When one first starts painting the biggest obstacle to success is a lack of confidence. In order to overcome this it is necessary to practice. It would be the same if one were to contemplate mastering a musical instrument. It seems that many people consider mastering a brush or pen a much simpler exercise. However, after much diligent work one becomes more fluent and dextrous. The same goes for seeing, and seeing well enough and to draw effectively enough to represent what one sees. The same again goes for painting. To represent all the relevant tones, colours, and textures to produce a facsimile of that which confronts you is a major job. Once mastered satisfaction is guaranteed.
One can progress in that manner of reproducing all before you for years. However, there comes a point when it dawns on you that there may be a way to express more than just the surface. This “more” is the kind of holy grail that has beguiled artists for centuries slavishly reproducing faithfully all before you becomes at some point mechanistic. Somehow one’s feelings, passions, desires, reflections need an outlet that the paint and the drawings must express. In order to distil the world I see I need to indulge in a reduction exercise that breaks down the components of an image into basic shapes that best express what I feel. Within the shapes are tones, colours and textures that again can be rearranged and emphasised to demonstrate my passion for nature. One can call this exercise in working. Abstraction is where one takes out the inessential elements retaining only that which best expresses an ideal.
This is not easy and necessitates much experimentation and rejection. The abstracting process involves much throwing away. I am lucky in that nature provides much in the way of abstracted forms by way of field patterns, weather patterns, rock formation, water patterns. Moods generate Abstract thought which is why I am inspired much by Zen philosophy which guides much of my thinking and stimulates much of my imagery.