Tips on Abstract Painting Techniques

A colorful bird on a map

We hear many different views and opinions on abstract artwork and it can be quite controversial. So many people think it’s easy and anyone could do it. If that’s the case, why aren’t THEY doing it?? Not everyone will understand an abstract piece, but we know most artwork requires serious skill. It all comes down to the 3 basics: composition, color, and texture. If you go into an abstract piece without keeping these three things in mind, you will be totally lost. For the beginner out there, read on for the 3 basic components explained as well as 8 killer techniques to help you get started today.

The 3 Components of an Abstract Painting

A painting of a graffiti covered wall
  • Composition: Composition is the placement of objects or the focal point of your painting. It’s the shape, size, and placement of your objects on the canvas.
  • Color: We advise against throwing a million different colors on a canvas and calling it a day. Really think through your color palette. Choose only a few colors to use in your piece and be creative. Mix colors instead of using them straight from the tube. We recommend the basics (red, yellow, and blue) and you can create endless colors from there.
  • Texture: Texture can really make an abstract painting stand out. There are various ways to create texture in your painting, the simplest being to apply the paint on thickly. You can also use various mediums to achieve different looks. The important thing is to keep your texture consistent. Don’t go overboard and try to do too many different things in one painting. It just won’t work. If you want to try out a bunch of different techniques, do a practice painting first!

8 Abstract art techniques

Background pattern
  • Flip the canvas: This is so much fun! Start by painting something in the room. Then turn the canvas around and continue painting something else in the room. Keep flipping your canvas as you paint to get a jumbled and interesting painting.
  • Play with the background: There are so many techniques you can play around with in an abstract painting. Try letting the paint drip down the canvas. Incorporate different textures. Use your imagination to create a stunning background.
  • Let go of the rules: We’ve heard of artists completely letting go of control over the brush when they create abstract pieces. Let the brush do the work for you and see what happens!
  • Let music guide you: Play your favorite music as you paint. Let the beat control the colors that you mix, the brush strokes you put down, and the flow of the painting. This will give your painting rhythm!
  • Use paper to create a collage: Start collecting unique paper to use in your artwork. Even old phone books will work. Cut out various shapes and use them in your abstract painting. This will also add a unique texture to your artwork.
  • Use photography as a reference: An easy way to create reference photos for your abstract painting is to take pictures of interesting objects and crop them in a unique way. Make it fun and include objects with different colors, textures, and shapes.
  • Create semi-abstract paintings: Maybe total abstract pieces aren’t your thing and that’s ok. Another option for you is a semi-abstract piece. This would be a recognizable object painted in a unique and abstract way
  • Play around with different mediums: Abstract art doesn’t have to be a painting. You could also use pastels or charcoal. Get creative and try out different mediums in your abstract piece.
  • If abstract art is totally foreign to you, you may become frustrated if your painting doesn’t come out the way you wanted it to. Here’s our advice for that: PAINT OVER IT! Just do it again. Or try something different. It doesn’t have to (and probably won’t) be perfect the first time around. Take a deep breath and pick up your paintbrush again and continue on. You will get it. No one said it would be easy so stop being so hard on yourself!

These are some abstract painting techniques to keep in mind.

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