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Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Abstract Painting

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Marian (a.k.a. Azure11) has been working as a professional artist since 2006 and has sold over 600 paintings in that time.

Abstract painting by author, varnished, (c) Azure11, 2011

Abstract painting by author, varnished, (c) Azure11, 2011

Creating Your Own Abstract Painting

Interested in creating abstract paintings of your own?

From start to finish, here's how I created the abstract painting shown above. The painting is textured and uses acrylic paint. It's one in a series that I created a while ago; it sold relatively soon after it was finished.

Please note that the copyright of this painting remains with me. The information I give here can be used for the following:

  • You can try to create a copy if it is for your personal use and will not be sold on or given on for monetary or another gain (i.e you are using it as a practice exercise).
  • Create a painting that uses a similar technique but where the finished painting does not resemble my own artwork.

If you have any queries about how you can use this then please send me a message.

Step 1: Texturing the Canvas

The first step was to mix up some texture to apply to the canvas—I make my own texture and you can find the details in my Make Your Own Texture article.

I applied this with a cake slice all over the canvas and made various marks and scrapings into the wet texture to provide some interest. In doing this I used the rule of thirds and the golden mean to decide where the focal points of the painting would be to get a good composition.

Once I was happy with the texture that I applied I then left that to dry overnight.

The texture is applied to the canvas.

The texture is applied to the canvas.

Step 2: First Coats of Acrylic Paint

Once the texture is dry, I applied a coat of slightly watered-down white paint all over the canvas so that all the texture and the cracks in it were covered by the white paint. This is just to give a good base to work with and means that the whole canvas is now covered in paint so you don't have to worry if subsequent coats don't cover everything.

Once the white paint was dry, I decided I wanted some highlights of other colors so I applied purple and yellow to some scraped-out areas.

Next, I applied a coat of very watered-down Prussian blue acrylic paint to the whole canvas. Prussian blue is a very dark blue and one of my favorite acrylic colors. I made sure that the paint (although it was more like dark blue water) got into all the cracks that I had created with the texture.

After painting with white, a few highlights of colour, and then a wash of Prussian blue.

After painting with white, a few highlights of colour, and then a wash of Prussian blue.

Step 3: Applying More Acrylic Paint

So I tend to use a lot of paint in my abstract acrylic art and this painting was no different. I applied several different coats of paint of different thicknesses - whether that be directly from the tube or watered down or else with a dry brush technique—there is a list of how to apply acrylic paint in one of my other articles.

For this painting, I used several different colors including permanent green middle and light, process cyan, Prussian blue as well as metallic blue and green (beautiful colors).

The paints I use are artist's quality and usually either Winsor and Newton Galeria acrylic paints or else Daler Rowney System 3 paints—it just depends on what I can get hold of in which colors.

In some of the coats of acrylic paint I would apply the paint, let it dry for a short while (30 seconds say), and then wipe some of the paint off with a wet household sponge (see picture). This takes the paint back to the previous color. On other coats, I used dry brushing to just apply small amounts of paint to the top of the texture. make sure you have virtually no paint on your brush though!

Step 4: Last Coats

Near the end of the painting, I applied some gold powder onto the tops of the texture and I also rubbed it into the cracks of some of the other textures. You can also get a similar effect by dry-brushing gold or silver paint on top of the other layers.

Once all the painting is complete and I am happy with the finished effect I paint the canvas sides with two coats of paint using a sponge. in this case, I used a mix of blue and green.

Gold powder is applied to the greener part of the painting.

Gold powder is applied to the greener part of the painting.

Step 5: Finishing the Painting

To finish the painting I use a coat of very heavy gloss varnish to bring out the colors. The varnish I use—although it says clear gloss—actually has a yellow tinge to it so should not be used for anything with white in, but it gives a nice warmth to other paintings.

Here are details of the finished painting.

Here are details of the finished painting.

More About Abstract Painting

Questions & Answers

Question: What material did you use to create raw texture in your abstract painting?

Answer: There is a link in the text after 'Step 1' which takes you to my article about creating texture which is here:

Question: When varnishing a textured painting, how do you keep the varnish from welling or pooling around textured places?

Answer: I have never had the varnish pool on a painting as I use a brush to put it on. Sometimes if the texture is very rough or difficult to get a brush into then I will use a spray varnish.

© 2011 Marian L


Marian L (author) from UK on September 23, 2016:

Sorry I have only just seen your comment. it's difficult to say without seeing it but it could have been done with stones and maybe resin or clay polymer modelling perhaps.

Artsygal on August 05, 2016:

How intriguing!

I saw a painting in a gallery and it looked like there were melted globs of polished turquoise stones all in one magnificent multi glob. Any idea how this is done?

Marian L (author) from UK on March 21, 2016:

Hi, the artist is myself and you can get more information on this technique at

Mercedes on March 20, 2016:

thank. Can you tell me the artist name please? I like it very much and I'm interested to follow him

Marian L (author) from UK on November 02, 2014:

Thanks HA1, yes I think you could go in any direction with the white textured base with or without too much colour.

Wendy Hughes from Charlotte on November 02, 2014:

I liked the white textured canvas from the first step. White when used like you did, here can be so many 'different' works of art depending on the time of day and the space's lighting. LOVE the blue in the finished piece!

CherylsArt on August 30, 2014:

I love the look. Beautiful!

Marian L (author) from UK on May 28, 2012:

Thanks a lot Carl

carlarmes from Bournemouth, England on May 28, 2012:

I must say I am very impressed with your work and am glad you shared some of your techniques with us.

Natasha from Hawaii on May 20, 2012:

Wow! This is awesome! I usually paint miniatures (as in figures) and have never really branched out in to bigger pieces, but this makes me want to try.

Marian L (author) from UK on April 02, 2012:

Thanks yougotme, nice hub yourself

Renz Kristofer Cheng from Manila on April 01, 2012:

Oh, by the way, I got some inspiration from this hub that made me make one hub about abstracts:

Renz Kristofer Cheng from Manila on March 31, 2012:

Great artwork from a great artist! Keep it up!

megni on March 15, 2012:

Fascinating. I love art in its forms.

nityanandagaurang on January 12, 2012:

my one hobby is painting,but i had left it because of some circumstance.Your blog has prompted me to start my this hobby again.thanks very nice hub

Marian L (author) from UK on January 03, 2012:

Thanks herrannick, it is amazing what you can take from abstract art so I hope you give it a try.

herrannick from Miami,Florida on January 02, 2012:

Great article, Great art! Personally I have never painted in abstract, but I find it incredible that as artists absrtact painters have the ability to convey a hidden depth to art work that is powerful enough to evoke the strongest of emotions.

Marian L (author) from UK on December 30, 2011:

kajal, thanks, yes you can use anything you like to put the texture on the canvas - for me a cake slice is the best thing that I have found but I also use spreaders that you can get from DIY stores for use with tile adhesive etc - basically try out anything and experiment with what works best.

Just to add that this painting was sold a few months ago :-)

kajal ramnani on December 29, 2011:

g8 job!i wanted to ask you that can anything else be used other then cake slice to change the texture of the canvas??

Marian L (author) from UK on December 29, 2011:

Thanks magdalene, have fun painting!

Magdelene from Okotoks on December 29, 2011:

Very nice Azure, gives me some really good ideas; I have never created an abstract painting as of yet but this prompts me to do so in the near future. Great Hub, voted up.

Marian L (author) from UK on December 21, 2011:

Yes this varnish does give a warmer tone to the colours. If you want one that doesn't then try using an oil paint gloss varnish for paintings. I use this one as it gives a much glossier finish.

Jeff on December 21, 2011:

Does the varnish you use seem to effect the overall color of the painting even if there is no white in the painting?

irenemaria from Sweden on November 25, 2011:

I love this hub. I like that you show step by step photos too. I want to try now.

Marian L (author) from UK on October 10, 2011:

Thanks diydiva - am also following back as I am a total DIY fan too - I always try and do something myself first before I get an expert in lol :-)

Kay Mitchell from California on October 10, 2011:

I love this! I have only been painting for a few years and am always looking for new sources of inspiration and training! Following; Thanks!

noeledmonds on September 20, 2011:

hi i am neol and i like you hub

Travel Chef from Manila on August 26, 2011:

Amazing work of art! I'm into drawing but never really worked on doing some painting seriously. Maybe I can try your step by step abstract painting too. Thanks for sharing!

QueenKnobster on July 10, 2011:

Very Nice Work! thanks for sharing~


WE5 on April 01, 2011:

Good job! I've done many paintings but never an abstract...well, never set out to do an abstract anyways! I enjoyed your hub.

youmeget on March 15, 2011:

What a gift!

I'm an abstract thinking person.

Great work


imatellmuva from Somewhere in Baltimore on March 09, 2011:

Oh I will...and thanks for your interest!!!

Marian L (author) from UK on March 08, 2011:

Thanks, if you give it a go let me know how you get on!

imatellmuva from Somewhere in Baltimore on March 07, 2011:

Voted up...and I think I may give this a shot. I read your other hub on 'make your own texture', and now I'm even more intrigued.

Marian L (author) from UK on March 03, 2011:

Thanks June

June McEwan from The Works 8 Mitchell Street Crieff Scotland PH7 3AG on March 03, 2011:

Good finish. Has depth.

Marian L (author) from UK on March 01, 2011:

I think you are right FGual, but then I am biased!

FGual from USA on March 01, 2011:

Beauty on Canvas will never go out of style