How to Create Abstract Art

How to Create Abstract Art and Have a Blast Doing it!

Abstract Art Painting
Abstract Painting. Getty Images

 What IS Abstract Art?

How to create abstract art starts first with knowing exactly what “abstract art” means.

Think of some pieces of art you didn’t quite “get.” You stood in the gallery and tilted your head side to side, but no matter which way you looked, you couldn’t really see anything. It’s likely those pieces were abstract art.

Abstract art, by definition, does not really represent anything found in nature—basically non-representational forms where nothing within one’s reality can be identified. 

Abstract art is splatter painting; murals made using twigs as paint brushes; art created by repeatedly using the same stencil over and over again--like the paintings you did in Grade 1 and 2 with potatoes where you created repetitive designs; training an elephant to hold a paintbrush and smack paint randomly onto a canvas. (You can see this on YouTube).

The essence of abstract art isn’t in what it looks like; it’s in how it was created—and the creative ways can be numerous.

Who Makes Abstract Art?

Well, you, of course! You can make abstract art. A scribble or doodle on some paper? Random eyes cut out of magazines and glued together in a collage? That’s abstract art!

It’s more than just that, of course. The great abstract artists such as Jackson Pollock and David Hockney approach their art with a certain mindset. The place where you create your art from--the place deep inside you that fuels your creation – is as much part of abstract art as the visual is.

Where Do I Get Inspiration?

One of the best places to get inspiration for your art is within your emotions—happy, sad, apathetic, angry, feeling awesome, loving etc.

Like the Pixar movie Inside Out, emotions are readily personified. We associate colors with emotions: red for anger, blue for sadness, green for jealousy, and yellow for happiness. Try drawing when you are angry—then try again when you are really happy! Notice the difference.

Picking an emotion and working to translate it into art is one of the best sources of abstract art, and it creates some of the most compelling pieces. Take a peek at the famous painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch which conveys heavy emotion!

What Tools Can I Use?

Can you make a mark with it? Then you can use it! Digital marks work too, and so does using scraps of paper or even leaves, plastic cut-outs, even your fingers.

Essentially, any item that can be preserved in a visual layout is usable in making abstract art. Splatter painting was made famous by artist Jackson Pollock, and it’s a fun, simple way to take your first step into the world of creating abstract art. 

You might also want to try other forms of applying paint. Sponges, rags, and plastic bags are all worth exploring.

Whatever route you pick, have fun with it! Even if your art stems from anger or sadness, use it as a way to release those emotions. Enjoy putting them into your art rather than bottling them up inside.

What Purpose Does Abstract Art Serve?

Abstract art is just like any other type of art: we like to look at it. With abstract art, this is its chief purpose. In some other varieties of art, such as portraiture, we use art to capture people’s likenesses and memories of them. With abstract art, the content of the art isn’t there until we put it there through our interpretation and appreciation for it.

Secondarily, abstract art is therapeutic for the artist. It’s nice to create art that doesn’t have to look like anything in particular. Regardless of how you make it, it’s one of the most freeform ways to express yourself. IMO, what is interesting is where you view an abstract and you are not quite sure if the artist is trying to tell you it is a portrait or perhaps a landscape? There is a mystery which has been created. Now that is fun stuff!

Thirdly, abstract art can hold meaning. While the art might not represent an object, it often does represent an idea where one idea sparks off another.

Once you start drawing or painting abstracts, you will get really hooked which snowballs into fabulous abstract art!