I’ve never been particularly interested in drawing pictures of real things. For whatever reason, attempting to mirror reality feels stifling and stressful. I prefer Abstract Art because it evolves organically and provides a way to see things differently.
Abstract art frequently develops without a specific destination. You might start of with a direction, idea, or technique, but you don’t know where it will lead. As a more concrete example, it’s hard to imagine that famous Abstract Expressionist Artists knew exactly what the end painting would look like. Jackson Pollock said, “I don’t work from drawings. I don’t make sketches and drawings and color sketches into a final painting.”
Originally, I started down the road of abstraction by making geometric art. Somewhere along the way I started thinking about abstracting nature. One of my early (and somewhat accidental) images involved color sorting pictures.
At a basic level, a digital picture is just a bunch of pixels that are pushed into a grid. Each pixel has a color value. The color value can be expressed as a set of numbers. In other words, every picture is just numbers.
If you take the idea a step further, you realize that the world can be expressed as numbers. Everything seems organic and ambiguous, but sorting colors simplifies the chaos of reality.
Colors have a significant impact on our mood and emotions. Organizing colors makes it easier to understand why certain environments might feel similar (or different) than others.
Here’s an image from outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
When you sort the image, it turns into this:
This beach picture . . .
sorts into this. There’s more blue than I expected.
My favorite image so far is this picture from the Big Island of Hawaii.
That turns into this:
The range of colors in the Big Island picture don’t exist in any other image I’ve sorted. Maybe that says something about the uniqueness of the island.
I recommend this article from Paul Graham about doing what you love. His discussion of how to choose between two seemingly equal interests is insightful.
In case you want more convincing, here’s a video that makes the case for Abstraction . . .