8 Ways to Start an Abstract Painting

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Some students shared at the start  of the workshop that simply starting a painting can be daunting, so we brainstormed together 8 ways you can start an abstract painting using acrylics. If you are at the beginning and staring at a white canvas and don’t know where to start, this blog is for you!

  1. Choose a colour or colour scheme and start making marks and gestures with that colour. You could mix that colour with black and white and create a range of colours from that single colour.
  2. Choose a specific composition and adhere to that structure with your painting. For example: horizontal or vertical composition.
  3. Make some drips and splashes on your canvas with watered down acrylic paint and see what forms, go from there.
  4. Using your paint brush, fingers, foam brush, paper towel & other tools put marks on your canvas, asking yourself; “How can I do this differently?” Challenge yourself to make each stroke different in some way.
  5. Get clear on a theme or meaning for your painting and let that guide you. For example, your painting could be about love so you would start painting in a way that defines love visually for you.
  6. Look at some shadow shapes around you and use this lines and shapes to create negative/positive space areas for your painting.
  7. Look at another painting or photograph you like and attempt to copy it- make some changes to it so it’ll become yours as you go !
  8. Use a view finder on an existing painting or image and zoom in on an area you really like that could work on its own as a painting. Use that localized portion of the painting as your inspiration for your new painting.

Above Photo – Deb Chaney doing a painting demo at the ‘Layers & Process Workshop’ today a the Pacific Northwest Art Institute on Whidbey Island. Deb Chaney – portfolio www.debchaney.com – workshops – www.IlluminateTheArtistWithin.com.

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