This is the first article of a series of art styles and subjects that influence and inspire my own artwork. Included in this article is the definition of this particular art style as well as how and why it influences my art styles.
What Is Psychedelic Art?
According to this Wikipedia article, psychedelic art is a visual art style that is inspired by the hallucinations that are experienced when taking psychoactive drugs. The word psychedelic means “mind-manifesting”. Specifically, this art style refers to the art movement that was started in the 1960s.
Psychedelic art has common features associated with it. It includes the following:
- Fantastic, metaphysical or surrealistic subject (often called “visionary art”): this is often the case but is not a requirement, can have any subject
- Kaleidoscopic imagery, fractals, or paisley patterns: this is especially reflected in modern mandalas
- Bright and highly contrasting color scheme: Full saturation colors, full spectrum colors and side-by-side complementary colors are common features
- Extreme detail that covers the entire page, also known as the Horror Vacui style
- Geometric shapes such as: phosphenes, spirals, concentric circles, diffraction patterns, repeating patterns
In most artwork of this style, one or more (or all of the above) features are used in combination.
Well-known psychedelic artists include M.C. Escher, H.R. Giger, and Alex Grey.
How It Influences My Artwork
So, now to answer the first part, how does this art style influence my own style? Well, this one is easy. Besides the first feature (metaphysical or surrealistic subject), I use all of the features of psychedelic art. Bright, bold full-saturation colors, paisley and spiral designs, geometric patterns, highly contrasting color scheme, and lots of details. These features can be found in almost all of my artwork, even ones that I did not intend to be “psychedelic”, exactly.
Why It Influences My Art – Geometric Shapes
I have always found drawing geometric shapes, especially spirals, to be very relaxing and centering. Who hasn’t doodled random little shapes in their notebook, especially spirals? Spirals are a very fundamental and natural shape. They are found throughout the natural world, and my love of spirals mirrors my love of nature. Snail shells, pine cones, rose petals, succulents, and even pineapples have spirals in their base patterns. Fractals are also a foundation of nature. The branches of trees and even the network of veins in our own bodies area ll examples of fractals. Nature is geometry, and geometry is nature and I think that is beautiful. I love incorporating geometric shapes such as spirals, into my artwork. It gives it movement and a unique sense of style.
Why It Influences My Art – Creative Freedom
Another reason I enjoy this style is that it gives me much more creative freedom in my art. As much as I love and admire photo-realism, I personally find it very restrictive as an art form. I love the freedom of using bold bright colors and random spirals in my artwork if I feel like it. Although I usually try to still have my subjects (the animals) drawn as realistically as possible as far as anatomy and proportion is concerned, I am less concerned about their color.
I enjoy creating them with a stylized nature, with bold line work and bright colors to create a sense of depth and movement. Also, sometimes I just want to draw a random mandala or really stylized tribal type drawing. There is not as much pressure to make the animals look like a photograph, because that is not my aim. It is more liberating for me and more enjoyable. Doing artwork in this style is very therapeutic. The bold shapes and bright colors hearken to the days of childhood. My artwork does not take itself too seriously.
Interpretation and Association
Although the majority of psychedelic art is strongly associated with drug use, my artwork comes 100% from my imagination. However, I do not care how other people interpret my artwork. I also do not mind if my art becomes associated with “counter-culture” types of communities online and offline. To me, it does not matter. I create my artwork because I love it; how other people chose to interpret it is up to them.
Because of the style, it was only natural that it would become associated with groups of people from the new age and visionary communities. I actually think that is kind of cool. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a very reserved and introverted person. I like to be neat and organized, and enjoy peace and quiet. I don’t really have an “artist’s personality”, so to speak. So for my art to be associated with a community of people who are so different than me is strange and awesome at the same time. Yet I fell a spiritual resonation with these people for sure.