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Abstract Painting With Acrylics

Sarah is a certified Hatha, Vinyasa, & Kundalini yoga teacher. She is an artist who believes in the importance of living a creative life.

Painting abstract expressionism with acrylics.

Painting abstract expressionism with acrylics.

Abstract Expression

The freedom and the challenge of abstract painting is that it doesn’t have to look like anything in particular. Although there isn’t an image for the conscious mind to immediately recognize, abstract art has the potential to reach into the vast depth of the subconscious mind. Colors, shape, and form have the ability to communicate emotion, and invoke an experience within the viewer.

The process of creating abstract art can also be immensely valuable for the artist as well. It is a space of self-discovery and exploration. However, the only way to really know any of this is to see for yourself!


Prepare the Surface

The first thing you will want to consider for you abstract art, is the surface you will be painting on. I recommend a nice large canvas. You can find stretched canvas that already has a prime coat at any arts and crafts store. Alternatively, you can prepare your own surface by coating your chosen material with gesso. Gesso is usually white and is what the acrylic paints will stick to.


Apply the First Layer

Beginning any art project can be intimidating. The trick to starting your abstract painting is to just go for it. You can do no wrong, and there are no mistakes, just opportunities. The idea here is to just cover the entire surface of the canvas. You can use a single color or many. Don’t worry if you “like” how this first layer turns out, because one of the great things about acrylic paints is that it is great for layering.

Once the surface is covered it‘s a good idea to take a break and let your painting dry. This also will allow you to look at what you have so far with fresh eyes for the next phase.


Creative Experimentation

Now that your surface is covered, it’s time to have fun and experiment! I am always learning more about color and form each time I paint. Some things you can consider for your next layer is varying the size of your paint brush, adding a different color, or making different kinds of marks. I outlined some shapes that already existed in the first layer, and painted over other areas. Try working for a set period of time and then stop once again to let everything dry.

Take time between layers to examine your piece. Are there places that feel more exciting than others? Perhaps there are some areas that you just don‘t like. Ask yourself, why don’t I like it? You may be surprised to find that you actually learn a lot about yourself in the art making process! I recommend taking photos through out your process so that you can see how your work changes and evolves.


Appreciate Your Work

Sometimes it can be hard to tell when an abstract painting is finished. Sometimes you just get a sense of completeness. Other times you just need to stop and perhaps go back at a later time to add to the painting in the future. There have been several paintings of mine that I have worked on over months and even years. It’s fun to watch them transform.

So whether you consider your piece finished or a work in process, I encourage you to display your work proudly. You may not love it, but your art is still a visual confirmation that you went for it. You created something and brought it into the physical world.