how to paint abstraction

How to Create An Abstract Acrylic Painting

Where I Find Inspiration

I’ve said it before and will say it again: “Nature is my muse.” As often as I can, I go to greenhouses and explore their millions of plants, flowers and any unique organic forms I may stumble upon. In the winter months, that’s all I can do to jigger my inspiration. And that works like a charm.

From Photograph to Painting

How I approach abstraction is I focus on shapes, contrast, intricacy in my photographs worth abstracting, and how light and dark speak to the drama of life. There is something about these shapes or organic forms that spark insight and curiosity. Art is alive and it’s all around us. As an artist, I pay attention to things most people jet past without even a first look. Nature’s impressive shapes and patterns drive my subject matter, but life–mine to be specific–influences the concepts behind my work. I never want to force ideas into a viewer’s mind. I’m someone who needs my work to be something. If it’s going to be abstract, it must still represent or come about from some tangible entity, something recognizable that I can twist into my own. And, I also want my paintings to be left open to interpretation.

Close-up of an abstract painting I did from one of my original photographs

My Abstract Painting Process

A painting is usually built up in layers, but abstraction is very different. People ask me if I burn through paints a lot but the types of paint I use isn’t the traditional kind. Meaning, I don’t think it’s economical to blow money on expensive materials at a typical art store. Nothing against art stores, I do shop at them often for little things such as palette knives or brushes. For the paints, I shop at awesome places such as Ace Hardware Store or Home Depot. With abstraction, how I apply the mediums isn’t simply done by randomly pouring colors all over the canvas.

What you can do with other types of paint (from Ace Hardware and Home Depot) is amazing!
First, I draw out the composition to get a rough idea of where I want the color to go

Sorry, but I believe that art should both be and represent something. The first term I came across in college (lightyears ago) was perception or perceive. An artist’s job is to produce art that means something pertaining to themselves or how they perceive the world around them. Art is a visual bond between the viewer and the artist. Those who have viewed my artwork in galleries or other exhibitions–I overheard conversations and people trying to guess what they were looking at–what I was trying to convey. That’s when I knew I’d succeeded and done my job.

The type of abstraction I do is done in a conservative way; meaning I’m mindful not to waste paint or materials. Most artists apply paint to a canvas using a cup, but I use a palette knife or paint brush. I could never willy-nilly drizzle paint and hope something cool happens just to make money. That’s not how I approach art. However, I do want to create paintings that are saleable and appealing to a broad demographic. Color and composition are two things I take seriously and want to produce something intriguing. To me, nature is intriguing and it provides a world of possibilities for unique compositions.

Final Thoughts on Abstract Painting

Abstraction isn’t necessarily the opposite of realism. You can incorporate both simultaneously while enticing viewers to look at your artwork. Below you’ll see the finished product of a painting I just produced. I’m preparing for some exhibitions right now and have been enjoying encaustic painting and the interesting effects it creates. This piece is done using Acrylic housing paints and making watercolor-like effects.

Abstract Painting by Tessa Koller Photography by Tessa Koller