Two Simple Abstract Painting Ideas

This article delves into two simple yet profound abstract painting ideas that artists can experiment with, regardless of their skill level. The first idea explores the three areas of an object, focusing on the edges, outside, and inside to create a multi-dimensional perspective. The second concept emphasizes the art of exaggeration, encouraging artists to amplify aspects of their subject matter to evoke stronger emotions or responses. These approaches to how to paint abstract art are designed to inspire creativity and challenge traditional perceptions of art, promising engaging and fulfilling experiences for both creators and appreciators of abstract works.

Two Simple Abstract Painting Ideas

Idea 1: Three Areas of an Object (edges, outside and inside)

Hard-edge painting, a style that gained prominence in the 1960s, is celebrated for its precision and clarity, employing flat colors and sharp, distinct edges. This technique plays a pivotal role in abstract painting, particularly in the exploration of three areas of an object: the edges, outside, and inside. Here’s how to approach these elements in your artwork:

  • Edges: The edges in abstract paintings are not mere boundaries but dynamic forces that convey the artist’s intent. To create effective edges:
    • Vary the width of the edges to inject movement and intrigue.
    • Blend edges when necessary to achieve smooth transitions between colors, combining sharp and soft edges for a balanced effect.
    • Treat both sides of an edge as organic extensions of the elements they separate.
  • Outside and Inside: Hard edge paintings often play with the illusion of space and depth, while ultimately denying it, which adds a layer of tension. To manipulate these areas:
    • Use color juxtapositions to create illusions of intersecting translucent forms.
    • For larger areas, ensure color consistency by mixing enough paint beforehand to avoid unintentional gradients.
    • Extend the painting to the canvas edges with the dominant color for a cohesive look, emphasizing the painting as an object in itself rather than a mere picture.

Understanding the nuanced relationship between hard edge painting and abstract expressionism is crucial. While both emerged around the mid-20th century, hard edge painting focuses on geometric precision, and abstract expressionism values emotion and individual expression. This distinction underscores the importance of technique and emotional intent in abstract art, especially when exploring the three areas of an object.

Two Simple Abstract Painting Ideas

Idea 2: The Art of Exaggeration

Exaggeration, as a tool in abstract painting, simplifies complexity while introducing an element of surprise and novelty. This approach not only distinguishes an artist’s work but also enhances the viewer’s experience by emphasizing certain features to evoke stronger emotions or responses. Here’s how artists can leverage exaggeration in their abstract paintings:

  • Techniques for Exaggeration:
    • Color Field Painting: Utilize large fields of flat, solid color to create a sense of depth and emotion. Soft, blurred edges can add a subtle complexity to the simplicity of the color fields.
    • Action Painting: Embrace spontaneity with quick, gestural brush strokes. This technique is perfect for conveying energy and emotion, making the painting more dynamic.
    • Hard-edge Painting: Employ sharp, clear edges between different areas of color to introduce a geometric precision into the artwork. This can create a striking contrast and a sense of order within the chaos of colors.
  • Application of Exaggeration:
    • Use stronger colors and bolder brush strokes to make certain elements stand out.
    • Experiment with the size of elements, making some disproportionately large to draw the viewer’s attention and add a dramatic flair.
    • Consider layering techniques to build depth and interest. Start with a gesso-prepped canvas, add color, and then incorporate textures or additional layers to enhance the exaggeration effect.

Artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock have masterfully used exaggeration in their abstract works, proving its effectiveness in creating memorable and evocative pieces. By exaggerating certain aspects of their paintings, artists can simplify the learning process, create mixed-media pieces with an exaggerated sense of light and color, and ultimately, make their artwork more engaging and memorable.

Materials Needed for Abstract Painting

Choosing Your Materials

Choosing the right materials is crucial for bringing abstract ideas to life in painting. The following outlines the essential tools and mediums for creating captivating abstract art pieces:

  • Tools for Precision and Texture:
    • Masking tape and various brush techniques for clean lines and corners.
    • A straight edge squeegee or Bondo spreader for sharp edges.
    • Molding paste for texture, lighter and slower drying than plaster.
    • Pouring medium for long drips, forming the base of many abstract pieces.
    • Acrylic paint, mixed with mediums for consistency and color.
    • Hardware store washers, pennies, and fabric for adding objects to the canvas.
    • Liquitex spatula and acrylic brushes, including Purdy brushes for drips and finishing touches.
  • Canvas and Paint:
    • Various canvas types, boards, and wood to encourage creativity.
    • Golden Fluid, Golden High Flow, and Liquitex soft body acrylics for quality color.
    • Golden Glazing Liquid, Airbrush Medium, and Soft Gel Gloss for glazing and layering.
  • Experimental Tools:
    • Princeton Catalyst Silicone Wedge and squeegees for texture and broad shapes.
    • Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS for finishing.
    • Experimentation with different materials to find a personal style and enjoy the process.


Through the exploration of the three areas of an object and the art of exaggeration, this article has aimed to unfold the complexities and availabilities within abstract painting, offering artists at all levels a pathway to richer expression and more dynamic creations. Both techniques open a realm where emotions, concepts, and artistic visions flourish beyond the boundaries of conventional art, underlining the importance of technique, material choice, and emotional intent in the creation of abstract art. These methodologies not only encourage artists to challenge their perceptions but also elevate the viewer’s experience, creating a profound connection between the artwork and its audience.

Acknowledging the transformative power of abstract art, the significance of these painting ideas extends beyond the canvas, influencing contemporary art discourse and nurturing an environment where creativity knows no bounds. As artists continue to experiment with these concepts, the potential for innovation and the evolution of abstract painting remains vast, promising an ever-expanding horizon for artistic exploration. Artists are thus encouraged to delve deeper into their creative practices, drawing inspiration from both the precision of hard-edge painting and the emotive capacity of exaggeration, to craft pieces that resonate with viewers on a multitude of levels.