Robie is an artist who loves sharing what she has learned about art and painting in the hope that it might help other creatives.
It's Fun to Paint Abstracts With Acrylics
Acrylic paint is a very versatile medium that can be used in different ways to obtain a wide array of effects.
You can use the paint thickly, right from the tube, or thickened even more with a gel or a paste medium. You can also dilute to a watercolor consistency with water or acrylic medium.
The characteristic of acrylic of being fast drying provides a lot of opportunities to experiment with creative techniques and unusual painting tools without having to wait a long time for the previous layers of paint to dry.
You Will Need
Below is the list of materials needed for this particular project.
- A 11"x14" canvas
- Acrylic paints
- A large flat brush
- A round brush
- 1-inch painter's tape or masking tape
- Bubble wrap
1. Choose Your Color Scheme
You can go different ways with the background colors. You may use the same colors I used, or pick a different color combination.
To find ideas and inspirations for the colors I like to look at a color wheel.
On one side of the color wheel, you should find a scheme with all kinds of color combinations: monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split complementary, triadic, or tetradic.
Turn the wheel and see how colors combine together. Find a combination that you like, or you can use the one from my example.
I picked the colors below inspired by the lively triadic color scheme in my neighbor's living room.
- Ultramarine Blue
- Cerulean Blue
- Raw Sienna
- Burnt Sienna
- Medium Magenta
- Hansa Yellow Light.
2. Start Painting on Your Canvas
Using a wide brush, paint the canvas with elongated areas of each color.
Try to use the colors with balance, positioning each color so it complements and balances the others
Use the brightest color with an awareness of how dominant it becomes compared to the others
In my case the brightest color is yellow, and I chose to use it sparingly.
Keep adding paint, dilute it a little with water to make sure it penetrates the white canvas, and covers all areas.
3. Create an Abstract Geometrical Pattern
Once you are happy with your background, you can start to create a geometric pattern with the masking tape.
I used a 1-inch painter's tape. The goal is to create a pattern with tape and then paint over the tape.
Under the tape, the background will remain unchanged and the new paint layer will be visible only in the gaps between tapes.
To made the zig-zag pattern, cut several pieces of tape of the same length and place them on the canvas at a 90-degree angle. Warning: this part is quite time-consuming and requires patience.
I cut my strips of tape about 2.5 inches long.
Start from a corner and apply the strips leaving a consistent gap between each one.
Look at the corners of the rectangles of tape, and make sure they align as in the images below.
4. Paint Over the Masking Tape With a Contrasting Color
When the tape is all placed, you can paint over with a color of your choice.
I picked the same pink I used on the background, but a yellow or even a bright white would have looked great.
You could also go dark and use a black for your geometrical pattern.
The more contrast the more your pattern will stand out.
Painting over the tape, don't make the paint too thin or it will seep under the tape.
5. Peel the Tape Off When Dry
When the paint is dry, peel off your tape and reveal the pattern.
I could have stopped here, this is already a nice abstract painting, but I went the extra step adding a random dotted pattern using bubble wrap as a painting tool.
6. Use Bubble Wrap With Acrylic Paint
To make the composition less geometric, I added a polka-dot pattern using the same colors of my background and applying the paint with bubble wrap.
To keep the pattern looking more organic and less geometric, I cut the bubble wrap with curvy lines.
Water down your paint, rub the bubble-wrap on it, bubble side down, then apply on your painting, pressing down.
Again, try to balance the colors and sizes of the dotted areas, in order to make a pleasant color combination.
7. Manually Adjust Color Balance With Your Brush
After I did this, my geometric pattern tended to "disappear" and blend with the background, and my yellow bubble marks seemed too bright in comparison.
To balance it out I traced parts of the pink zig-zag pattern with yellow paint, using a thin round brush. That helped to bring the geometric lines forward and the masses of yellow dots less overwhelming.
The Finished Product
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: I want to paint a tee shirt. A friend did one for me years ago with acrylics. I wore it for 15 years, hand washed. Do I need to iron the painting after it dries?
Answer: Yes, after I paint with acrylics on a t-shirt I like to fix the color with heat. A hot cycle in the dryer helps, but I always add also a press with the iron, for good measures.
I haven't done this recently, but I have been wearing hand-painted shirts for years, and I even throw them in the washer; they faded a bit, but still ok.
© 2013 Robie Benve
Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on July 04, 2020:
That's wonderful to hear, Audrey! I love to experiment using everyday cheap objects as painting applicators, bubble wrap is one of them. I love how the geometrically placed circles create an organic effect due to their different air content and surface imperfections. Its the kind of little things that make a strong impression. :)
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on July 04, 2020:
Using bubble wrap is new to me and I like the effect. I've been trying my hand with abstract painting...it really appeals to me. Thanks for this informative and fun tutorial!
Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on February 12, 2013:
Hi Glimmer Twin Fan and Shyron E Shenko.
Thanks a lot for the compliments, I'm happy you liked the hub. :)
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on February 07, 2013:
How awesomely beautiful!
Claudia Mitchell on February 07, 2013:
This is really beautiful. It could be a piece of fabric and looks like fun to do. Great hub. Up, awesome, beautiful and pinned.
Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on February 04, 2013:
Thanks SaritaJBonita, I love your enthusiasm for new creative ideas. Happy painting! :)
Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on February 03, 2013:
Hi carol7777 and europewalker, I love the fast drying time of acrylics too. definitely useful for trying out new techniques. Thanks a lot for your comments and support!
SaritaJBonita on February 01, 2013:
Great Hub! I love the idea of using bubble wrap, it's genius. I can imagine a whole variety of ways to use these tools. Thank you, voted up, shared, and pinned!
europewalker on February 01, 2013:
Nice hub and photos. I like painting abstracts and prefer acrylic paint only because it dries fast. Voted up.
carol stanley from Arizona on February 01, 2013:
As always I enjoy your art hubs. Great photos and I love the painting. I do acrylics but have started back with oils. Love them but don't like the long drying time. Voting UP and pinning.