I used to do this thing where I avoided telling people my story behind my abstract art. I didn’t want to limit their ideas of what to see in the piece, and I didn’t want them to think that there was just one right answer. Then a gallery manager told me that people like to buy a story, so I should tell it. I’m glad she did.
I had a musician friend who didn’t think people should bring their interpretation to a song. He felt that only the songwriter’s original intent was important. Well, of course we are going to bring our experience and interpretation to the piece, be it a painting or a song. That’s what makes it relevant and relatable.
I can’t care about something I can’t relate to.
Then another friend told me that these come from my subconscious. When I paint without attempting to represent something from the physical world, but just lay down the color in a way I feel like arranging it. I don’t always ask a line to look like a branch or a brushstroke to look like a fish. When I’m done with my composition, I stop. My subconscious comes into play again when I’ve put the art supplies away, and the paint is dry. I look at it with purpose. Not with urgency, but with an open mind, and time to spend exploring the marks I’ve made. At first, they may seem random, but like those Magic Eye pictures, something will suddenly appear. Something that flowed from my hand. Something I didn’t know how to draw. Something I didn’t know how not to. I don’t understand how it works. The feeling I get when I look at them is like I am looking at art by someone else. It came from my hand, but it is not contrived.
I wouldn’t have chosen to paint a knight on horseback. The other day, I did a mixed media piece that looks like just that. And I do remember watching a show this past winter about the Knights Templar. At the same time, I was researching my genealogy, and I learned that some of my ancestors were knights. My 17th great grandfather was Thomas Kerr, the first Baron of Ferniehirst. He died in 1484.