7 Ideas to Help Plan Your Next Abstract Artwork  

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By Gail A. Stivers in Art Tutorials > Painting Tutorials

For some people, planning your next abstract artwork comes easy. . . for others, it can be torturous. And even the best artists get stuck once in a while!

If you’re feeling like you just can’t get started on your next abstract piece, here are several methods I use to jumpstart my creative process:

1. Get a visual

This is where my love of Pinterest and PowerPoint come in. Start with a visual or two that interest you. (I keep tons of visual information on Pinterest, myself.) Then use PowerPoint, or a similar program, to change, adapt, cut and paste to get an idea to your liking.

Once printed out, you can use this as your planning document, but don’t feel the need to marry yourself to the plan. And, it goes without saying that you should be SURE you aren’t simply remaking someone else’s art.

2. Use what you already have

This could mean updating a piece that is not getting attention, or taking a piece that you could adapt, to start a series. Remember, just because you painted it, it doesn’t mean you have to hold on to it forever. Change is good for the soul, and great for a piece that only you seem to love—unless you plan to just keep it for yourself.

3. Disassemble

Take a look at a couple of your favorite pieces, past or present. What part of the piece—specifically—makes it so likeable? Is there a certain section that stands out?

If so, work from that area, to create something new. Use it as inspiration, or copy (or cut out!) that section and place it on a new surface. Can you now see how this could become a piece on its own?

4. Start with an underdrawing

I am an acrylic artist, so I often like to create a full watercolor crayon underdrawing before I start painting. It’s just easier to “see” what the end piece might look like, and decide if you need to adapt your ideas.

I also use these in the middle of a painting, when I may be stuck and not sure what will work with what I already have. The nice thing is that watercolor crayons are easily “un-drawn” with water, or covered up with paint, so no harm done!

5. Change your palette

Look at a piece you love, and think about how it would change if it used a different color palette. Again, you can use PowerPoint to paste your piece, and play with the color, hue etc. Another option is to take a colorful piece and see how it would work in mainly black/white and gray (or vice versa).

6. Try collage or mixed-media

If you tend to just use paint, consider adding collage elements to a piece you’re stuck on, or simply re-create a piece you love using mostly collage elements. Get in the habit of keeping a variety of papers around, along with found objects and items that you can use to stamp and imprint—if you do, it’ll become much easier to experiment with different looks and textures when you’re feeling a creative block.

7. Throw down some texture!

I love the use of texture, so sometimes I just start there. Put down any kind of texture, then scratch, stamp and play with it! Once it’s dry, I brush on a simple wash, and let the paint show me what to do next. At this point, it is easy to add other color, more texture, or scrape/sand off what you don’t need.

After trying all of this, remember that the piece itself will often make the final decision for you. Don’t try to force it into being what you want. . . just go with the artistic flow and enjoy!

To learn more about Gail or her art, visit abstractedperceptions.blogspot.com.

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