Finding Abstract Designs – Newsletter Issue #4

In This Issue:


Finding Abstract Design Ideas

Where do you find ideas for your abstract paintings?

Under a rock?

Actually, that’s not a bad idea, but more on that later.

Quite often, I’ll simply start painting, and let my instincts guide me, paying only minor attention to my color choices, values, and other design considerations, letting the painting begin rather recklessly. Then I’ll come in and refine that image with more deliberate thoughtful marks, removing some elements, knocking others back, adding or subtracting as I need to.

That’s a very common way abstract painters create their work, and it’s known as Intuitive Painting. Sometimes it’s influenced by the music that the artist has chosen for that session.

Exploring Texture is also a great way to begin your abstract paintings. I stress “to begin” because a piece that’s just a bunch of examples of texture, or even one texture all over the canvas is not usually a great painting. Although I’ve actually been commissioned to do just that, and sold many paintings in that style. So you might like to try starting a painting with texture.

If you want some inspiration for doing this technique I recommend checking out Pat Dews DVD – “Designing Great Starts with Texture & Form”.

Another way to discover abstract design ideas is to use a viewfinder. That’s essentially what Franz Kline did with furniture in his studio. Almost any cropped our close up section of commonly seen objects will produce unrecognizable shapes, and that’s an abstraction.

Good sources of reference material for art done this way, are junk yards, brush piles, and construction sites. I’ve even seen close ups of machinery abstracted like that.

Also a suggestion, you might try using your camera and photo editor to crop out and distort images, rather than a view finder. So let’s see I guess we covered 4 ways to find abstract design ideas:

  1. The Purely Intuitive Process
  2. Musical Inspiration
  3. Exploring Texture
  4. Cropping a Closeup

That should be enough to get you started. There really are limitless other ways you can discover abstract design ideas and get inspired, they’re all around you. Nature provides an abundance of abstract designs, the patterns of sky seen thru the leaves and branches of trees, the shadows those same trees cast on ground or water, the reflections in a pond or lake, and of course the one we’re all familiar with from childhood, Clouds.

Go ahead and try some of these suggestions and then tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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Demo – Intuitive Painting

Sometimes the only inspiration you need is your own imagination

I often paint over older paintings and just play off the elements already there, just let the old painting inspire a new painting, with a good measure of my imagination. “What if I add a bit of orange here? .. or cover up that shape” Remember to tap into your intuitive imagination

  1. Move Quickly
  2. Ask Yourself “What If?”
  3. Go With Your First Thought

Do those three things, especially when taking a sad old tired piece and making it better, and you’ll see amazing results. ____________________________________________________________________________

Featured Artist

Paul R Zacheis is this week’s featured artist, with this wonderful abstract piece.

painting by Paul R Zacheis

Painting by Paul R Zacheis


News From You!

Hazel Saville’s painting about the flooding has been accepted at a large MOMA in Mid Wales- it’s for the summer exhibition starting this weekend and continuing until the end of August. It portrays the story of the flooding of a sunken land that occupies large tracts of the sea near here (In Cardigan Bay).. It’s known as the Welsh Atlantis! Congradulations Hazel!

“The flooding of Cantre’r Gwaelod” – 36 x 24” acrylics on GR stretched canvas.

____________________________________________________________________________ *this is where you can tell us all about your latest successes, maybe you just launched a website, or you got a commission, or made it into a show, won a ribbon or award – you get the idea. It’s a chance to let all of us celebrate YOU! So drop me a line and let me know what’s happening in your world and I’ll include it in the next Issue of Our Newsletter. *Please include “News” in the subject line. And if you’d like to receive our newsletter in your inbox, you can register here “Newsletter” ____________________________________________________________________________

Creative Challenge #3 – Your Favorite Way to Find Abstract Design Ideas

This week’s Creative Challenge is two parts

  1. In a sentence or two tell us about your favorite way to come up with new abstract designs.
  2. Show us a painting you’ve done that way

Then send them to me at Please put “Creative Challenge #3” in the subject line, or it might get lost. One Lucky Winner will be Drawn (by a computer program – ) and Receive a Free Coupon to my Next Course that’s coming soon.

Best of Luck to Everyone! Need a Little Help Getting Started?  – Check out this video “How to Begin a Non-Objective Painting” with Virginia Cobb


Winner of Last Week’s Creative Challenge Drawing

Jay Morgan is last week’s lucky winner of the creative challenge drawing.

Congratulations Jay! Look for a Free Coupon to the Next Course in your inbox, just as soon as the course is ready.

For your chance to win a free coupon to the next course, complete this week’s challenge and email me the photos at  be sure to put “Creative Challenge #3” in the subject line.

And remember this is a Random Drawing so every entry has the same chance of winning. Here’s one of the Art Journal pages that Jay submitted for last week’s challenge and below that a gallery of all the entries in the drawing.

art by jay morgan Gallery of all the entries in last week’s creative challenge


That’s it for this week’s newsletter. If you have any comments just leave them below.. Until next time, Happy painting! Andy Morris

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