My work is representational. To try to improve myself I work on abstract compositions periodically. I love it. I don't see the difference between creating that kind of work and representational work, at least not in the way some other people seem to.
Some artists that I knew were going to an art show that was showing both representational and abstract paintings. They came back so critical of the abstract pieces, to the point of venom, that I decided to go to the same show to see for myself. The artists had complained about the emptiness of the modern pieces---'a child could do it'---etc., but on seeing the various work myself, I didn't sense that. It seemed to me that in many cases the artists of the abstract pieces appeared to have put more thought into their work than the representational artists had. It's impossible to say. But sometimes you look at things and think, "Another one." I HATE looking at my own stuff and thinking that!!! But it happens, it happens, and that's life. Anyway, without knowing any of the artists involved, my cold blooded assessment was that some of the abstract pieces showed some real inspiration and thought, and I didn't see that happening with the the representational things at that particular show. And I walked away with a few ideas about ideas for representational work for myself, that were inspired by the abstract pieces and not the traditional representational pieces that I saw.
We live in a very good time for artists now, because so much is available to learn. (Yay for the Internet and YouTube and workshops galore) The only trouble is the extremely odd economy, so that now artists are very often making their living from other artists (workshops galore).Even the plein-air group shows, firmly anchored in the representational world, have hit on the profitable idea of often having a drastic size limitation---sometimes insisting on miniatures basically----in order for the exhibition to display the maximum number of paintings....and collect the maximum number of entry fees. The walls are then hung chock-a-block with identically sized paintings, four or five inches in diameter, looking itself like a grid---or like a vast wall-sized piece of abstract art.