Abstract is a wonderful word
Abstract is a wonderful word because it has many different subtle meanings. It can be a verb, a noun or an adjective.
As an adjective, it can indicate something that is not tangible, not a real concrete object. So in that sense all art is abstract – which gives us a lot of leeway. And as we get into this course we will look at all the different kinds of abstraction we can use in art. Art that is purely abstract is that which is based on formal considerations only (the arrangement or composition of the basic elements). However, it is very hard for human beings to look at something and not want to attach meaning to it.
We are actually abstracting each time we try to portray something, for we always minimize the unimportant and exaggerate that which captures or attention the most. And, as well as the intention of the artist, there’s always the viewer: their interests, their memories, their emphases.
I think, therefore that a work of art should be deemed representational only when the artist’s main intention is to make a clear representation of what they see: whether a landscape, a house, a person, an animal, a tiled floor…whatever. This is similar to photography (though of course there are abstract photographers too!).
There is much to learn about Abstract in the quilt world and Elizabeth Barton will surely head you in the right direction with her online workshop "Abstract Art for Quiltmakers". Here is a short video showing some of the abstract quilts students have made in this workshop.
About Abstract Art for Quiltmakers Workshop: This class is stuffed with exercises for designing many different kinds of abstract quilts… plus a great introduction to the wonderful abstract paintings of female painters so often overlooked. You will end up with enough designs for a whole year of quiltmaking! Read more....