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  • Writer's pictureSue

How To Create Abstract Art

So what is abstract art and how do you paint an abstract piece ?

This is a definition from the Tate ;

" Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect"

From an early age I have had been fascinated by abstract art.

I love the vibrant colours, the shapes and the textures created. and the emotion they can create.

So when I re found my love of painting I wanted to create my own abstracts.

Easy then I thought, lets set up and get painting ! But wait is it that easy ?

Where do you start ?

Surely you just throw some paint on a canvas and move it around or make shapes I heard people say.

Abstract painting Sue O'Sullivan
Waves !

This is probably one of my first attempts on canvas and after a few other experiments I came to realise that this was not an easy style of art..

I soon realised that some research was needed and I learnt that some of my issues were caused by my left brain trying to take control and make the painting "look" like something..

How then does an artist "let go" and create that striking abstraction..

Creating art is therapeutic, relaxing but I was stressed, trying too hard to find that place where I could create abstraction.

Journey of Discovery

The start of my journey forward with this style turned out to be listening to music, chilled out or meditative music worked really well. Playing music in the background helped me relax and let go while I painted. I highly recommend trying this. Sometimes it’s good to just close your eyes, breathe deeply and let the music wash over you before you begin to paint.

I discovered a lot during my early experimenting and began to find my own style. .I had great fun trying things other than brushes to achieve the sort of effects that I loved. I built up a collection of items to use to create different effects. Some things I have used include a rolling pin, credit cards and tooth brushes, let me know what you have used!

Experimenting with other mediums adds another dimension to your work. I have used modeling paste for great texture and I also love gloss gel medium which increases viscosity and texture as well as creating a sheen. I would recommend you research what is out there as there are lots to try.

If you are unsure where to start there are some amazing artists tips on social media channels great for learning and discovering new techniques.

Painting Process

I can honestly say that when I set up to paint an abstract now I don't have an idea of how it will end up.

I am creating from within, from a feeling.

I generally have a colour palette in mind, usually made up of 3 or 4 colours and I set them out beside me.

Along side the paint I have folded pieces of card in various sizes, palette knives and a couple of large brushes.

Original Abstract painting Sue O'Sullivan
Red Mist

My current group of paintings usually begin with little spots of the various colours I am using along the edge of the canvas. I then use folded card to drag the paint across the canvas. I may apply more paint on the opposite edge depending on how I like the effect I am getting.

My next stage is to drag the card vertically up and down the work. The painting you see here was created using this technique. The background was created with a dry brush sweeping across just grabbing a hint of colour from the middle and working outwards.

When I tire of the cardboard I use palette knives to create more paint layers until I like the effect..

The next issue for me is when is a painting finished ?

I like to place my art where I see it all the time in my home, where I walk past it and get a feel of what else I want to add, if anything, and also I can see it in different lights.

After a few days I either get ideas of what else needs adding or I am happy with how it looks and I leave well alone and its time to think about the next piece !

This is really just the start of my abstract journey, as I progress I look forward to sharing more with you.

I hope it has been of help in some small way.

You can see a selection of my current works here

I'd love to hear how your journey evolves so please feel free to leave a comment.

Thank you.

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