Abstract art for Abstractions sake?

This weekend I found myself spending a lot of time just staring (studying?) the initial prints from my new series Quantum Elements. I found myself questioning the underlying reason why I am creating this series of abstractions. I know what turned me onto this series in the first place; capturing the visual effects that link back to the crazy world of Quantum Mechanics. Which as been a lot of fun and totally in line with my creative process of experiment/play. One upside of this new series and my experimentation was to re-examine my Memory Pods series with some of the resulting images being included in my exhibition next month. Cool!

For me, this still begs the question; is this new series about creating abstract artwork purely for the sake of abstraction? There are many ways to create abstract artwork, so why this process and these results? I guess I can claim that through this process and investigating the effects of Quantum Mechanics, I can create abstract artwork. Okay, so what? As you may suspect, at least for me, abstract art for abstractions sake may seem a bit shallow.

I suspect that what I am attempting to deal with is that essentially all of my art projects over the past ten years have been based on an underlying concept that I am investigating beyond the purely visual. Roadside Remembrance is about death and the retention of memory, Memory Pods about memory loss and retention, and Gardening For Ordnance investigates the aftermath of war.

So what beyond a colorful abstract representation of the visual effects of Quantum Mechanics am I investigating? What might this artwork represent or be representative of? Can this artwork be a metaphor for something else? Maybe at this stage of the series development that is it; a series of abstract artwork as a result of me investigating nature’s exhibition of Quantum Mechanics.

I can also state that one of the goals of abstract art is to be non-representative, which I think this series is and maybe that might be bothering me as well. As a scientist, to visually investigate particle physics is really interesting as Quantum Mechanics is so whacky and strange. Being a design engineer by training, I find comfort with structure and identifiable objects that have a purpose, similar to my earlier documentary projects. So a bit of internal conflict that I am in the process of dealing with on this series.

Likewise, abstract art engages the imagination; something that makes the viewer wonder and speculate as to what the heck is going on. Thus something visually that is not easy to explain. I suspect that I have accomplished that as well. Hmmmm. I think I have truely ventured into my discomfort zone! Maybe that’s part of my personal puzzle to solve as well.

I suspect that I need to develop an artists statement to help with clarifying my thoughts about this series. Meanwhile, I will continue to develop this series and see where it takes me. Stay tuned, it’s a continuing work in progress.

Final artwork is printed 24 x 48″, archival pigment on Rag Metallic, edition of 5 if you are interested.




Featured artwork, above; LSTa9995 (Quantum Elementscopyright 2021 Douglas Stockdale


Exhibition, Portfolio Reviews & Workshops

January 21 – 24th, 2021; Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP), EXPOSURE WEEKEND, a series of virtual portfolio reviews, and I will be on the team of available portfolio reviewers available that weekend. Sign-ups started December 1st. More information here. You might want to chose me if you would like some feedback on Project Development, Editing, Sequencing your work, Book design & layout and Publication advice.

February 20th – March 20th 2021; Photographs’s Eye gallery, Escondido, CA, a solo exhibition of my Memory Pods series (lens-based photography). Exhibition reception February 20th, 3-7pm. NEW: Artist talk February 25th, 5:30 – 7:00 pm (PST), sign-up here.

March 13-14, 20-21, 2021; Developing Your Creative Photo Book, a workshop that I am leading again in collaboration with Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP). Workshop dates are March 13 – 14th, and March 20-21st from 9am – noon PST. Four days, two consecutive weekends, a virtual workshop on Zoom, with time between sessions to develop your book dummy. Sign-up here.


3 thoughts on “Abstract art for Abstractions sake?

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  1. I like where you are going with this.
    Have you considered exploring drawing and painting as a way to search for answers? Just curious.

    1. Interestingly in the 1990’s my abstract acrylic paintings were based on natural landscape subjects (from my own imagination). At that time, these were very visually based and I did not have a specific concept or theme I was investigating. Meanwhile my current acrylic paintings are representational (okay, a little bit abstracted) and based on my Bluewater Shore project. Thanks!

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