Introduction To The Abstract Leaves Art Series

November 14, 2017

 

I first began to contemplate the ideas behind the abstract leaves art in the 1990’s. Before the millennium, I relied more on traditional Chinese mediums to express my thoughts. After I took up residence in the USA, I began to experiment more with abstract art influenced by Impressionism. 

 

Instead of using a brush on rice paper, I blended acrylic paint with ink. This medium creates a bold transition and contrast. My style fuses:

 

  • Impressionistic goals

  • Chinese painting techniques

  • Abstract morality

 

The shift towards the goal of Impressionism to communicate my inner perception of the object freed my creativity. While the subject matter may remain recognizable, I focus less on form and more on feeling as I work.

 

Impressionist Influence On Abstract Leaves Art

 

My abstract leaves art does not aim to reproduce an identifiable object. Instead, my art explores a connection to a philosophical belief about life that I see in the leaves. As I paint, I interpret this meaning with colors and lines. ​

 

You can see the influence of Impressionism in my work in Leaves 30. While the object of the painting appears to be consistent with the shape of leaves found in nature, the composition projects my visual perception. 

 

 

However, within the composition other shapes arise as I blend light and shadow. As the green transitions to a darker color, the figure of an older person emerges.

 

The rejection of traditional realism by Impressionist artists during late 19th century France gave rise to distinct and diverse styles. Like Abstract Impressionism, which emerged in New York in the 1940’s, my unique abstract art style is a reaction to the Impressionist’s goal to portray the artists’ truth of an object.

 

Chinese Painting Techniques Used In My Abstract Nature Art

 

However, my style differs from contemporary Abstract Impressionism through the blending of Chinese painting techniques. My method incorporates:

 

  • Whitespace

  • Acrylic paint mixed with ink

  • Use of lines

  • Chinese ink brushes of various sizes

  • Color pouring and blending

 

Color pouring originated from ink pouring or splashed ink in ancient China. Instead of brushing colors onto the canvas in a wash, I pour paint. Acrylic paints even when mixed with ink are slow drying. But this allows ample time to blend the paint. I begin with a dry brush to create a smooth transition of flowing color.

 

In Leaves 24, you can see how I have mixed light and dark colors to create mood and movement. The slow application of the ink brush creates a smooth pattern through the wash of color. 

 

 

Abstract Leaves Art And Morality

 

In The Art Bulletin (2012), Yukio Lippit traces examples of splashed ink and early abstract art back to 8th century, China. Ink flung with a “flamboyant corporeal gesture” created an initial mark from which the artist painted landscapes influenced by the unconscious mind and their surroundings.

 

A few centuries later, in the Yuan Dynasty, Chinese artists sacrificed representation to enhance spontaneity. Ancient philosophies like Daoism influenced early splashed ink artworks.

 

This expression of a moral significance remains a common thread in contemporary abstract art. As well as separating and emphasizing gestures, color, shapes, lines, and relationships, abstract art expresses:

 

  • Order

  • Purity

  • Simplicity

  • Spirituality

 

My unique style of abstract art also reveals my philosophies in life. Like the philosophies of Daoism and Zen Buddhism, my influences trace back to I Ching, a classic spiritual text.

 

I Ching (The Classic of Changes) provides an understanding into the fulfillment and cycle of nature to arrive at the meaning of life. It interprets life as a cycle with two sides to everything. There is

 

  • Night and day

  • Sun and moon

  • Yin and Yang

 

I experience the visual sensation of this philosophy with leaves. It is my artistic-truth. In nature and life, I feel everything repeats in cycles including the journey of man. My leaves series paintings are an expression of this feeling.

 

Cycles Of Nature In The Leaves Series

 

Leaves symbolize prayer, hope, love, and fortune. They do not represent a particular season. Instead, each painting combines colors from multiple seasons. The colors represent many things, including the:

 

  • Cycle of nature

  • Two sides - green and orange

  • Different stages of life

  • Moods

 

In Leaves 8, you can see the complete cycle of life illustrated through color. It begins with light green and the emergence of new leaves in spring. This color also stands for:

 

  • Growth

  • Creativity

  • The birth of new life

 

 

In summer as the leaves grow and their color deepens, the shade of green intensifies. It represents a maturing of life as it reaches an apex of energy and passion, a symbol of success.

 

By fall leaves change to orange with shades of brown. Orange symbolizes knowledge, wisdom, and depth that come with the experience of life. While brown represents failure.

 

Finally, leaves wilt and fall back to their roots in winter. However, the cycle of life found within the turning of the seasons, spring, summer and fall, returns starting afresh as new leaves bud in spring.

 

Like previous examples from the abstract leaves art series, other spontaneous shapes also appear in Leaves 8, materializing from the unconscious mind. You may see a pig, an eye, a dancer or a dog.

 

The Cycle Of Life For Man And Leaves

 

Man’s journey through life also follows the cycle of nature, like a leaf. When I observe and reflect on leaves to express my art, I also see man’s journey with its success and failure. These two opposites exist at the same time, for humans and leaves.

 

Leaves 34 displays a variety of hues. Light blue signifies childhood (spring). The color exudes an energy and movement, a feeling of hope that comes with youth. 

 

 

As blue fuses with green and the color darkens, the leaves mature and summer arrives. Likewise, the child grows into an adult. Summer is nature’s golden age when people and leaves reach their pinnacle of power and prosperity.

 

Fall also epitomizes man’s later years. Orange mixes with dark green to reveal brown. But as it pulls away from the green, it lightens into a vibrant orange. With success is failure. From both, we gain experience, knowledge, wisdom and a feeling of serenity.

 

The use of acrylic paint and ink suggests dramatic moods. As with all my other abstract nature wall art, a study of Leaves 34 reveals laughing faces, a childlike figure looking upwards, the resting form of an adult, branches, and roots. The use of lines and colors also express moods:

 

  • Happy

  • Angry

  • Depressed

  • Hyper

 

Leaves Endure Much Hardship In Nature

 

They must be resilient to become beautiful. Humans must also face similar hardships. If we persevere and work through our successes and failures, we can become a complete person.

 

When immersed in my art, my personal experiences, including those from the communist revolution in China, influence my work. Leaves depict the ups and downs of life, the successes and failures, the beginnings, endings, and new beginnings.

 

The different hues in the abstract leaves art series portray the changing of seasons. It embodies the cycle of life discovered in nature. 

 

 

Shulin Sun

 

 

 

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