3.04. Abstract Expressionist Painting

The Finished Painting – Acrylic on Canvas, September 2018


My practice this summer has been inspired in part by the surrealist idea that art should come from the unconscious mind. I had this idea in mind when creating my abstract animation work, and the idea continues in a painting I’ve completed…


It is painted using acrylic. I’ve included a lot of primary colour, and by mixing these I’ve created some darker secondary colours such as brown, navy blue and green to form a sort of background. The shapes present reach out in what look like bluish white fingers, and they appear quite hazy because for most of the process, the paint was wet, and I was able to mix freely on the canvas.

How does it relate to my practice?

I have created paintings like this before. My final painting from 1styear was of a similar style and created in the same spirit of painting from the unconscious mind. This piece was informed a great deal by that, because completing it enabled me to loosen up and create freely without thinking too much about what I was doing.

This painting came from a desire to simply create. As I’ve touched on with my animation work, I have become very interested in motion as an artistic motif, and for me this includes the motion of my paintbrush on a canvas. Motion is such an integral stimulus for my work at the moment, and I have been particularly inspired by the motion of flight, including birds and aeroplanes. I therefore tried to create brushstrokes that soar, strokes that swoop and glide, as well as strokes that gracefully land.

Artist Inspiration

Throughout this creative process, I have related strongly to artists such as Salvador Dalí and Jackson Pollock. Both engage the unconscious mind in their work, though in different ways – Dalí’s impossibly imaginative paintings constitute a dreamlike world, full of characters, symbols, and even references to mythology. Pollock on the other hand created extremely eye-catching canvases full of colour, using unconventional drip-painting techniques. With little control over his paint, the finished pieces reflect an instinctive, almost reckless creative process.

The painting in its early stages, late August 2018. Note the heavy use of primary colour – this still being wet, I was able to mix these thoroughly.

With paintings of this type, it is hard to know when to stop. There was never an image in my mind of how I wanted the outcome to look, so there wasn’t really something to work towards. I painted for about an hour or two and decided to stop purely because I did not want the painting to look overly complex.

I’m really pleased with how the colours involved complement each other, and I think the overall composition and structure of the piece is successful in that it reflects forms and motions found in nature, which I’m really interested in. I do think, however, that this piece would have been more successful if it was simply larger. As it is fairly simple as a whole, I feel it needs more size to achieve a larger impact.


Published by William Fowler

Hello! I'm studying Art and English Literature at the University of Reading, and I'm currently working with art films to investigate philosophical ideas of the 'real.' As always, my aim is to create pieces of art that are more than the sum of their parts.

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