how to make your art more abstract

I recently received an email from a subscriber asking me this very question – how to make your art more abstract if you’ve been used to painting realistically or would just like to ‘abstractify‘ it a bit – and suddenly realised I’ve never actually written directly about it! How did that happen?! Me and my inability to see the obvious strikes again.

I have however written around the subject a great deal, so today I’m sharing a few posts and extra thoughts on the subject, to create a resource for ideas and encouragement if you’re looking to move away from realistic and towards something more abstract, whether that’s full abstraction or something in between.


Practical posts

4 fun ways to use a reference image

Use a reference image as a springboard, and make choices about what you borrow and what you leave out.

How to loosen up your art {+ free printable}

24 easy – and fun – ways to let go a bit more

How to paint an imaginary landscape {video mini}

A five minute video of a simple made up landscape

Using double exposures to develop your paintings

A very addictive way to create new paintings and develop ideas

Free sample lesson from Abstractify

This video shows how to create a figure painting with three colours


Supporting posts

The elements of making art that’s truly yours

A few of the things I’ve noticed about artists who have their own distinctive style

Finding your own artistic style: a practical guide

Pretty much what it says on the tin 🙂


The continuum

In Abstractify, my painting course which focuses on discovering how to paint like you, I talk about a continuum for abstraction. It looks like this:

continuum of abstraction

I’m not an abstract artist – I mostly like my paintings to hover around the area of at least vaguely recognisable – but I like to make my subjects my own by ‘abstractifying’ them. You can see from my very high tech graphic there that you can dance around anywhere on the continuum between realism and pure abstraction, and that will have an impact on how abstract your work becomes.

It’s a bit of a left brain approach to something that is ultimately right brain and intuitive, but I find it helps to have a visual for things like this and a bit of logic to back it up, especially if this is a new area to you.

The ways I generally abstractify my paintings are by using non local colour {ie. colour that has nothing to do with the subject}, adding or removing elements as I please, playing with composition, and using loose, painterly brush strokes as well as other tools like fingers or palette knives.

How do you abstractify your art? Do you have any questions about it? Any suggestions that will make this a more useful resource?


Free Up Your Art - free 7 day courseLearning to abstractify when you come from a more realistically inclined background is challenging. If you’d like to dip your toe into it, I offer an anytime access free email course called Free Up Your Art.

Over 7 days I will send you instantly actionable, fun, AND easy tips and techniques to start to shake things up in your art. Click here, or the image on the left, to find out more and sign up!