Let’s Go Abstract: What You Need to Know About Getting Started in Abstract Art

No matter your style or personality, abstract art can be a simple way to start painting and have fun while doing it. That’s because abstract art is such a wonderfully accessible painting technique that anyone can learn.

So what do you do if you want to go abstract?

Start experimenting on paper with some paint or watercolor, just to see what will transform. Add a line here, some color there, maybe a few drips here and there. Start with drawing a line on canvas and use your finger to spread or smear it, or a dry brush to create a color gradient.

Start experimenting on paper with some paint or watercolor

All of a sudden, shapes and figures will seem to appear, sometimes even by accident. And as you paint more, those lines, shapes and figures will take on even greater emotional resonance. Let your heart guide you, not your brain. This ensures that you are painting what you actually feel, not what you think others want you to feel.

For example, consider the artwork of the famous abstract artist Jackson Pollock. He became famous largely by splashing paint on canvas and some people criticized him for that. And now look at him – he’s considered one of the true modern giants in the history of abstract art. There has even been a Hollywood film (“Pollock”) made about him.

It’s best to use acrylic paint because it’s not as messy. It’s also stress-free, which is key to keeping art fun. There are no rules in using acrylic paint. That freedom of movement creates a lot of interesting potential.

The artwork of Floy Ealy Edjole shows what’s possible in terms of creating your own piece of abstract art. Take, for example, her piece “Energy.” The gray represents the loss of her mother while the lines and the patch of white and purple speaks to her spirit and stability within. The yellow lines speak loudly to her joy, happiness, and energy as they take outward forms.

Once you get the hang of color, it’s time to see what happens when you start experimenting with different brushstrokes. In Floy Ealy Edjole’s “Eye of the Storm,” each brushstroke in circular motion suggests the chaos during her mom’s illness. In her effort to maintain a level of calmness for her family, the blending and choice of colors suggested the storm would be over soon. Notice - it’s the same colors – white, purple, gray, yellow – as in “Energy,” but used in a different way.

Finally, think about using different textures in your abstract art for even stronger emotional appeal for the viewer. Consider Floy Ealy Edjole’s piece “Midnight” - the black paint is an expression of deep sadness, but the lines, texture, and blue and white splatter paint are a sign of strength. The use of texture and paint layers adds to the emotional resonance of the piece.

Your first try may not look like a masterpiece, but hopefully you’ll have fun making it. And, remember: the best way to get better at painting is simply to paint more! So as soon as you’re done with your first piece of art, it’s time to start on the next one…