies proudly hangs on my wall at home. It serves as a visual cue to persevere, knowing that lows will be followed by highs, reminding me to see the process and not just focus on the outcome. I'm continuing to try not to let my fear of failure paralyze me, but use it instead as a super-power to challenge my perception of what’s possible.
The Brisbane Institute of Art has a rolling line up of fantastic workshops for beginners and experienced painters: https://brisart.org
Abramo Papp continues to run this workshop and can be contacted on: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abramo-papp/