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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

8 Tips for Beginners to Improve Your Abstract Artworks

Abstract artworks have started gaining popularity in the contemporary art scene, but they’re still limited to niche appreciators of art. Some people may find them intimidating because they are quite hard to interpret. This is due to a lack of exposure and resources to understand this school of art. Many modern artists are afraid to tap into abstractionism because they do not have the proper guidance to explore it. However, what they do not know is that they are missing out on one of the most expressive art forms in the world.

abstract artwork painting

It is fun, engaging, and liberating. It offers a vast horizon to expand your imaginative skills and forces you to think out of the box. Surely this style doesn’t align with the conventional practices of art, but its differences are what makes it special. While we have already discussed the importance of abstractionism, today we’ll focus on some beginner-friendly tips for creating abstract art. By the end of it, you will find yourself one step closer to embracing this unfamiliar art world. 

Tips To Create Phenomenal Abstract Artworks

If you are one of those artists who paint to express, abstract art can be your catharsis. It can be your way of representing your emotions, personality, and character through your creativity. Now without getting you overwhelmed, here are some tips for you to improve your art. 

1. Do not rely on the outside world

If you have ever closely observed abstract artworks, you would know they don’t rely on any tangible objects. They rely on shapes, colors, patterns, and lines that might not make much sense to just anyone. However, it is the fundamental attribute of abstractionism where we don’t rely on the real objects of the outside world. 

An abstract artist tries to look within themselves to depict their feeling on the surface — unrestrained by worldly objects. It is an uninhibited form of expression just like a melodious tune that can touch your heart without a single word. To become an expressive abstract artist, start by setting yourself free. 

2. Study the masters

There is no better way to improve your skills than studying the old masters. Observing their works would give you deeper insight into your own skills. You can borrow their works to improve your own. Some of the famous masters that you can refer to are Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Kazimir Malevich among others. 

To begin with, you can practice a simple exercise. Select a master’s work of your choice and then observe the patterns in it. Once you get familiar with the patterns, break them down into individual shapes by ignoring the other details. This will give you some sense of how the artist created that painting and unified the entire composition. Once you familiarize yourself with the shapes, redraw them and try to arrange them together. The aim here is not to recreate the work but to simply get the essence of the painting. 

3. Unlearn the conventional 

Many new artists who have never created abstract artworks before are often worried about going “wrong.” However, what they always forget is that abstract art is very different from the conventional school of art. The definition of good and bad artwork is poles apart in both schools of art. Abstract art focuses on expression which requires you to loosen up and let go of the pressure of achieving perfection. 

The first step to loosen up is to change your mindset and seek a new perspective on abstract art. You will have to set your mind free before you can liberate your creativity and dive into abstractionism. However, do not let go of the art techniques, just your perspective of a perfect piece of art.

4. Do not fret over stretched canvas

For creating abstract artwork, it is not important for you to stretch a canvas or buy one that is stretched. If you closely observe some contemporary abstract artists, you will realize many of them prefer to use unprimed and unstretched canvas instead of stretched and primed ones. If you still want a stretched canvas for immediate use, you can buy one of any size from a craft store. There are both primed and unprimed options available.

For a colored background, you can treat your canvas with gesso and add a touch of color to it. However, you can also choose to completely skip a canvas and work with a medium-density fibreboard (MDF) instead. Acrylic paints work quite well with MDF once you treat it with gesso. If you want to work with other types of paints, it will be best to understand their attributes first.

5. It’s not a free pass for lack of skills

Many abstract painters misunderstand the roots of abstraction and reject every quality standard there is. They have developed a misconception that everything is acceptable in the name of abstract artwork which is anything but true. Yes, I just suggested you to set your mind free, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore the vitals of paintings. 

A good understanding of color theory, composition, balance in the work, light, shadow, etc., enhances an abstract artwork. You might think that abstract artists forego the basics, but the best artworks are actually the ones built around them.

6. Black and white is a good start

As a beginner, you may find it overwhelming to work together with different elements of an abstract artwork. To prevent yourself from succumbing to this pressure, start with just the shapes. Focus on different shapes before you move to the composition next. Once you familiarize yourself with the shapes and compositions separately, try to put them together. 

Practice this exercise using only black color on a white canvas before adding more to it. This will give you more clarity on your composition and help you put your shapes into a unified picture. It will be much easier for you to move to colors after familiarizing yourself with the basics of composition.

7. Understand space and surface

The composition of an abstract artwork heavily depends on the utilization of space. As imperative as it is to fill in the blanks, you also need to know what spaces to leave blank. Once you learn to arrange the space on your canvas, every element contributes to the balance of the composition. 

When it comes to the canvas,  it is better to start with a larger surface area. I know beginners often feel intimidated by a larger surface due to their fear of making mistakes. However, working on a bigger canvas will allow you to step back and evaluate your work. 

8. Don’t think it is ‘easy’

You may believe that creating an abstract artwork is easy, but it is a grave mistake. There is, in fact, nothing easy about it, and is also one of the most demanding forms of art. Abstract paintings do not depict real-world objects and this leaves you without the support of reality for details. Therefore, your only guidance is your own expressiveness and intuitions to guide you.

Unlike other paintings such as figurative and landscape, abstract demands you to plan your own elements. Be it your imagination, technique, inspiration, intuition, or even experience, you will have to figure out everything on your own. You would also need to make sure that every element contributes to the final results you desire.

Abstract Artworks Can Unleash the Artist In You

While abstract art is not one of the most popular art styles in the world, it is still one of the most liberating. Tapping into abstractionism demands you to look deeper within yourself and connect with your intuition. An abstract artist may take inspiration from the outside world, but it is their intuition that guides them through the process. This process of creation and self-discovery can give you a new perspective on art, your own skills, and affect how you look at real-world objects. Creating abstract artwork gives you immense freedom to express which can liberate you from the shackles of perfection, thus freeing the artist within you to create as it desires.

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