PleinAir Magazine

TOWARD ABSTRACTION

Patrick Lee’s paintings are well known and appreciated by a certain segment of the plein air community — those who like paintings that veer toward abstraction. Because it’s such a defining characteristic of the artist’s work, we should agree on a definition of the term before we go any further. For Lee, abstraction does not mean utterly non-representational. And if you look up the word in a dictionary, you’ll find several meanings that back up the artist’s position, including 1) focusing on a quality rather than a literal meaning of a thing, and 2) reducing or condensing a larger whole into a much smaller and more succinct summary.

Lee primarily describes the act of pushing the abstract quality of his work as editing out almost all information, leaving only the most important aspects of the scene. “For me, it’s a matter of how much can I leave out and still have the painting read,” Lee says. “I sometimes give just a hint of what’s there. And by doing so, I find that anything could be subject matter.”

Lee says his pursuit of abstraction doesn’t just distill the process of choosing a subject,

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