Here in the gallery, we hear all kinds of comments about the artwork. Layered in with the mostly positive feedback, we occasionally hear, "Well what is it?"  


Abstract art, without specific or representational imagery, can be tricky for some to understand or find merit in, so we thought it might be fun to look into how five of our artists came to work in abstraction and how in some cases there are actually elements of the familiar found in their works. You might even be surprised to know that a few of these talented artists first thought abstract work didn't have the merit that more representational works held until they started giving it a chance....

Josh Jensen

Josh was trained in representational oil paintings, but his work has evolved to more abstract themes in mixed media that focus on color and movement. His body of work is influenced by his established career as a marriage and family therapist. His distinct style continues to progress as he expands his vocabulary and practice of mark-making and color composition. Josh has always sought to strike a balance of exploration, seeking a high degree of access to “accidents” and commitment, using established techniques and standards.⁠⁠

 

Read on to learn a bit more directly from Josh.

 

 

 

 

 

"I have always loved art, but I was a reluctant convert to abstract art. As I grew up drawing and painting, I believed that the more realistic my work, the more valuable. 


In college I wrote a scathing essay criticizing all 20th century art as elitist, absurd, and chaotic. It wasn’t until a patient art history teacher urged me to pay closer attention, understand the context and think outside the box that I realized how wrong I was.


After I was able to admit that contemporary art had a valid intellectual grounding, something more amazing happened: I began to have emotional experiences with abstract art. 


These experiences were often ambiguous in their content yet undeniable in their effect. To this day, I find this process of making and viewing abstract art as rewarding and miraculous."

 

Explore Josh's work HERE.

Allison James

We recently asked Allison how she came to work in abstraction as a painter.  Read on to learn more about one painter’s journey. 

 

"While earning my BFA from 2008-2013, there was a heavy focus on creating our own style during our upper level courses. Our professors wanted us to seemingly pull these big ideas out of thin air. So this was a daunting task for me, a naive, small town student who only thrived with realism. I wanted to say something with my work, abstract my portraits so they didn't feel so obvious, but photorealism was all I knew at that point. I had no big ideas

 

After graduating I worked in retail for almost 5 years, not touching a paintbrush during that time. When I finally hit my threshold of folding shirts and getting nowhere, I knew I had to make a change. I started painting again in 2017 and I took this year as a chance to carve a new path; to really finish what I started with those upper level courses in college. I knew I didn't want to paint things that looked like real things just because I could; that didn't feel like growth. I also knew I wouldn't be fulfilled as an artist painting this way. So I went in the opposite direction and focused on the emotion during paintings that abstraction and color afforded me and I've never looked back. 

 

My work has continued to evolve and tighten up over the last 7 years. As I grow as a person, my work does too. It took time for me to slowly leave behind ALL representation. Today you'll find a loose shape here and there, something that feels like a ghost from everyday life - I call these my decoder ring things. But overall, it's color, emotion, and storytelling. The rest is up to you."

Allison James is a contemporary abstract painter from Atlanta, GA. She earned a BFA in Painting, Printmaking and Drawing from Georgia Southern University.  Her work has been seen and featured in various media, including The New York Times, The Bad on Paper podcast, Architectural Digest, Medium, Midwest Living and Atlanta Magazine. 

 

James is continually inspired by the messy (but thrilling) human experience. Her work is fueled by personal events and memories, along with conversations overheard from strangers and inside storybooks. She reconfigures these felt emotions into a preferred outcome, translating feeling into her own abstracted storytelling. James believes a painting can be many things at once, just like people (and most things in life). 

 

 

 

 

See more of Allison's work HERE.

Nino Yuniardi

 

 

"My venture into abstract painting began from a place of frustration with the pressure to achieve perfection. As I explored ways to break free from these constraints, I stumbled upon the liberating world of abstraction. It became my way of distilling the essence of my subjects into pure expression. 

 

Food emerged as a powerful metaphor in my art—a symbol of unity and connection. Each brushstroke became a celebration of flavor and emotion, inviting viewers to join me on a sensory journey. 

 

In abstraction, I found not only artistic freedom but also a deeper connection to the shared experiences that unite us all. It's a space where we can embrace our differences, celebrate and own our unique spices, and express ourselves unapologetically as individuals."

Nino's artwork offers an abstract reflection on life's complexities.  He sees art as a personal journey to understand life. His work starts with curiosity and turns into a story—an attempt to make sense of the world. It's not about grand statements or a big finish. Instead, Nino's art focuses on the journey, the colors, and textures that guide the way.

Inspired by food and visual language, Nino mixes elements like a home chef, creating something enjoyable. With contrasts, harmonies, and playful titles, Nino's art is a fun process with a quiet message. It's a way to explore diversity and unity, using food as a metaphor. Each ingredient represents our shared human experience.

 

 

Check out all of Nino's work HERE.

Alicia Armstrong

"I was interested in making abstract work early in college alongside of figure painting. My Interest was peaked when I would work with different textures and colors for the backgrounds of my figurative pieces. I was drawn to the different color relationships, surface texture, and shape. 

 

I was also attracted to making abstract work because I could enter a world where I made my own narrative with these elements, communicating with different, more intuitive parts of myself. It was more primitive, more playful and honest. There are more expectations in making representative work sometimes, it can be more freeing from an expressive standpoint to make abstract work. And, I really do get lost in color placement and surface texture- its like an endless buffet in terms of the composition and color of my abstracts. 

 

A lot of clients ask me if I ever run out of ideas or struggle to come up with content in my work. It is the opposite- I struggle to hone in on the thousands of possibilities in making an abstract piece. It's like a kid with no rules sometimes!"

 

See Alicia's stunning paintings HERE.

Through a creative manipulation of materials and sensitivity to color and tone, Alicia Armstrong's abstract landscapes are simultaneously abstract and boldly representational. What at first glance may appear to be washes of color that conclude with expressive, tactile features that end in drippings or dramatic concentrations of color, become suggestive of landscape, dramatic horizon lines, the interior of a rock formation, or even outer space and fields of flowers. 

 

The application of materials she later removes to create hard lines also forms transparent layers, which leads viewers to wonder where these mysterious, but defined paths lead. Viewers are left with more questions than answers, about the future, about destinations, and about what they are seeing. 

 

Terri Dilling

Terri is inspired by the beauty and complexity of the natural world, and makes reference to the landscape around her as well as the emotional landscape within. She is interested in using gestural marks and color relationships to express a mood or feeling. Terri strives to create a calming visual space that also has elements of surprise, energy and contrast. 

 

Terri's artistic lineage comes from abstract expressionism, especially its focus on conveying emotion with bold, spontaneous marks. She relates to the softness of impressionism, with lyrical landscapes full of color and light. Combining these things through her own visual vocabulary gives the work a contemporary context. Terri's paintings are predominantly acrylic paint with additional drawing materials like charcoal and pigment crayon. Terri paints intuitively, so some elements get covered over while others are pulled forward, and the finished painting contains a rich, layered history.

"My paintings are inspired by nature, especially clouds, water, and flowers. These are things that move and change form over time, they are not static. 

 

For me, the landscape is about the energy of being of alive. I want to express something about my emotions and experiences, my inner landscape, and I have found that abstraction is the best way for me to do so. I rely on a knowledge of techniques, compositional structures and color theory, but I am free to put my own spin on it. 

 

As a viewer you may start out by trying to find something that looks like a flower or cloud or rock or body of water, but eventually that falls away and you can just absorb the mood of the colors and the overall feeling of the painting. I think it is a more engaging way to look at art when you can make your own associations."

 

Enjoy more of Terri's work HERE.

We hope that this deeper dive into how a few of our gallery artists found their way to abstraction or what inspires them gives you a fresh perspective on abstract art!

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