Colorful Abstract Art
by Reggie Laurent
If you like colorful abstract art, then you will love the vibrant paintings of Reggie Laurent. His canvases are filled from corner to corner with bright color and detailed designs that seem to move and dance right in front of your eyes.
Reggie's multicolor paintings are big and small, round and square, triangular and trapezoidal. Everything Reggie touches seems to glow with color - even everyday objects. His artwork isn't limited to just paint on canvas - he also paints everything from wooden bowls to rolling pins. When it comes to what Reggie will paint next, the possibilities seem endless.
Reggie was kind enough to grant Art is Fun this detailed, in-depth interview about his colorful abstract art and his approach to the artistic process. You can even see photos of his painting process, allowing you an inside look into how he creates his kaleidoscopic masterpieces.
Where are you from?
I am from Chicago. I currently live in Fairburn, GA which is 20 miles from downtown Atlanta.
How long have you been an artist?
I have been painting since 1986. I was a late bloomer.
Do you have a favorite brand of acrylics?
My favorite brand of acrylics is Liquitex. I use glossies and soft bodies mostly which come in 2oz jars. I also use Liquitex tube paints, mediums and varnish.
Why do you like working in acrylics?
Acrylic paints are my favorite medium for the versatility, lack of odor, ease of cleaning and drying times. I am also proficient with pen and ink, charcoals, and pastels. I am formally trained in cabinet making, so I also have some art furniture. I have created pedestals and cocktail tables and other mixed media works.
Do you prefer to work on a large or small canvas?
I am really at home on a large canvas. I think of it as a big playground that I can run around on all day and never get tired. A large canvas enables me to put down a lot of information which is what ultimately draws the viewer into my colorful world. Small works are more challenging, and I am doing a lot more, so I can have affordable works for new collectors.
Can you describe the process of making your colorful abstract art from start to finish?
My process has evolved over the years. My signature style is fully established and uniquely mine. I always start with a black canvas, and I block in my main shapes in white gesso. I leave enough of the black exposed to show through. I then fill in the larger shapes with different colors, and then on to the most tedious part…the detail. It’s the fine detail in my works that takes the most time, and the detail work is the key to making my works interesting. I can interject all kinds of colors and shapes within shapes. Once I have done all of the detail work, I “sew” my paintings together with my white ‘thread”. This last step ties all the shapes together and forms a unified entity. The shapes I paint are random and flow off my brush effortlessly as if they are a language I can write proficiently, but don’t totally understand. I don’t “plan" my paintings. I allow them to evolve and speak to me as I go along.
A larger canvas requires a lot of time, so a painting becomes a part of me for the duration of the creation. I listen to jazz, listen to sports and sometimes I paint in silence. Every mood I experience appears on the canvas via a stroke, color or shape that was influenced by the environment in which I create. A large painting becomes a friend that I hate to see go after hanging out with it for so long, but after I am done they no longer belong to me.
I also like to paint on small canvases and boards. Many people don’t understand that it is a lot more difficult to create a small work of art than a large piece. It’s easy to get someone’s attention with a large painting that screams “Hey! Look at me!”. The ability to put enough interesting visual information on a 4x6 or 8x10 canvas is a challenge because there is a lot less surface. Small works require more thought in regards to balance and the amount of detail it takes to make them interesting. Thaneeya has it down to a fine science, and most people don’t realize the talent it takes to do that. (Thanks, Reggie! --Thaneeya)
What inspires you to create such colorful abstract art?
I am still searching for the primary source of my inspiration as many things have influenced my work. It took a few years for me to find abstract art because starting out all I did was landscapes, so initially nature inspired me to paint. I was always a compulsive “doodler" and many of my works mock doodles I used to do even back in grammar school. I never tied the two together until a few years ago when I found an old notebook from college, and all I had in the margins were random shapes, cross hatches and various abstract-like scribbles. I was unaware that these early creations had made their way on to my canvas, and I smiled when I made the connection.
I have no formal training at all, so what comes off my brush is pure because I do not have the voice of a teacher in my ear telling me what to do or the theory that goes along with formal training. I paint by intuition and by listening to the painting. I also think that my childhood in Chicago and New Orleans had a major influence on my works. The Chicago skyline and Mardi Gras back in the day in New Orleans are something I will never forget. Some people think my works look like an overhead shot of a busy city. I am sure the colors are derived from the floats, beads and kaleidoscope of colors Mardi Gras offers.
I guess without knowing it growing up, I had the eye of an artist, and I archived those visions which are now revealed in my works. I can appreciate the fact that as I continue down this never ending path I am constantly discovering new things that help me interpret the source of all the creativity and talent God has blessed me with. Once the gift was revealed, I knew I was obligated to nurture it and share the fruits of my labor with the world. Michael Jordan has one of my large, very significant abstracts in his collection, and that makes me happy.
If you could meet any one artist, living or deceased, and spend an afternoon talking to them about art, who would you like to meet? What would you ask them?
Bearden’s collage works are some of the most amazing works I have witnessed in person. His “quilt like’ style is unmistakable and his ability to make everything “marry” is truly a gift. I would probably ask him if his creative process is similar to mine in regards to allowing the work to take on a life of their own or if his works are meticulously planned.
I like the simplicity in William H. Johnson’s works most notably “Café” and “Young Man in Vest”. Johnson’s works are wonderfully minimalist in some respects, but his ability to balance colors and unique subject matter make his work impossible to ignore. I would probably ask Mr. Johnson about the materials he used back then and how he acquired them. Some of these artists made their own pigments because they could not afford to buy what they needed. These artists were also from the Harlem Renaissance period, and they had to go through painstaking efforts to create their work and have it accepted by the masses. These are the artists I wholly respect as they planted the seed for me to have a career in art, and their works have inspired me. I also like Hundertwasser, Miro, Picasso and Thornton Dial among others.
Do you have any tips for aspiring artists who would like to create abstract art?
My best advice for budding artists is to begin with no boundaries. I had no idea that what initially started as a hobby would blossom into something that has taken on a life of its own, forged an awesome career and afforded me many opportunities to share my creations with the world. It took me years to discover and embrace my “root” art style. I actually used to avoid it because it was so laborious and took me forever to complete. I later found that this style was me; it is what is in me. I don’t even have to think when I paint. I just let it happen. I totally avoided going to galleries or looking at art in books when I started painting because I did not want to be influenced by any art style or artist. That was just what I wanted to do. Always be true to yourself, and only accept constructive criticism. At the end of the day do what makes you happy. Subscribing to this philosophy guarantees success. It’s fine to replicate, sample and try anything you want. Eventually your signature style will be revealed, so be patient and try as many styles and mediums as you can. Also realize that in abstract there is no right or wrong. Express yourself. Do what makes you happy. And most of all…have fun!!!