“A good image ruined,” “I just don’t get it,” “What’s the point?” Yes, we’ve all said or heard these statements about abstract art, but, like good wine and classical music, once the pleasures are discovered it changes a myriad of perceptions.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no satisfactory answer to explain what makes a good abstract image. The dictionary says: “Thought of as a quality rather than as an object. An art form that does not try to represent an object as the camera would see it.” Though the dictionary makes no mention of feeling and, for me, that's what abstract art is all about. That first inquisitive exploration of colour, light, shape and form. It’s not, standing in a beautiful leafy lane at twilight, more, finding myself in a kaleidoscope wondering where I am and what my mood is. All emotions come in to play but the essential ingredient is intrigue with a large dash of entertainment.
Modern abstract art began around 1810 when Pablo Picasso delved into cubism and then spent years changing and experimenting with his style. Now, while Picasso may have used a camera to help him develop, he certainly didn’t have the advantage of Photoshop.
We, on the other hand, can play around with an image until out heart (and eye) is content.
So come on, give it a go. With Photoshop or Elements it couldn’t be easier, and by the time you’ve finished I’ll bet you are ready to go back to your ‘proper’ images with renewed vigour.
Open any strong fairly simple image with bold colours and make sure it's in 8 bit. Go to: Image>Mode>8 bit and name it Abstract. Then go to: File>Save as>type in Abstract>OK.
Create a layer (Layer>Duplicate layer) then go to: Filter>Distort>Wave, and play with the sliders.
3. You can keep things simple by alternating very high and very low numbers. If you arrive at something that nearly appeals to you try pressing the ‘randomise’ button, but be warned, you can’t go back. If you mess it up just delete the layer, make a fresh one and have another go.
4. Keep in touch with your feelings about the image. I like this result because the Knossos Archaeological site is a painted artificial sort of place, yet there is much to see at second glance and it’s easy to lose your way in the labyrinth of walkways. I get a great deal of pleasure from looking at the abstract, and if anyone else enjoys it, it’s just a bonus.
5. If you are a more organised, straight-line sort of person, you may prefer to put your image into Filter>Stylise>Extrude for a completely different effect. Again, play with the sliders until you get something that pleases you, but take heed, this abstract stuff can become horribly addictive!
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