I spent last Saturday at a painting workshop by Suzanne Northcott. Suzanne’s workshop, titled “Flowing into Abstraction,” was perfect timing for me, because abstraction is something I think about a lot.

Here’s where all my friends groan, “Oh no, Angela wants to create paintings that are completely incomprehensible to ordinary mortals,” and stop reading. 

Don’t stop reading! Incomprehension is not my goal, as it has always been important to me to make connections with people through my art. I don’t want to alienate the common man, but it is my desire to create better connections. I want my paintings to be meaningful in that I am expressing more than just a “copy of a photo”. I want to get inside of why that scene is important to me, what moves me about it, and how to paint it in a way that goes deeper than just “here is an accurate depiction of a tree/rock/lake/building.” It is exciting to me when I see that happening on paper. I can’t explain it; it’s like a coming alive when I am painting from that creative well instead of labouring over detail.
"Flight of Fancy" watercolour by Angela Fehr

That kind of connectedness creates paintings that seem to live on the paper. So magical!

"Flight of Fancy" watercolour by Angela Fehr

This is one of the paintings I worked on in the workshop. I had started with a floral theme in mind, and a very specific shape that I was aiming for. Sometime along the way I got stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to make the painting better within the shape in my head. I’ve been in that place before, and I never know how to resolve it.

This time I realized, the shape is the problem. When I let go of the need to keep that flower shape, I was immediately able to see what to do next, how to create the painting in a way that was in keeping with the theme and yet free and expressive, tapping in to that inner magic.

"Flight of Fancy" watercolour by Angela FehrI shared the completed painting (see below) on my facebook page (my paintings always seem to go there first – have you liked me on Facebook?) and for an “incomprehensible” abstract, it didn’t seem to bother anyone. There was an immediate response to the joy and freedom of the painting, and that makes me so happy; that my intention and message were understood and received. I had titled the painting “Slipstreams” because I feel the flow of the painting so strongly, but another friend suggested “Flight of Fancy” and I think that’s even better. What do you think?

"Flight of Fancy" watercolour by Angela Fehr

It makes me feel so joyful and fulfilled to connect through my art, to make something beautiful that incites a response from like-minded people. We don’t all connect over the same vistas, and that’s okay. I know that each of us responds to beauty in our own way. I am so happy this is mine.