Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have been thinking about the example I used in my post a couple of days ago when I was talking about my own fussiness about certain details of my and other people's art. I said it bothered me to see trees that taper the wrong direction. Well, sometimes I make these rash statements and then later I wonder if I even really believe what I said. Kristin left a really great comment saying that what bugs her is when art is done without intention. Yes, I think she really nailed what I was getting at. If you missed her comment I recommend going back and reading it. Jarring visual notes in a piece of art can work when there is intention. And I'm sure I would find a painting of fat-at-the-top trees intriguing, if intentional and part of a pattern of distortion that the artist was exploring. It is when the thing is supposed to represent a form and misses because the artist just wasn't very observant or mindful that the jarring effect lets the rest of the work down.

Well, this is, of course, just me rambling and wondering and not directed at anyone in particular. I googled "abstract trees" to see what I would find. Most of them were tapered in a naturalistic way. A couple weren't and looked unintentional to me. But, wow, what great trees I saw! Here are a few favorites. Click on the picture to see the sites I nabbed them from.

So, now I need to get back to my studio and work on a tree for that Baños quilt, and then start on my next 12 x 12 which is probably going to involve some trees. I better not screw it up. I'd probably never live it down.


  1. I love all of these tree pieces.

    I am a bit of an outsider when it comes to art terms. I find the word intention, as you and Kristin have used it, to be a bit pretentious. Just what does that mean? The dictionary gives one definition as a determination to act in a certain way. Is that what you mean? One artist smothers her piece with beads and stitching and embellishments. Another carefully places embellishments that give a special meaning to the piece. Didn't they both have intention - all be it different?

    Just wondering! And being a pest.

  2. OK! I should have read Kristin's comment before I mouthed off. Her explanation makes sense to me. (I think) LOL

  3. Terry, I enjoy your thought process about these ideas. I'm not troubled by the use of the concept of "intention" (and personally don't find it pretentious at all). I take Kristin's comment and your response as trying to identify the tipping point between something seeming coherent and/or visually successful, and something that seems just OFF and not quite right. It's quite interesting, when one sees a piece of work that is somehow jarring or just doesn't work, to think about WHY it doesn't work. Of course, the "doesn't work" reaction is totally subjective. But I applaud your trying to understand and define what it is that causes that reaction in you.

    When an artist presents something that isn't wholly representational, it does invite the question: Is this pushing a boundary? Is this an effort to push a boundary that doesn't go far enough so it just looks like bad technique?

    All of the abstract tree examples you posted are gorgeous.