Abstract painting: How to read it. II

Hi There..

Last month, I discussed the first few steps on how to read abstract painting. Here are the last few tips:

A balance of form and colour

Since the initial stage of contact (a representational element) is disposed off in abstract painting, you will find yourself confronted by balance of colour and form. If there is balance of colour and form, the relationship between elements becomes clearer. Then composition which can be lost through the potency of the subject may emerge. Here the onlooker will be undisturbed; and he is taken into a cool world of ideas where harmony reigns supreme.

Participate with the artist

One can only approach this understanding by participating with the artist. This is because on one hand, the artist gives a totality of himself and his own interpretation of the world around him (inner meaning). The spectator on the other hand, only accepts the facets of this interpretation through the facet of his personality. This constitutes a meeting point between them.

It is true that understanding and appreciating abstraction demands great intellectual efforts, i.e. meeting the artist half way, going intellectually and consciously towards him. In language, abstraction means departure from the concrete, and in art, it denotes abandoning the conventional.

Abstract quality has always existed in art. The abstract quality of a painting is when all the pictoral elements such as composition, colour etc, can be decomposed into absolutes (angles, squares circles etc) and are subordinated to the harmony of the whole composition.

Quality assessment of abstract art must therefore, be judged through the harmonious balance of elements with each other, and so also the total effects. It is also important to understand that every picture is a combination of varying degrees of emotion and intellectual ideas subordinated to a central feeling.

See you next time

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in arts and painting


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A Poem For Grandpa

Look there, at the starry night, you said to me
Each star twinkles, telling you of its existence
Hanging farther up the moon, alive and well;

Look at that straw; you pointed to the barn
It grows fresh, green, slim grass out of it
Continuity, you say, is life’s incorruptible nature
And a constancy no man would dare question

So life is good, my boy
You must continue thriving in its course
Never you give up until you change the world
Make choices, make peace, make compromises
Make your world a heaven.

I held on to your words; and to life; how happy.
I made choices, I made peace, I compromised
I gaze at the stars and ignored the moon
The straw sounded silly, yet, I respected it

But this moment changed everything
Here am I standing by your grave, in silence
The life you cherished has made you old and weak
That life you cherished has eased itself out of you
And left you to rot and turn to earth.

Should I cry
Should I not
Should I be angry, pleased, indifferent
Should I not
Should I end my life and taste death as you did
Should I not

So I turned on to Life
But Isn’t it too selfish
That life defied all the rigours of our time
And the time past; still, invisible and silent
Yet, make us all old and weak and die; and decay
Holding on to ticking clocks on our walls and wrists

Isn’t it so unfair
That it makes the fool out of us
Watching with calm, our pathetic lives move swiftly
While it smiles whenever we think it is moving fast against us.

Isn’t it all clear
That the four seasons never increased
Reduced or change in the nature of each
And the seas remain black, blue and red
Not even yellow, purple or pink

Isn’t it curious,
That the sun never ceases to shine and rise
Never it hovers only between the north and south
Look at the stars, are they sparkling green and red
Like the neon lights in down town Manhattan

What has life to offer me before I join you
A heart beat, a breath, some sleep, sun, stars
No valour goes there
The valour I need comes from me
I must move on.

And while you rest your soul in the afterlife
I’ll keep making choices and compromises
For peace, I won’t promise that
If I don’t fight with others, I’ll fight within me
I need the valour. Peace comes after one has it.

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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Abstract Painting; How to Read It

Crazy Crazy!! 
If there was anything in art people find so incomprehensive and unconvincing, that would be abstract art. Abstract paintings, to those that find it hard to stretch their intellects, seemed meaningless. And in a country like Nigeria where art appreciation is at minimum, abstraction was madness.
On an exhibition, I saw an outrageous comment written by a medical student about an abstract paintings. He suggested that artists should undergo a ‘psych’ evaluation; and why? Simply because most of the paintings  were ‘meaningless’. I thought at first the individual was been unfair and unkind, but then I carried out a simple test; I chose a painting from the exhibits and placed it side by side with the word ‘meaningless’. Then I asked some onlookers whether they could make a meaning out of it. To my amusement, most of them looked at it for a moment and simply said ’you tell me’. So I rested my case
The Idea: bstract art is just a play of shapes.
In abstraction, nature is expressed by pictoral absolutes such as cubes, spheres, spirals, and triangles etc, achieved by composing those absolutes into a harmonious whole. To simplify it further, it is concerned with the essence of outer appearance of things and their rearrangement into forms and planes so as to fit in some general pattern. Understanding abstract art, assessment of its qualities as well as appreciating it thereby deriving pleasure from it have some mechanisms.
There are indeed some difficulties in understanding abstract art. But here is a list of some tips I’d like you to consider:
  1. Abstract art has a subject; you should know that.
  2. Know that A balance of form and colour makes abstactions pleasing to look at. 
  3. Participate with the artist helps a lot.

Now lets take a look at these points in turn.

Abstract art has a subject; No?
Just like representational art, abstract art also has a subject, but it is one that is not representational i.e. it may not take the pretext of object familiar to us, such as a tree, a human face or an animal. However, the abstract subject is the balance between these absolutes that exists only in our intellect; because the artist have eliminated the first line of contact between his artistic personality and the onlooker i.e. a representational element. So it is important to understand that the subject in an abstract painting is only a means for display of colour and form.
So what’s the next thing to consider after the Subject? Mind you, it’s still difficult to read it since the initial stage of contact (a representational element) is disposed off in abstract painting. we’ll talk about that next week. 
See ya
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in arts and painting



Hi there.

Last time, I talked about the first few steps in appreciating painting. I said the unlooker should consider the following simple tips:

That Painting is a product of inner reality; and he should understand that there exixts a difference between the Act of creation and understanding.

Now, the next thing to do is to build the association further by observing Pictoral elements that make up the pictire he’s looking at.

  • Observe the pictoral element

Next is to build the association further by observing all the elements that up the picture. Understanding them will help one know how a picture is drawn and put together. In fact, pictoral elements analysis is put upfront in making art judgments and criticisms. Pictoral elements are many but their application depends on the artists’ inner feeling and nature of painting. Some of them are as follows;

The Subject.

This is the medium through which the artist wishes to exteriorize a concept. Every painting has a subject, and while a subject is a mean of transmission for the artist, it is for the spectator, a form of reception. Subjects may be representational i.e. may take the pretext of an object familiar to us such as a human being, an animal etc, or non representational i.e. takes the pretext of an unfamiliar objects such as spirals, cubes, etc. for example, in his recent canvases, Joe Musa, D.G. of National Art Council Lagos, studied women and thus, used them as media to exteriorize a concept. 

Centre of interest

This is the area in the painting where the artist tries to attract your attention. It is the part of the picture where the principal action takes place. One of Joe Musa’s paintings titled ‘from the market’ portrays a woman (subject) coming from the market with a basket containing some food stuff. That constituted the centre of interest.


This is the most important task of a painter and the ability to accomplish this, gives both the artist and the onlooker, more than any other quality, a sense of fulfillment and well being. This simply means arranging all elements of design; the figures or object, in a manner which makes the picture a harmonious and satisfactorily whole. This gives a certain feeling to the onlookers e.g. the classical atmosphere of a landscape, romantic atmosphere of still life, etc.

Brush work

This is the manner which the artist applies the paint on the canvass. It is determined by the rhythmic movements of the artists’ hands using the brush. Some brush works may be light which suggests softness, while others may be heavy with heavy impasto suggesting weight or solidity. Every artist has his own style of brush work. It is like handwriting that differs with individuals.

Volume and masses

These refer to visual effects of properties these terms indicate in nature. For example, a green tree that forms a mass in the sky is a ‘mass of green’. The volume of the same tree is the ‘bulk’ of the tree.

Value distribution

This is the term used to describe the relation of different part of the picture to the distribution of light. The distribution doesn’t take the actual colour into consideration, but its intensity.

Other pictoral elements include atmosphere, perspective solidity etc.

It is also important to understand that every picture is a combination of varying degrees of emotion and intellectual ideas subordinated to a central feeling. So pay a visit to an art gallery today and experience the pleasure, warmth and emotion packed in paintings. Buy a painting today and add an incredible beauty and warmth to your home or office.

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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Every day, thousand of artworks are displayed worldwide and hundreds of art lovers patronise exhibitions and art galleries to collect them.

But how do we look at a painting and see something beyond just a picture. Bellow are few steps on how to understand and appreciate painting.

Painting; a product of inner reality.

There is need for every spectator to understand that art, like religion deals with inner reality; the artist expresses the inside of life and not the outside. Inner reality means what the artist wishes to exteriorize or present to the world.
Therefore, every work of art is a product of the artists’ thinking and he expresses it in a manner he so wishes.

Understanding inner reality throws light into understanding the concept of picture making. A quick grasp of inner reality depends on artistic intuition or a very long experience of looking at pictures, and many often than not, on both

Act of creation and understanding

There exists a great difference between the act of creation and the act of understanding or appreciation. The difference lies in the fact that, on one hand, the artist gives a totality of himself and his own interpretation of the world around him (inner meaning). The spectator on the other hand, only accepts the facets of this interpretation through the facet of the artists personality. This constitutes a meeting point between them.

Spectators are first attached to pictures because it stirs a certain feeling in them; maybe because of pleasurable association, or because the picture appeals to their imagination (intellect). This association between you and the artist constitutes the bases of art appreciation.

But how can you build the association further? This is done by observing the Pictorial Elements. We will be looking into that next week.


Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Romantic Fiction; Now a pain in the ass for Women?


Remember the health warning slogan of smoking which says ‘Smokers are Liable to Die Young’; well, Psychologists in the UK think the same should be applied to M&B’s Romantic fiction. According to them, ‘Romantic fiction should also come with a health warning!’

Romantic fiction has established an enviable position in the world of writing today. Millions of dollars are generated from the sale of such books per year; which means the population of readers is rising worldwide. Well; this is something to be proud of as far as the writers of such books are concerned, because not only does this give them the encouragement to write, it also makes the stinking rich.

But the implication of such books exhibits its dreadful self on the part of the readers.

It’s true, readers of such books (Nigerian women inclusive) derive satisfactory entertainment as well as little bit of experience from the ‘lessons’ therein; but it’s also true that they get all psyched up with those experiences that it affects their lives negatively.

Romantic scenes fictionalize in the books turn most readers into day dreamers. Women (who make up the 90% bulk of readers) are the ones especially affected by this.

Most of the writers of such books are women, who through experience of the ‘womanhood’ know the exact manner and ‘feeling’ to dexterously demonstrate those scenes to the satisfaction of their folks thus, making it look and sound the way it should be or acceptable to readers.

For example, the fictionalized men in those books mostly have the ‘Macho’ features- tall, dark, muscular, handsome, rich, confident, talented and many others. When describing romantic scenes, they are experts in making it sound the way most women want to be treated; and so also the sex scenes.

The implication of the above is psychological.

Women get very disappointed in their men who don’t read those books and consequently, don’t treat them the ‘way they should’ be treated as gospled in those books.

Women don’t get their romantic and sexual fantasies satisfied by their men and it transforms the confidence they have on men to disappointment; hence, become mad that some go and seek satisfaction elsewhere.

Dr Susan Quillan, a UK based psychologist revealed that majority of women coming in for therapy in the past years have shown to be victims of romantic fiction particularly M&B’s.

Too much reading and believing in M&B’s romantic fiction have turned women into psychos, causing trouble for themselves, their men and bringing the trouble to psychologists like Susan to help them work out the issues.

Susan believes ‘it’s time to drop fantasy and pick up reality’ if women want to have a peaceful romantic lives with their men. It’s time to accept the imperfections of their men and try to see what they could do to make them a little more than what they are romantic

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Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Uncategorized


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