Secrets for Developing an Abstract Painting Composition

Do you struggle coming up with abstract compositions to paint? My workshop students ask me all the time how do I determine what to paint?

For me, it's easy: I just get up to the canvas and paint with no need for pre-planning or value studies or reference material. But for many painters, particularly those just beginning to experiment with abstract painting, the question of developing a composition often comes up. One of the things I tell them to do is to get one of their other paintings - whether abstract or not - and grab an old piece of matbaord. Cut out a 6x6 inch square, or rectangle of whatever dimension you like and use it to isolate small, abstract looking compositions within those paintings for ideas.

You can see from the picture above what I do. This is a mat with a 6x6 inch square cut in the middle. I move this square across the face of the painting until I find some interesting shapes and or colors. I then use some artists tape and tape if in place while I take a photograph - as shown in the pictures below. Voila, you just created compositions for many more paintings! See how easy that is! Let's say you want to paint the composition with different colors than the photo you took. I use my iPhone to take the photos so I just edit the picture to one that is in black and white, then you have a great value study that can be painted with any color combination!

Try this the next time you are searching for an abstract composition. You will be amazed how many new compositions you can find in one of your existing paintings.

We cover this and so much more at my Bigger, Faster, Fresher, Looser Workshops, or join one of my online courses.