“Do you think a dedicated abstract artist needs to be proficient in traditional drawing and painting in order to be taken seriously as a visual artist?”
I don’t think traditional skills are in any way required to be taken seriously as an abstract artist. If the abstract work is strong and compelling on its own, then I don’t think most people will care exactly how you got there. For example, many art dealers could care less about whether you attended art school or not, the same way that they likely won’t care whether you have traditional drawing and painting skills. What it really comes down to for the art dealers is the current work itself.
At the same time though, an argument could be made for traditional drawing and paintings skills to precede abstraction. Many of the historically well-known abstract artists created abstract works as a part of their natural evolution as an artist. Jackson Pollock didn’t just wake up one day and decide to become an artist who made drip paintings, rather his drip paintings emerged after many years of prior experimentation with a number of different styles and techniques. For many of these historical artists, traditional skills were learned first, and created a departure point for experimentation with abstraction. Traditional art skills can provide a springboard for abstraction. After all, the formal concerns of composition, color, contrast, etc. are the same, regardless of whether you’re working traditionally or abstractly.
Painting by Pat Steir
Whether or not traditional skills matter is really up to each individual artist to determine on their own. If you feel that having a grounding in traditional skills would help you be a better artist, then absolutely take the plunge and make it happen. If traditional skills are not interesting or enjoyable for you, and you’re learning them simply out of obligation, then don’t put pressure on yourself to learn them.
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Ask the Art Prof Live is a weekly live video broadcast on my Facebook page where I provide professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015. Ask me your questions by commenting on the live video post as the video streams, and I’ll answer right away. I’ll discuss being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more. Like my Facebook page and you’ll receive a notification when each live video begins.
Video Critique Program
I offer 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for aspiring/professional artists working on a body of artwork, and for students working on an art portfolio for college admission. Watch sample video critiques and get more info here.
“How can I approach creating abstract art?”
“How do you achieve a luminous effect in a painting through color and value?”
“Does painting what you see limit your artistic possibilities?”
“What is the practical meaning of color theory?”
“How do you compose a striking painting with color?”
“Is hard work and experimenting continuously such a bad thing?”
“What can a painting student do to be relevant in a digital world?”