A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Abstract Painting

Updated on December 20, 2017
Azure11 profile image

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

Textured Abstract Painting - 'Underworld'

The painting after I have varnished it, (c) Azure11, 2011
The painting after I have varnished it, (c) Azure11, 2011

Start Creating Your Own Painting

So this article brings together a few of my previous ones into a practical use of those 'how to' guides and shows from start to finish how I create the particular abstract painting shown above which is textured and uses acrylic paint.

The painting is one in a series that I created a while ago and that sold pretty soon after finishing it.

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

  • you can try to create a copy if it is for your own personal use and will not be sold on or given on for monetary or other gain (i.e you are using it as a practice exercise)
  • to 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.

Step 1 - texture is applied to the canvas
Step 1 - 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 colours 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 favourite acrylic colours. 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.

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 a number of 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 a number of different colours including permanent green middle and light, process cyan, prussian blue as well as metallic blue and green (beautiful colours!). The paints I use are artists 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 colours.

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 colour you have used. 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!

Wipe off some of the paint with a wet household sponge.
Wipe off some of the paint with a wet household sponge.
The painting once it had a number of coats of acrylic paint applied
The painting once it had a number of coats of acrylic paint applied

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 texture. 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 2 coats of paint using a sponge. in this case I used a mix of blue and green.

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

Finishing the Painting

To finish the painting I use a coat of a very heavy gloss varnish to really bring out the colours. 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.

Details of the finished painting.
Details of the finished painting.

Questions & Answers

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

    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.

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

    There is a link in the text after 'Step 1' which takes you to my article about creating texture which is here: https://feltmagnet.com/painting/Create-Your-Own-Pa...

© 2011 Marian L


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    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      2 years ago from UK

      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.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      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?

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      3 years ago from UK

      Hi, the artist is myself and you can get more information on this technique at www.painting-texture.com

    • profile image


      3 years ago

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

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      4 years ago from UK

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

    • HomeArtist1 profile image

      Wendy Hughes 

      4 years ago from Charlotte

      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 profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      4 years ago from West Virginia

      I love the look. Beautiful!

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks a lot Carl

    • carlarmes profile image


      6 years ago from Bournemouth, England

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

    • Natashalh profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      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.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks yougotme, nice hub yourself

    • yougotme profile image

      Renz Kristofer Cheng 

      7 years ago from Manila

      Oh, by the way, I got some inspiration from this hub that made me make one hub about abstracts: https://hubpages.com/art/Things-You-Need-to-Know-A...

    • yougotme profile image

      Renz Kristofer Cheng 

      7 years ago from Manila

      Great artwork from a great artist! Keep it up!

    • megni profile image


      7 years ago

      Fascinating. I love art in its forms.

    • nityanandagaurang profile image


      7 years ago

      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

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

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

    • herrannick profile image


      7 years ago from Miami,Florida

      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.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      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 :-)

    • profile image

      kajal ramnani 

      7 years ago

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

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      Thanks magdalene, have fun painting!

    • Magdelene profile image


      7 years ago from Okotoks

      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.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      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.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • irenemaria profile image


      7 years ago from Sweden

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

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      7 years ago from UK

      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 :-)

    • diydiva profile image

      Kay Mitchell 

      7 years ago from California

      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 profile image


      7 years ago

      hi i am neol and i like you hub

    • dredcuan profile image

      Dred Cuan 

      7 years ago from California

      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 profile image


      7 years ago

      Very Nice Work! thanks for sharing~


    • WE5 profile image


      8 years ago

      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 profile image


      8 years ago

      What a gift!

      I'm an abstract thinking person.

      Great work


    • imatellmuva profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

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

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      8 years ago from UK

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

    • imatellmuva profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      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.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      8 years ago from UK

      Thanks June

    • June McEwan profile image

      June McEwan 

      8 years ago from The Works 8 Mitchell Street Crieff Scotland PH7 3AG

      Good finish. Has depth.

    • Azure11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marian L 

      8 years ago from UK

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

    • FGual profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Beauty on Canvas will never go out of style


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