Voyage Abroad - Abstract Painting – Oil on Canvas

    In the previous two posts leading up to this one, I have been delving into the thought process and background history of one of my fir...



In the previous two posts leading up to this one, I have been delving into the thought process and background history of one of my first successful artwork creations, “Voyage Abroad”.



What I mean by “successful” is that before then, I had not developed a particular style all my own, and this piece (and a few others at the time) became my definitive magnum opus.

These two posts are found here:

Why do I Paint This Way?

Photos of my Art Class Trip to England


How My Art Style Developed

Of course, this particular style had developed and nurtured since early childhood, when I would doodle and sketch compulsively. I can see now why I sketched so much. My parents often drank obsessively, and my only means of escape (or so I thought) was to spend hours in my room drawing whatever came to mind. I always drew, from the very beginning, to escape from reality.


It wasn’t until art school in the fall of 1996, that I even stood in front of an empty canvas. I felt like I had been painting all my life, and instantly fell in love with it! (I still have this painting in my house… I will try to post it here soon)


“Voyage Abroad” Creation


The abstract painting “Voyage Abroad” was completed the summer after my spring semester art trip to Europe. I felt compelled and inspired to create a piece that summarized the feelings I felt at that time. That spring was a season of firsts for me… first time on an airplane, first time out of the province, first time seeing so many wonderful things. My world had been made much larger, and my perceptions of society and my relationship with it changed considerably.


Voyage Abroad Arts Abstract


Dual Interpretation of the Painting


Voyage Abroad has two levels of meaning. I will discuss each of them separately.

  1. The literal expanding of horizons

    I used a few of my photographs as a reference for the original sketch, and to develop the idea.

    The Under-painting:

    The Eiffel Tower was on the right, and still can be recognized to a certain degree. The bottom of left of the composition was Stonehenge in the under-painting. At the top left a airplane/clouds combination has been distorted so much that it’s completely indistinguishable. A hillside lies behind the Eiffel Tower form, which is one in La Scie, Newfoundland… the town where I lived at the time.

    By painting all these places onto one canvas, and hiding “beneath the surface”, I could hold onto the places I travelled. My experiences there are forever a part of me, and has been reflected in my art ever since.

  2. The subconscious escape from reality

    As I discussed earlier, art has always been an escape and comforting zone for me. I have not always understood why I “hide'” my themes underneath distorted forms, but today I can say I certainly know why.

    It has to do with the shapes and patterns that are seen on the surface!

    Some resemble contorted inner body parts, cellular structures, and  long twisty veiny formations. The surface is trying to be hidden, while the underneath is being exposed.

I have always been very shy, more-so when I completed this painting. So, I can see now that this painting is myself trying to hide, while at the same time wanting to express myself outwardly.

It hasn’t been until quite recently that I have been able to.. fully.

I have my beautiful wife to thank for that!



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Graham Matthews: Voyage Abroad - Abstract Painting – Oil on Canvas
Voyage Abroad - Abstract Painting – Oil on Canvas
Graham Matthews
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