Abstract Painting Ideas

By | 7:00 PM
In abstract art there is no clearly defined wrong or right. Everyone and everything can be seen in the abstract. There are no rules to speak of for taking up a brush and palette of paint and doing what your imagination tells you to do.  Of course, there is always the REAL world beckoning you to adhere to the notions of "what is"; the important thing for you to realize is the need to let go of your basic notions of what a masterpiece should be and to find instead the drive to create a visual interpretation of what you feel at the moment. One of the key mistakes made with painting abstract imagery is to try to represent something literal and to rely on technique alone.  While you still create a type of art this way, it is not abstract. I will go into a few ideas here on how to approach abstract painting.

abstract art, mixed media
"It's just a state of mind" © Robyn Weinrib 2013, with permission,
See more at her artist blog.

When creating a piece you can draw inspiration from a state of mind or a desired reaction to develop a theme.  For instance you may decide to have an Egyptian theme, so then you would use abstractions from commonly associated imagery of Egypt such as pyramids, the sphinx, palm trees, the Nile, the Eye of Horus, ankhs, etc. The images will come through being open to what your imagination conjures up.  These are images set apart from the common experience of reality as we know it.  Some pieces of abstract art help the viewer relax while others may have very busy imagery.  Abstract paintings strive to make the art's viewer have their own interpretations and apply their emotional responses to them.  Remember you do not want to be overly accurate in your depictions of the images, but to subtly suggest them.

Another idea is to take something most people see daily such as a tree, a street sign or a fire hydrant - something familiar - and think of another way to look at it.  How would someone who had never seen this object before relate to it?  What would be its perceived function?  Inter-playing naive assumptions of known shapes can help you paint something that is normally instantly recognized in an different way that provokes thought to come to the realization of what it is. This is similar to the impressionist style of depicting a subject, however, not as directly related to realism.  Abstract is not quite surreal when used this way either.  It is on the verge of the line between impressionism and surrealism.

If you are feeling exceptionally creative, you may want to paint an abstract that tells a story by combining images that may have a meaning together that would not be considered on their own.  The story told can also have the quality of bringing new perspective and emotional reactions combined.  In this manner you would have both the ideas explored in the previous paragraphs developed into your painting.  And as a matter of fact, many stories could be interpreted from the finished abstract piece despite if you intended one or not.  Actually having one in mind might increase the story-capacity tenfold.

Another approach, that seems to be self-exploratory, is to just freely develop your painting as you go along.  Yes, I am saying make it up as you go; it is a natural and intuitive way to create art.  Sometimes when using this method, an artist will find a theme, or an emotion, or story, or all of these and then more.

Even though I have stated at the start of this article that there are no particular rules involved with the creation of abstract art, it is absolutely beneficial to have some training in fine arts. I was informed about this by my artist contact Elisa Gomez regarding her personal development as a fine artist.  She tells me she was initially very skeptical as an abstract artist about needing to learn skills in her Still Life classes. Her teacher, an accomplished abstract artist himself, informed her that elements such as color theory and triangulation used in still life "are tools that can be manipulated in abstraction for a deeper more meaningful work."  At the time, she thought this was absurd, yet has come to find that in practice her teacher was very correct! Elisa tells me that "while traditional techniques seem far and away from abstract art - those very tools help me to take my work from interesting to captivating."

Painting abstract art can be a way to go both into and out of subjects and a series could easily develop if you even go farther and break them down.  The main idea is that a thought or even just a pure essence of a thought is being expressed in a visual format. The color or lack of color, the texture, the interplay of the shapes in the painting, these are all manipulated by paintbrush and read by the mind's eye.

Read more about abstract art in this article: Abstract Art - How to Define It?  How do YOU define it?

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Abstract is an all-encompassing set of ideas. It can be anything.