Love is Abstract

“What’s your favorite part about painting?”

As an oil painting student of Stephen S. Sawyer I like to ask these sorts of questions, because I can always count on a bit of wisdom beyond how to paint.

As he continues to demonstrate exactly how to paint fabric he tells me it is a couple of things, and it depends on the painting.

“My favorite part of a portrait is when it looks like the person you are painting, when you can really see that it is them.”

I would have to agree, painting a portrait is no easy feat. However, if carefully executed, somehow a well painted portrait captures so much more of a person than a photograph. 

He speaks again, “When it is an abstract, that’s just what I love.”

Steve goes on, as he brilliantly executes the wrinkles in the sheets I had been struggling to paint before his attention had turned to me.  “Abstracts are like painting a dream.  There is truth in dreams.  Whether they express fear or love or anger, whatever the dream may be, there is a truth in it.  Our dreams teach us something, maybe something God is showing us, they are honest.”

“I feel that with an abstract painting, I discover the painting.  Then, even if I don’t understand the fullness of its meaning, there is something honest about it.  It is there to teach me something.”

His statement seemed almost an Ode to Michelangelo who believed that the sculpture he was carving was already in the marble, he just brought it out.  Steve discovers the abstract painting.

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Table of Contents 

You can see it in his work, even while abstract the piece is representative of something, and it is finished and polished. Yet, it leaves you looking to discover exactly what it all means, yet, it makes sense.

It is fascinating for me to know that for someone known for his Christian Art, he most enjoys the subtle lessons God gives him in his moments discovering an abstract painting.


Posted on July 11, 2016 .