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Abstract Painting Artist Method, February 2017.

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“From time to time in our discussions we have reminded the reader that the first importance of a painting is not the accuracy with which it reproduces the look of the subject being painted,” wrote, in 1958, the acclaimed Art Director and Critic for the New York Times, John Canaday.

Andrew Warhola, better known as Andy Warhol would paint the Campbell’s Soup Cans four years later in 1962. Gerhard Richter was behind the iron curtain in East Berlin working on commissions for the then state of East Germany before escaping to west Germany in 1961. Henri Matisse died 4 years earlier in 1954 and Paul Jackson Pollock 2 years earlier in 1956. The art world was building history quickly. A lot of history quickly.

Canaday, in reference to Marin’s “Singer Building” continues, “By the time we reach a picture like Marin’s Singer Building we find abstract elements dominating realistic ones. In the lower half Marin expressed the noise, the movement, the excitement and confusion of the city by a composition of slashing angles, lines, and colors that only half resembled the actual objects involved. In this painting we must recognize and accept abstraction to enjoy the picture at all. The artist seems to say that if a subject can be expressed through angles, lines, shapes, colors, arrangement, and other abstract elements, there is no reason why he has to depend any longer on even semi-photographic reality. Is there then any reason to give us any recognizable images at all? Perhaps abstract elements alone can tell the story. To carry the argument to its logical conclusion, why is it necessary even to have a subject? Why not just have forms, colors, and arrangements by themselves, for their own sake?”

“Now let us say immediately that though this argument sounds logical, it does not necessarily hold true when applied at its extreme limit. It is quite possible that the modern abstract artist is defeating himself when he insists that recognizable images are of no importance in painting and should be left to the camera or (he might say) to those artists without enough creative imagination to get away from painting like a kind of camera. This is the basic dispute of “modern art”.


Marin’s “Singer Building The Studio” by Pablo Picasso Vermeer’s “The Artist in His Studio”

In 1958 Steven Paul Jobs was 3 and living in San Francisco.

Photorealism was still a long, tedious and deliberate process done with film or artist materials. Digital photography was not yet imagined.


Canaday goes on to examine some modern abstractions, “The Studio” by Pablo Picasso, and compare them to old masters, Vermeer’s “The Artist in His Studio”, or “traditional painters who at first glance appear to be working almost photographically.” His comparison argues that every great painting has a great abstract design. For anyone that has seen Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” in person and up lose that argument is very true.

The paintings in this Artist Method collection reach to a much different source than imagination and photographic abstraction. Each painting rests on the shoulders of past masters and history. To repeat history is pointless. To innovate and create something new and original based on history; that is the job.
The paintings break new ground in the methodology by pulling the work from the subconscious and then giving it representational imagination. So in reversing the process of abstracting forms from a pre-determined subject the burden of form and subject is assumed only when the painting starts to have meaning simultaneously in the imagination and on canvas.

From that point the imagination guides the completion of the painting.

This artist method is almost like the Zen instruction of “not thinking” and having form and subject emerge. It becomes something of meaning when it is consciously recognized.


Spirits” by Maciek Peter Kozlowski, 2011.

The early piece representing this method is called “Spirits”, 48” by 72”, acrylic on canvas, done in 2011 depicting “Spirits” in the forest and marshes of the Dunrobin farm where it was painted. The spirits cannot be seen by the unaware mind, yet like in an X-ray image, they are revealed to always be there. Where did they come from? To say they came from the rational imagination would assume an image was formed in the conscious imagination and then transferred to canvas. That would be very limiting and was not the case. By allowing the subject to emerge on canvas and simultaneously in the imagination, a much more interesting subject is revealed. Where did it come from? Obviously from the mind of the artist, but a mind where the conscious rigour of logical and linear thinking was momentarily pried open and the sub-conscious allowed to flow out.

Now this method does not work every time. Believe me.

The two newer landscape pieces, “Coming Storm”, 30” by 40”, oil on canvas, 2016, and “Coming Storm on the Lake”, 30” by 40”, oil on canvas, 2016 are realizations of the Canadian landscape with an extra dimension. As the Impressionists, and the Group of 7 interpreted the land that was before them, these paintings also interpret the land but with an emotional dimension of how the land is being perceived.
Today the land is not what the Group of 7 saw and the Impressionists saw. In many places the land, water, and air is under siege from irresponsible economic development of the resources it contains. This is the land screaming at us.

“Coming Storm on the Lake" “Coming Storm"


In 1958 Steven Paul Jobs was 3 and living in San Francisco.

There are four more pieces in this collection. They are called: “Red Dragon”, “Greed”, “Monica Dreaming with her Spirit Animals” and "The Man, the Shark, the Lady with the Large Hat, and the Green Boy".


The February 2017 Large Abstracts collection is here.

Maciek Peter Kozlowski

abstract painting artistic tastes Gerhard Richter Maciek Peter Kozlowski oil painting painting Picasso thoughts on art vermeer

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