Your Life & Your Abstract Voice

Episode 192 · October 16th, 2021 · 33 mins 18 secs

About this Episode

How do abstract artists focus on specific ideas in their work? How can personal voice be discovered and followed given the endless possibilities of abstraction? Today we will talk about one path that has proven to be a rich vein of ideas for many abstract artists—that of pulling from their own experiences in life to create a meaningful, personal visual language. Today we’ll talk about ways to access ideas for abstraction from what you know best, your own life.

Many artists, especially beginners with abstraction, tend to be a bit disconnected from personal expression in their work. Maybe it's because they believe that abstraction is always about lofty concepts bigger than any individual, or maybe they consider abstraction to be mainly an intellectual /conceptual exercise, or that it is mainly about process and technique.

All these approaches are satisfying to many abstract artists., but others want a more personal or emotional connection to their work.

if you haven't considered your own experiences, situations, and emotions as pathways to this connection, it may be because you worry that this is too self-involved or somehow self-centered. But there is wisdom in the idea that the more personal a subject is the more universal its potential. Your interpretation of your own experiences can strike a chord with others and thus be more widely meaningful. Work based on your own life and experiences is perfectly valid and is a long tradition in art.

Discovering personal sources for your work is challenging. It requires self-awareness and observation of what moves you and what abstract elements you connect with your experiences. Specific memories of moments and emotions connected with them are most potent, and journaling and sketching can deepen your awareness of these and help you focus.

There is no formula for working abstractly from your own experience, it is by nature individualized and personal. But to realize that your own life is legit subject matter and worthy of your attention is liberating. So go ahead, express your own experiences, be quirky, be open, be a little mysterious, mine your own memories, and feelings.

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Rebecca and her partner Jerry McLaughlin are excited to be launching year two of Cold Wax Academy's membership program, which began in October of 2020. In the coming year, live online learning sessions will feature an entirely new set of topics---beginning with a deep dive into technique and the steps involved in developing a painting. Other topics for year 2 include professional development, abstraction and realism, principles of design, and expanded uses for cold wax medium.

As always, members have access to recordings of all previous sessions including everything from the first year, so it's easy to join anytime. Fall Quarter begins October 6th. Please visit for details about membership levels and to sign up for a year of exciting learning experiences.

Here is what a member named Sandy has to say about her own experience:
"Rebecca and Jerry have presented the most professional, authentic and structured approach to a creative activity I have ever come across. Their selfless sharing of all their knowledge and encouragement is a gift in my life unsurpassed."

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