10 Creative Techniques for Abstract Painting

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10 Creative Techniques for Abstract Painting

Abstract painting is one of the most liberating art forms on the planet. No matter what level of artistic ability a person has, they are still candidates for being adept abstract painters. In fact, various animals have even been trained to pick up a paintbrush or use their paws to create works of art! If a cat or an elephant can do it, it's safe to say any human of any age or ability can do it. Here are 10 creative abstract painting technique ideas that can help get the creative juices flowing.


1. Don’t Plan Too Much

One of the best ways to start out with abstract painting is by not planning too much. With this technique, use intuition for every phase -- from laying out a colour palette to composing the painting to actually fleshing it out with strokes of paint. Get into a meditative state and let inspiration take over. Use affordable painting materials like cheap Masonite boards and acrylic paints and be open to having first attempts not turn out. Don't worry -- really bad results can always be covered with gesso and used again.


2. Abstract Something Familiar

While abstract paintings don't have to have a specific or apparent subject at all, it can be fun to choose a very literal scene or subject and create an abstract interpretation of it. Consider doing an abstract painting of a landscape, a bowl of fruit, a toaster, or a friend and see what happens.


3. Mondrian Shapes

The artist Piet Mondrian was an accomplished abstract painter who was well-known for his simple but compelling use of shapes, lines and colour. Pull up a few images of his work on the Internet and try to mimic his basic geometric style, which is characterised by straight, intersecting lines, staggered cubes and rectangles, and primary colours, but the style can be modified to fit any artistic temperament.


4. Artful Splatters

If there's room to be messy without making too much of a mess in a home studio, the splatter technique can be one of the most fun and liberating. Popularised by the artist Jackson Pollock in the mid-20th century, it involves laying a canvas on the ground and dripping runny paint (the consistency of house paint or even more runny) onto the canvas in layers. Experiment with allowing different colour layers to dry between applications, or try finishing an entire painting in one splatter session.


5. Limited Colour Palette

While it's always fun to have the full range of paint colours at one's fingertips, it can be creatively challenging to limit the number of colours used to just two or three and see what transpires.


6. Palette Knife Painting

While using a paintbrush is the traditional way to paint, it isn't the only way. A number of artists use nothing but a palette knife to apply paint to canvas for some really rich, compelling effects.


7. Say it with Texture

Who says paintings have to stay 2-D? Adding some texture is easy to do, and it can bring a whole new dimension to a painting. The palette knife technique described in number 5 is a great way to accomplish this. Adding thickening mediums and gels to the paint helps as well, but be aware that additional drying time will be required.


8. Try Cubism

The Cubist art movement was popularised by artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Paul Klee. Cubism begins with "real world" subject matter, then abstracts it by depicting it with its most basic shapes and elements. Distortion is allowed or even encouraged; allow emotion and intuition to guide how the subject is portrayed.


9. Add Collage Elements

Who says paintings are limited to just paint as a medium? Try changing things up dramatically by incorporating photos, clippings from magazines, sequins and small objects artistically embedded into the paint. Thickening agents such as gel medium can help to make the painting surface more conducive to this technique.


10. Paint an Emotion

Having an objective or putting parameters on a painting is an excellent way to get focused and get results. Consider choosing abstract parameters for an abstract painting, such as trying to express a feeling or emotion in the work.



While many people lament that they just don't have artistic talent, the genre of abstract painting removes that excuse for not trying one's hand at art. Art supplies are an awesome gift idea that just might be the start of a very rewarding hobby. Whether a novice or a seasoned professional, anyone can use these 10 abstract painting technique ideas to create art that makes an impact.

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