Saturday, February 16, 2013

abstraction and the virtue of letting go

inner city, acrylics on canvas, 30x40" ©2013 priya vadhyar
For the last few months I have been taking classes at The Drawing Studio. The one that began late in October was called Xtreme Painting: Looking for Dragon Smoke, an abstracts-in-acrylics class taught by Josh Goldberg. Taught against the backdrop of Eastern philosophy, Xtreme Painting looks at the act of painting and the expression of a non-representational language.

On the first day of class, Josh asked us to stand in front of our fresh canvases without a plan and empty of thought. As we began, he asked us to be spontaneous, and let go of the idea of control. Over the weeks, we were encouraged to be unattached and non-judgmental. We were to look at the marks objectively and act according to what the painting required. Looking critically at the composition, the colour and the direction of brush strokes, while keeping the painting fresh were just some of the lessons we learned with each session. We were to be alert to accidents/ opportunities that arise, and look for clues that might suggest the next move. Over the next eight weeks, we learned to trust ourselves, see our work and let our inner abstraction find expression.

What was interesting was learning to be completely present in the act of painting without the distractions of the ego, judgement and past/future considerations. Complete involvement in any process can be a tough hill to climb if we are too eager to reach. And yet that's exactly what's required for true expression.

To learn more about this way of painting I'm now taking the second part of this class (Xtreme Painting: Riding the Dragon). Inner City is one of the paintings I've completed.