How to Begin an Abstract Painting

Jim Hardiman Thoughts Leave a Comment

Here is an idea of how to begin an abstract painting. This approach could be used as an art activity for children, or become the starting point for a more complicated painting. 

You will need to gesso a canvas, and cut some shapes of plastic from a yoghurt container lid as well as your and paint brushes, water container, paper towel, hairdryer, white and black acrylic paint.  Remember to stand as you paint to allow your arms to remain loose. 

  1. Draw 3 - 4 black lines of paint on your canvas so they randomly start and stop on adjacent or opposite edges of the painting surface.  Dry this with the hairdryer. In image #1, notice the lines cross over each other and create shapes. Rotate your canvas a 1/4 turn occasionally to explore the arrangement of line, shape and value. 
  2. Mixed  white and black to make grey and fill some of these shapes. At this stage, you can also combine several shapes to make a large shaped area. Dry with a hairdryer.
  3. With black, paint, decide where this, your darkest value, will be placed. Dry your painting again.
  4. Use thick white paint to randomly alter some of the black lines and the shapes.  Allow this to become heavily textured and have some fun as you score into this using your plastic card and drag through the thick wet paint.  Allow this to dry
  5. Finally, once everything is dry, choose your favourite colour and water it down so that you can drizzle and drip it onto your painting in select areas. Turn the painting up-and-down to channel the drips around the painting. Let this dry.  You now have the beginning of an imaginative composition, which allows you to seek interesting sections to later develop with colour. Use your imagination! 
  6. This image and the one at the top of the post show how I have started this idea.



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