It seems to me as if most art work has gone to abstract. I come from the watercolor world and it too is going abstract. Has it always been that way?
It only seems as if all artwork has gone to abstraction. (Though it has leaned that direction heavily in the last century) Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. There are many, many artists still practicing non-abstracted work. One reason for this 'seeming' that way is there has been a switch in focus in our institutions of higher learning towards teaching non-objective as the primary means of expression, but objective/traditional subjects are very much a force in this country. If you google 'landscape artists', 'portraitists', or 'figurative artists' you'll see exactly what I mean.
Too, it is true that many galleries and museums have opted for one over the other during much of the latter half of the 20th century, but that isn't really the current paradigm any longer. In fact in recent years there has been a resurgence of traditional/contemporary/objective art in many galleries in NY that used to shun such work. Some of it is what is termed the 'new figurative art'..which seems to have a synthesis of modernism and traditionalism as its goal.
During one of my recent trips to the Chelsea area, galleries showed a fairly close ratio between objective and non-objective artists. The buzz at school is that there isn't a better time to be a figurative/traditional artist in New York....at least not in quite a while.
An interesting article about one aspect of this trend...on an international scale.... can be read at:
Jan Esmann is one of a growing number of 'new figurative artists' in European countries, like Odd Nerdum, http://www.oddnerdrum.com/
, that seem to see figuration/objective art on a very large timeline and are harkening back to, for them, worthwhile techniques from the past. I wouldn't say they are my cup of tea exactly, but I understand where they are coming from and see the trends they represent. You can also look up Eric Fischl, Will Cotton, Robert Taplin, Judy Fox, and Peter Drake. These are all artists who are very objective and have had great success in the current fine art market in NY and elsewhere. There are many more, (This doesn't begin to take into account regional artists and geographically specific art trends like Southwestern art, etc...) but you get the idea...abstraction isn't the monster you think it is.
I prefer objective figuration myself, but enjoy a really well done piece of abstracted work immensely. (Sometimes I think that is harder to come across than good traditional subjects) I do at times sketch abstracted shapes and develop my compositions in an almost abstracted fashion(after all it is all design oriented or should be)...it is a very soothing way of working..streamlined and I think that were I to decide to, I might enjoy working in that manner.