Free painting video lesson: How to make a simple abstractified painting

How to make a simple abstractified painting. In this free painting video lesson I share how you can take a simple motif and use it to create an expressive, 'abstractified' painting. A great way to make art on uninspired days, and develop your voice as an artist using motifs and palettes that you love.

When I was in Mexico last year, I was making a lot of art in my sketchbook since that was all I had with me. Having thought I’d got palm trees out of my system before I left, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see them re-emerging in a land where there are palm trees everywhere you turn!

Because I did so many, I started to develop a repeatable process. Typically I haven’t had this in the past, partly because of my slapdash, haphazard approach, and partly because I enjoy the unpredictability of my way of abstractifying in painting.

But for simple sketchbook work, it was nice to have something to fall back on on the days where I didn’t feel inspired by any new ideas, or just wanted something comforting in its familiarity.

I loved to sit on the beach in the early evening, watching the surfing newbies having their lessons, the dogs running wild, and the hawkers offering banana bread, jewellery, and blankets. Then I’d pull out my sketchbook, rest it on my knees, open my tin of colours, and just play with colour and charcoal.

When I mentioned on Instagram that I was considering making a video to share how I put these little paintings together, it received a very positive response. So, a little later than planned, here is said video.

As I mention about half way through, my focus is always on pulling out your unique self expression rather than showing you how to copy what I do, but sometimes copying is the best way to learn a process. If you have a motif that you commonly use already and could play around with abstractifying, I encourage you to do that. Or you can start by doing what I did and then evolving it from there.

Enjoy this free painting video lesson! And if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Materials I used {this can be adapted to what you prefer}


Abstractify - make your art your own

Enjoyed this? Then you might want to check out Abstractify, the much loved course designed to help you begin to uncover your own unique artist style. It offers a wealth of lessons like this to help you find and develop yours, and you can start today! Click the image on the left to find out more about the course and register. And if you’d like a free sample lesson from the actual course, click here.



  • Linda Chaves says:

    Thank you so much for this little video, Tara. As a semi realistic painter who dreams and struggles daily to loosen up further and become more anstract, You were spot on for me. As a teacher, too, I think we can all learn much from each other, and I often wish there were more ways to explore this, than dealing with our day to day of trying to attract students to our particular courses!

    • Tara says:

      It’s such a common experience, I’ve found! So many of us are looking to loosen up and paint more freely. Thank you so much for stopping by Linda – lovely to hear from you!

    • Patricia says:

      Love your video, sorry I am commenting here but I can’t find where else to do it. I made a picture using your technique, not quite abstractified but I am happy with my first trial. I don’t know how to show it. Thanks for teaching this.

      • Tara says:

        I don’t think you can show images in the comments here unfortunately Patricia. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram you could share it there and tag me. And fantastic that you had a go!

  • Cheryl davison says:

    Thank you for the free video. New to your site and art,…what are neo colors?…is the tape frog tape?…do most art supply stores carry the compressed charcoal?…what are intense blocks?….what kind and lb.size paper are you using?….I know, starting from scratch…thank you for your help.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Cheryl – welcome! There are links to most of the main materials above the video. Neocolors are water soluble wax crayons by Caran d’Ache, and Inktense blocks are water soluble powdery sticks {like soft pastels but water soluble} – both can be used wet or dry and I like to use both for their different qualities. I haven’t used frog tape but I gather it’s the same kind of thing. Not all low tack masking tapes are made equal so sometimes a bit of trial and error is required to find one you like. Yes most art stores should have compressed charcoal, and it’s easy to find on Amazon too. My sketchbooks are by Seawhite {link above video}.

  • Cheryl davison says:

    Thank you for the tips Tara

  • Adee says:

    Hi Tara! You are a darling!!!! Thanks a bunch for this video! xoxo

  • jan says:

    Thank You!! That was so nice and generous of you! I loved your video….and your accent!

  • Ellie says:

    Thank you very much, Tara, for one more brilliant video! What a fun! I have already in mind what image I can turn into an abstraction.

    I think it is an advantage I don’t have any art education as I don’t know the rules, so I don’t have fear to broke them.

  • Lisa Palmer says:

    Love your blog and web site so far – just what I need after many years away from A level art. Keen to give this a go. Thanks heaps for your generous inspiration :-)

  • Victoria says:

    How FABULOUS! Beautifully explained and demonstrated. Ordering my supplies now. Will watch again. Thinking about having a few friends over for an Abstractify Party! Thank you so much

  • Linda Ursin says:

    Great advice Tara. I don’t have any water soluble crayons, but I’ll try some other materials

  • Linda Ursin says:

    Yes :) I have those. I did stumble across some water soluble crayons at a shop today so I’m giving them a go. I love trying new things :)

  • Linda Ursin says:

    I posted the result on instagram :) Hope you don’t mind me tagging you

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