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19. Abstract Composition... whaaaaaaat?

Updated: Mar 31

In the past: 

Al gifted me an online class with UK art tutor Sally Hirst.  The 6-weeks of “Confident Composition” overlapped with my late January brain surgery, but I wanted this learning so much that I went ahead and just did them both! 

With art, I have known what my eye likes but I haven’t known why – and that started to feel problematic. It’s not that I was looking for rules but rather explanations about options. 

In the present:

Now? I want to simplify. For over a year, while my vision was double, there was too much going on! During my eye breaks behind a sleep mask, I watched shapes morphing and moving, vibrating, with flashes of lights coming in and out of my view. These hours started a shift in how I was thinking about the concept of “space” between objects and how it’s not Nothing; in fact, it’s a key Something. So while my brain surgery went well and my vision is fixed now, I still crave more visual simplicity and purposeful use of space.


Before my class, I had been making large gelli prints and then finding pieces that interested me and cutting them into 5x5” squares. I figured, after the Sally Hirst learning, I’d have ideas for how I might use them– and I do.

Course exercises:

Here are two compositions that I made in class as I played in the final weeks, utilizing different concepts and their combinations.

I knew as I moved pieces around that these compositions were going in the direction that I wanted to explore but, as I’ve been continuing on, I’ve also re-engaged with my gelli print papers. My technique question has changed from “how can I better use composition design elements” to “how can I maintain effective composition but add rich visual textures”.... And I think some time will be required to find that answer. 

I’m going to make a lot that don’t work as I figure out what does. And that feels ok. I’m not looking to adopt someone else’s style, just allow my own to evolve. 

Here are two collages that I’ve created this week, utilizing new-to-me compositional elements but with old collage papers. I think you’ll see the change from what’s above.


I’ll keep exploring with my freshly fixed up eyes to find the balance between this new learning and my old papers. 

As a project: I’m mounting these small collages on deep 5x5” wooden cradles with a dark painted band at the top. I’m envisioning that, beyond a singleton brightening a small space, they could be combined into different groupings and either go on a wall or stand on a bookshelf. I’m not sure. Rather than worrying too much about what will happen to them “eventually,” I’m just focused right now on enjoying the creative process. Trying this & trying that. Finding new spaces in old impulses. 

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