*Note * None of the works of art depicted from other artists were created with the intent to portray their counterpart in nature I point out. All works of art and photographs are for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect the ideas of the artists or scientific photographers mentioned.

 

“Abstract art isn’t real art because it doesn’t look real. Nothing in the real world is abstract, and abstract art is easier than realism.” I’ve heard many refrains similar to this throughout the years. I paint mostly abstract works and words like this do not offend me, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. My only challenge or question would be, well have you ever thought of abstraction as realism or impressionism? What do I mean?

I believe and propagate the idea that what we perceive as abstract can sometimes instead be “real life things” in an impressionistic state. What do I mean?

 

First, let’s parse out impressionism just so we are all on the same page. Here is Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition of Impressionism: “a theory or practice in painting especially among French painters of about 1870 of depicting the natural appearances of objects by means of dabs or strokes of primary unmixed colors in order to simulate actual reflected light and color”

 

Here is an example of Impressionism by Claude Monet. The first piece is Monet’s impressionistic painting of the waterlilies in his backyard. Below that is a photograph of his waterlilies I took this past summer. His work is not hyper-realistic, it doesn’t look exactly like real life, it is looser, more vivid, and focused on color and light.

ChristineOlmstead_monetLillies

Christine_Olmstead_Monet_Water_Lillies

Now here are some pieces that are considered abstract, by some of my friends who are artists. This first piece is by my friend Ann Marie Coolick and when she paints in this style it always reminds me of vegetable cell structure in an Impressionistic form.

Photo by Ann Marie Coolick

 

Onion cell under a microscope photo by Saurabh Garg

 

Here is another picture I took at the beach last week and the way the sand was encrusted on the shore, it reminded me of some of my own abstract paintings.

Christine_Olmstead_Abstract_Impressionism2

Christine_Olmstead_Abstract_Impressionism

There are so many thousands of examples of abstract art that have reminded me of something in the real world, I’m sure you sensed the same thing. What if what we call “abstract art” was actually impressionist art of normal every day, beautiful things that most people can’t see or don’t notice? I very often think it is.

 

When people don’t appreciate abstraction, that is fine, and I understand, but it also makes me think that they have a hard time appreciating the little things. They probably don’t enjoy color for color’s sake. They probably don’t celebrate light and its reflection. They probably don’t look at the cell structure of an onion and see something beautiful that needs to be celebrated. Maybe I over celebrate and get too excited about all the small beauty around me, but I think that is one of the most important parts of life. Celebrating beauty around us. Praising God for the color, beauty, and light He infused into the world. A celebration a day keeps the bad vibes away.