What Is Abstract Conceptualism?

Is there anything between representational art and non-objective art?  Yes, it is called abstract conceptualism. Most people paint nouns: person, place, or thing. But an idea is a noun as well. However, non-material ideas are not often painted, which is something I’d like to change. Painting non-material or unseen ideas is what abstract conceptualism is all about. Doing this type of abstract art is not only freeing, but accesses depths that no other art forms I know does. It that way, I find working this way to be both healing and satisfying.

Above is my classic example for abstract conceptualism. I set out to paint the idea, “confidence.” What would depict that the best? Obviously, there are many ways of painting it, all of which could convey the idea as well. But the abstract conceptualistic process is very different than doodling a stream of consciousness non-objective work and then naming it “confidence” afterwards. There is a lot more analysis and conscious thought involved in abstract conceptualism.

If you decided to paint the concept of “anger,” what would it look like? Would it be more healthy to try to express that well artistically, than in some other way? Would painting “peace” be a much different experience? How would it look different?Where non-objective, abstract expressionism just lets whatever you are feeling rip on the canvas unexamined, abstract conceptualism strives more to dispassionately communicate concepts.

I asked myself, how would I paint the month of July? See the first painting below for the answer I came up with. I strove to capture the relaxed feeling of that time of year, with its blue hydrangeas, starry nights, fireflies, bubbles, pools, marshmallows, and floating, unhurried calm. To someone else, July might be searing heat or oppressive humidity, and their painting would be very different. Through abstract conceptualism, we could come to understand each other better, and appreciate our differences more objectively.

I find doing a work of abstract conceptualism to be very centering– much more than the process of creating representational or non-objective art, although I enjoy that as well.  There is more there to ponder and think about when painting an abstract conceptualist piece, with a whole vast menu of concepts to explore. You can see in this post some of the ones I have done, having chosen these topics fairly randomly.

We are surrounded by non-material ideas that deserve to be objectified, shared, and understood. Think of sounds, emotions, indwelling qualities and attributes, unseen forces, times of the day or year. What about painting adjectives, or verbs, poems, or processes? The possibilities are endless, and as yet very unexplored in the art world.

I would like to promote abstract conceptualism, for I believe that the mixture of metaphysical abstract thought required, together with the process of objectifying those non-material thoughts in a way they can be shared with others, is a very healing process both for the artist and the viewer. It is something I’d love to see more people benefit from.

Check out in this post some of my abstract conceptualist artwork, and give some a try yourself as well!