The Art of Socio-Political Abstractionism
as practiced by Rich Sheaffer
… advocating for human decency and respect in politics and society,
one work of art at a time …
Thanks for dropping by! Please use the buttons above to navigate to “About Me” to learn about me and what I do in the world of art, “About SPA”, to learn more about the genre of Socio-Political Abstractionism in which I practice, “Portfolio” to see my works in the field of Socio-Political Abstractionism, “News” to explore what I have been doing lately, “Vote!” if you need some inspiration to make your voice heard, and finally “Contact” if you would like to send me a note.
Here is a current example of my work. Please continue reading below and on my other website pages if you would like to further understand “What is Socio-Political Abstractionism?”
For those who wish to linger here a bit longer … how did I get started in painting? Was it my lifelong dream? Actually no, I retired from my field of engineering rather spontaneously in late 2016, and had no idea what to do.
“So … what do I do now?” I asked myself upon retirement. Current events inspired me to begin writing my first novel … how does some buffoon in the distant future start the end of planet Earth, and what do the few survivors on this dying planet decide to do? Can the human race survive, and is it worth saving?
However, I found that while I could lay out the story in less than a year, it would take ten more years to learn the craft and make it interesting enough to actually read. So, the novel slipped to the back burner and … what now? And why am I writing in first-person here on my Home page and my News page (“I”) while the other web pages are in third-person (“Rich”). Well, let’s call it literary license. The other pages represent a different, perhaps more professional-sounding style of writing … but my writing is a whole other subject that we will largely ignore while my novel is in progress and art is my main passion at the present time … and how did that happen?
“I certainly don’t know how to paint, but maybe I can I do it anyway if it’s abstract? And it is a quicker way to express my myself .” Armed with only the vaguest prior exposure to Abstract Expressionism, I bought a 4-foot by 6-foot pre-stretched canvas and had it shipped to me (everyone uses the largest canvas they can get into their garage, don’t they?).
“How do I do this, if I only intend to ever do one painting as an experiment, and it would represent my entire life from before birth until after death? Once you represent your entire life, you can hang up your painting tools and you’re done, right?” I started by doing a background “wash”, using a light blue house paint like any Common Man would use to represent … what? God? Infinity? All that ever was before I came along, and all that ever be after I’m gone? Good enough!
I would sit down and contemplate, or go into a meditative state, and think about my earliest remembrances … that’s a start, and let’s see what happens. Then let it dry, come back the next day, and just quietly think about my life, one event, one person, one feeling at a time, each color representing something different that the others. Let it dry, come back the next day, over and over and over, over the course of several weeks, until I could say “that’s it”. That’s the story of my life. Done.
As I looked back … and forward … what will my life have meant by the time it will be at a closure? Was it just a chaotic experiment that went ever-so-poorly at many junctures? Did the joys outweigh the sorrows? Did faith ever help me to persevere when things seemed hopeless and their worst? Could I have loved more, or done more, or have made better decisions? I suppose many people face these types of questions, and I certainly have.
So, there it is. I’m done with painting. I’ve expressed everything. But, I really enjoyed doing it. And wait just a moment … it’s August 8, 2017, and there’s the news. Upon hearing that North Korea had successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, we hear “They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before …”. Oh, great, that’s what we need, a new and improved threat of “Fire and Fury”, even better than the previous threats.
My novel will still take another ten years, I thought, and maybe I can express my concerns for humanity through my newer form of expression, painting. Maybe the final outcome of endlessly escalating hate, fear, anger, threats, insults, name-calling and the like can be abstractually expressed on canvas … and here it is, again on 4-foot by 6-foot pre-stretched canvas. The Earth in this work is 2-dimensional, laid out like a fileted fish as we have seen in textbooks. All that you see here is offered for your interpretation. What is happening to the Earth, and why is it so small (in the lower right) while the streams and blotches of red and black are so predominant? I am only one person, so my interpretations of my various works are not too important. I can only hope that all of the interpretations and all of the discussions of all of the people who view my works can be of value.
I wasn’t entirely satisfied with that work and thought “I can do better if I do another”. And with each work that I create, I still think “I can do better”. So on it goes.
Upon searching rather diligently for the term “Socio-Political Abstractionism” and not finding that it yet existed, I decided that my new expressions in art form should be called that. These are what I call hot-button social topics that are discussed in the world of politics, expressed in abstract form as I dream or visualize them.
Since I found that my first two works were too large to be readily transportable in the event of being invited to exhibit, my subsequent works have been more modest in size, typically 30 x 40 or 24 x 36 inches.
And as they say, “the rest is history”. Since the conceptualization of Socio-Political Abstractionism, there has been no end, and only escalation, to the anger, insults, mockery, hatred, taunting, ridiculing, belittling, violence-inciting and incendiary name-calling as one might expect of a 3rd grade bully. As long as that lack of human decency continues in our political climate in any political party, I will have inspiration. Although I have returned to my prior field of engineering part-time, I expect to continue receiving an endless stream of fodder to inspire my artwork. That will continue so long as voters continue to approve of those in office who exhibit these reckless and dangerous behaviors.
Please … you can make a difference. Your opinion matters. Your vote counts.