Another Busy Day

I hope everyone had a great holiday!

I was pretty busy with family stuff, but had some time to think about the portrait I am working on. I posted an update yesterday. Between then and now, I thought of more information to add to it.

Is this how abstract art is done?

I was just playing around with a grid, as inspired by the book (actually a catalog of a retrospective exhibition) of Miró’s work. For some reason, I thought of making a portrait of my older brother Michael, who has had a profound influence on my life. Mike is autistic, profoundly retarded and non-verbal.

I am sure the stimuli that led me to think of changing my frivolous playing of coloring in the shapes made by the grid were the triangular shapes in the center of the composition. I colored them blue, but there was a spot that reminded me of an eye. Mike’s eyes are not aligned properly, and when I saw him in November, his right eye was almost totally cateracted over.

I had to really think hard about the best way to use the shapes to represent parts of my brother’s face. Right now, I see three faces. The first is a full face view, with the central blue triangles representing Mike’s eyes. The second is a partial face, using the blue triangle with the central blue dot as one eye; the chin is at the lower right of the paper. The third face uses the other blue triangle, with the chin and mouth at the lower left.

I see other faces also. It is like the old game of camouflage, wherein one can choose different outlines to make up the desired image.


I used symbols in other paintings to represent sensory stimuli. This was helpful to illustrate the phenomenon of synesthesia, where one sense is activated by a stimulus usually reserved for another sensory organ. For instance, a synesthete might see a color and, in addition to seeing that color, will hear a note of a certain frequency.

I used these symbols to fill some of the shapes; in the lower left, I used letters to spell out sounds that Mike used to make.

The triangular set of shapes at the upper left, is an intrusion; the red spots are reminiscent of the splatter painting I did recently.

There is just so much to think about, being constrained to the shapes that resulted from my drawing the grid. Perhaps the shapes I have not filled in, should not be filled in. Will an idea occur to me if I let the work sit for a day or two?

Is this still a work in progress? How does one decide when one is finished? I don’t think this work is done yet, but I don’t want to over work it.

If you are an abstract artist, I am interested in the process you use. Do you think a lot about your subject; do you just paint without thinking; somewhere in between? I would appreciate hearing from you.

Abstract Watercolor Portrait 12-25-13

Portraits of Mike (unfinished ?) 5″x7″ Hot Pressed 140# Watercolor Paper


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