Abstraction can involve an application of a medium to a surface that changes it
and the rectangle, and the evolving image, and continues to do so every time
the pencil, pastel, or paint is applied. The image transforms by addition, alteration,
or reduction until what is acceptable to me as a final resolution has been reached.
Hopefully, the result presents an interesting configuration of forms, values, colors,
and textures that produce a desirable drama, poetry, optical juxtaposition or intellectually stimulating
image that moves the viewer.

With figurative work that same combination of elements should result in pleasing pictures.
However with realism or figuration the final image is for the most part already in the mind's eye.
Not to subordinate or belittle figurative works in any way, nevertheless this artist finds the creation of 
an abstract  work from an initial "tabula rasa" of the virgin rectangle that begins with the making of marks without the intention of finding a final image until much later in the process a greater challenge.