Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The abstract introvert

(Is it me?!)

A trip on the train today to London to see this, also gave me the time to read some more of this book.  I thoroughly recommend them both!

reindeer bone

mammoth tusk...

I've come home with pages and pages of sketches in my little sketchbook, some interesting and inspiring thoughts about abstract art (something that's been noodling around in my head for a few weeks now anyway) mixed up with deep thoughts about the tricky business of being an introvert in an extrovert world.

I was brought up (a) in a largely extrovert family, and (b) with the understanding that work should be useful - and by useful I mean in a very obvious, tangible, practical way - e.g. being a doctor, scientist, teacher etc.  So it's only natural that I've always struggled with being (a) an introvert, and (b) someone who creates things.  See?  I can't even write "artist"!

So to see the evidence - that 40,000 years ago people were carving both abstract and realistic forms from mammoth tusks and bones - imagining things, ideas - and representing them using lines, dots, curves - well, that must make it OK to be someone who creates things.  Yes?

more mammoth...

The abstract thing?  I struggle with expressing myself, artistically.  Most of what I stitch is for teaching purposes, not self-expression.  Whenever I try doing something personal, I struggle because I keep trying to make pictures or useful things or recognisable things. 
But the big thing about this exhibition was to show that the abstract forms and decorations created thousands upon thousands of years ago are just like the abstract forms and decorations created now.  Alongside the carved mammoth tusks and reindeer bones were modern abstract sketches, paintings and sculptures. 

And I think I'm beginning to understand.  Some of the words in the exhibition described abstraction as requiring an "imaginative mind - to be able to symbolise and give meaning to form wtihout being realistic". 

So as well as it being OK to create things, it's OK to create things that might or might not look like recognisable things.  Yes?!

And finally the introversion thing.  Is it hard to be an artist and an introvert?  Is it because I like to keep my thoughts to myself that I find myself "stuck" with my art?  Is it an inability to express my innermost thoughts, a subconscious refusal to express my thoughts, or just that I have no thoughts worth expressing?!

And is it just part of being an introvert, that whenever I create something and put it "out there", I will then be wracked with self-doubt?  Do extrovert artists have an easier time of it?

If you don't know whether you're an introvert or extrovert, or what type of introvert/extrovert you are, have a go at this little quiz.  I love this stuff!


  1. I will make myself a note to watch the video tomorrow as it's a bit late tonight. I class myself as an introvert too and can understand exactly where you are coming from. I think many artists, yes, you are allowed to use that word about yourself, are wracked with self doubt even when they feel elated to have completed a project with a certain degree of satisfaction. Once it's out there the nagging doubts start in.

    I am often more excited by an abstract image than by something realistic. Something that is more about the colour or texture and that provokes a response in me and maybe the viewer can get me more excited than a beautiful landscape for example. It is amazing that art from so long ago can be so similar to what we do today. I saw an item on the tv about this recently and the presenter concluded that the discovery of this art gave credence to the fact that we all have an inate need to be creative, it is in all of us and was valued as a necessity to society way back in the ice age. (As in the artists were supported by the rest of society and allowances were made so that they could make art instead of hunting etc).

    Sorry I've gone on a bit but yes, it's ok to create things and yes, they do not have to be recognisable and yes, self doubt is natural. The main thing is to keep expressing yourself as you wish and enjoy :-)

  2. Repeat after me... "I am an artist". And it is okay to be whoever you happen to be, introvert or extrovert!

  3. Loved reading this Iz....very, very interesting indeed. (Loved Julie's reply too!)
    I am also trying out abstract painting for the first time; you have definitely helped me.

  4. Sometimes I am an introverted extrovert and others I am an extrovert introvert ......but I am always an artist ...x

  5. Interesting images. I'm hoping to visit that exhibition myself soon.

    If introvert is what we used to call shy, there is nothing wrong with that. Several of the best contemporary artists fall into that catagory.

  6. 'course it's ok to create things, to be an Artist whether intro or extrovert (did you say doctor AND a scientist?!) these beautiful things remind me of the Pictish carvings. Funny how most of us need to 'see' something in a piece & others, with a different imagination, can be 'sent' by texture, line & form. (ooh!)

    Into or extro, I wake up each morning & wonder who I'll be today ;)

  7. Hi Naida! I couldn't reply direct to you unfortunately. Definitely recommend the exhibition - the exhibits are tiny though, so if there are crowds it takes a while to go round as you have to wait your turn to look carefully.

    Introvert isn't necessarily shy. I used to be very shy, but now I'm not so much. But I'm still definitely introverted. The problem is that it is a pejorative word now, and most people assume introverted means antisocial or aloof and is generally a bad thing - which it isn't. All it means is that we recharge by being alone, and find constant company and stimulus exhausting. Extroverts recharge and re-energise by being with people. Introverts need time alone or they feel twitchy, extroverts need time with people or they feel depressed!


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