How Do You Start An Abstract Painting?

Abstract painting is an exciting and creative way to express yourself through art. It can be intimidating to get started, but with a few tips and tricks, you can create beautiful abstract paintings that will be sure to impress.

Here are My Top Tips For Starting Abstract Artwork

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to start an abstract painting, from choosing the right materials to creating the perfect composition.

Abstract painting art supplies
Abstract painting art supplies

Choose the Right Materials

The first step in starting an abstract painting is choosing the right materials. You’ll need such thins as canvas or other painting surface such as archival paper (avoid this if you use oils), paints, brushes, and other supplies such as palette knives or sponges. Choose paints that are high quality and have good coverage.

Here are my top tips for choosing the best abstract supplies;

The best materials for abstract painting can vary depending on personal preference and the desired effect. However, here are some commonly used materials in abstract painting:

  • Acrylic paints: Acrylic paints are versatile and widely used in abstract art. They dry quickly, are available in a wide range of colors, and can be easily layered, blended, and textured.
  • Canvas or paper: Choose a suitable surface for your abstract painting, such as canvas or heavy-duty paper. Canvas provides a sturdy and durable support, while paper can be more affordable and lightweight.
  • Brushes and palette knives: Use a variety of brushes in different sizes and shapes to achieve different brushstrokes and textures. Palette knives are also great for creating bold and impasto effects in abstract paintings.
  • Mark-making tools: Experiment with various mark-making tools, such as sponges, rollers, or even unconventional objects like credit cards or toothbrushes. These tools can add interesting textures and patterns to your artwork.
  • Mediums and additives: Explore the use of mediums and additives to modify the properties of your paint. These can include gels, pastes, or pouring mediums that can alter the viscosity, transparency, or drying time of the paint.
  • Mixed media: Incorporate other materials into your abstract paintings, such as collage elements, found objects, or even unconventional materials like sand, fabric, or metal. Mixed media can add depth, texture, and visual interest to your artwork.

Remember, the best materials for abstract painting are ultimately the ones that allow you to freely express your creativity and achieve the desired outcome. Experimentation and personal preference play a significant role in discovering the materials that work best for you.

Acrylics are a great choice for beginners because they dry quickly and are easy to work with. You’ll also want to choose brushes that are appropriate for your style of painting – soft bristles for blending colors together, stiffer bristles for creating texture, etc.

Creating loose composition
Sketching out some ideas

Create a Composition

Once you have your materials ready, it’s time to create a composition for your painting. This is where you decide what elements will be included in your painting and how they will be arranged on the canvas. Consider the size of your canvas and how much space each element should take up in relation to the others. Think about color palettes that will work well together and shapes that will create interesting visual effects. Don’t be afraid to experiment – try different compositions until you find one that works for you!

Here are three tips for composing abstract paintings;

  1. Explore and experiment: Allow yourself to explore different compositions and experiment with various elements, such as shapes, lines, colors, and textures. Embrace the freedom of abstraction and try different arrangements to find what feels visually appealing to you.
  2. Consider balance and movement: Pay attention to the balance and movement within your composition. Seek harmony between different elements and ensure there is a sense of flow and energy in your artwork. Experiment with asymmetry, symmetry, and the placement of focal points to create visual interest.
  3. Trust your intuition: Abstract art often relies on intuition and personal expression. Trust your instincts and allow your emotions and instincts to guide your composition. Don’t be afraid to take risks and let your creativity shine through. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers in abstract art, so embrace your unique vision.
Artist starting an abstract painting
Photo by Mathilde Langevin / Unsplash

Start Painting

Now it’s time to start painting! Begin by laying down some base colors on your canvas – these can be solid blocks of color or more subtle gradients depending on what effect you want to achieve. Once this is done, start adding more detail with smaller brushstrokes or palette knife marks. Think about how each element interacts with the others – do some areas need more texture or contrast? Keep experimenting until you find something that looks good!

Here are my top tips for starting an abstract painting;

  1. Intuitive Approach: Begin with an open mind and let your intuition guide you. Start by making spontaneous brushstrokes or marks on the canvas without a predetermined plan. Allow the shapes, colors, and textures to evolve organically, responding to the marks you’ve made as you go along.
  2. Inspirational Source: Find inspiration from a source outside of yourself, such as a photograph, nature, or music. Use the colors, shapes, or emotions from the source as a starting point for your abstract painting. You can either directly interpret the inspiration or abstract it further by simplifying or distorting the elements.
  3. Color Exploration: Select a color palette that evokes a certain mood or emotion you want to convey in your painting. Start by applying blocks or washes of color on the canvas, exploring how they interact and blend together. Gradually build up layers, experimenting with different color combinations and techniques to create depth and visual interest.
Add some finishing touches
Add some finishing touches

Finish Your Painting

Once all of the elements of your composition are in place, it’s time to finish up your painting by adding any final touches such as highlights or shadows. Consider adding some finishing touches such as varnish or gloss if desired. When you’re happy with the results, sign your name on the back of the canvas so everyone knows who created it!

Here are my top tips for knowing when the painting is finished;

Knowing when an abstract painting is finished can be subjective and depends on the artist’s intention and personal aesthetic sensibilities. However, here are three indicators that an abstract painting may be considered finished:

  • Visual Balance: Step back and assess the overall composition and balance of elements in your painting. Look for a sense of harmony and visual equilibrium. If the elements feel well-distributed, and there is a satisfying visual balance, it may be a sign that the painting is complete.
  • Emotional Impact: Consider the emotional impact and the message you intended to convey with your painting. Reflect on whether the painting evokes the desired emotions or communicates the intended concept. If you feel that the emotional essence you aimed for has been captured, it could indicate that the painting is finished.
  • Intuitive Feeling: Trust your intuition and inner artistic sensibility. Sometimes, there is a moment when you simply feel that the painting is complete. It may be a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of resolution, or an instinctual understanding that any further adjustments would detract from the overall effect. Listen to your intuition and trust your artistic judgment.

Ultimately, the decision of when an abstract painting is finished rests with the artist. It may be helpful to take breaks, step back, and revisit the painting with fresh eyes to gain a clearer perspective on its completion.

Final Thoughts

Abstract paintings can be incredibly rewarding when done correctly – follow these steps and you’ll soon have a beautiful piece of art!