This style of creative art combines a variety, or composite, of different styles. For instance, what happens when you combine abstract art with photorealist art? Visually, they are about as utterly different as you can get. One is based on formal qualities like line, pattern and color, whilst the other seeks to replicate photographic detail. When combined, they can play off each other to create a compelling visual and intellectual dynamic. To see what I mean, take a look at my funky sheep painting on the left and my other composite artwork on the right!
Combining different styles of art leads to a different spin on reality and perception. Composite art therefore contains many layers of meaning. By combining a variety of imagery, and/or different styles of art, it is possible to forge creative connections between otherwise disparate ideas or themes. How else to unite a sparrow with Beethoven, or a frog with black holes?
Composite artwork has the potential to be fresh and innovative. Because there are so many potential combinations of images and styles, the possibilities are endless. Within my own body of work, I classify these types of paintings and drawings as "Composite Realism", because they involve elements of intense realism combined with abstract patterns and forms. This is a great way to interweave arcane concepts such as philosophy, the depths of time, the mystery of memory, theories of creation, and the assorted pursuits of science (to name just a few!) with more accessible imagery, such as cows, fish, or cupcakes. What fun!
The creativity of composite artwork lies in unexpected juxtapositions of different elements. Familiar images can be enlarged, cropped, shrunk, distorted, or arranged in surprising ways that redefine the meaning of the objects depicted. The habitual meanings we assign to objects suddenly become more fluid, more changeable, even more elusive. In other words, everyday images are recontextualized - given a new life.
Let's see an example:
Ratiocinative Sapience - 6" x 6" - Prismacolor Colored Pencils on Paper
This frog drawing is an example of one of my Composite Realism pieces. This drawing combines a photorealist rendering of a frog with abstract patterns, black hole equations and dictionary definitions. This elaborately detailed drawing is part of my Deep Thinkers series, in which various animals are juxtaposed with evidence of human thought, in the form of mathematical equations, quotes, definitions, musical scores, etc. These pieces depict a zen-like transcendent bridge between conceptual thinking and animalistic consciousness. These two contrasts are united by a careful use of color and decorative design.
The overall meaning of this piece is entirely up to the viewer. The poetic beauty of composite art is that it allows for free association. Because the normal context of these images dissolves, you can create your own context and weave your own story around the images.
Composite art speaks to a contemporary world that is continually bombarded by a neverending flood of images, ideas, and information. We currently inhabit a world that is overflowing with constant streams of information that beam into space, bounce off of satellites and encircle the globe. Information can spread across continents in a matter of seconds. Our world is a constant influx and exchange of energy. These images and ideas overlap and superimpose over one another on the artist's canvas in the same way as they co-exist in our collective consciousness.
In a nutshell, composite artwork has the ability to surprise, delight, enlighten and tickle your brain cells. Composite art represents a new way of finding wholeness and unity. It is a form of creative art that can dissolve boundaries and limitations, propose new possibilities, embrace multiple viewpoints and introduce novel ways of story-telling.
Noteworthy artists who work in a composite style:David Salle is an American painter whose creative art paintings combine a multitude of different images. For instance, his painting Angels in the Rain combines angel statues, performing bears and abstract elements. His painterly style is like a visual collage.
James Rosenquist is an American painter with close ties to the Pop Art movement. Rosenquist combined abstraction and painterly realism to create a series of large-scale paintings addressing pop culture, consumerism/commercialism, and modern history. Due to the large scale of these paintings, as well as the way he handles the paint, his representational images often become abstract - such as the spaghetti in his creative art paintings, I Love you with my Ford or F-111.
Thaneeya McArdle (that's me!) is a contemporary American artist who works in a composite realism style, combining photorealistically-rendered images of animals with abstract backgrounds. She also creates spiritual art in a composite style, which you can see here.
Gonacha is an inspirational mixed media artist
whose funky art is a colorful combination of ideas and images. Her
modern art mixed media pieces emanate a sense of hope and abundance!
Check out this exclusive Art is fun
interview with this talented contemporary artist.
Tips for creating your own Composite Art: