Newsletter Issue #2

In This Issue:


Vertical Theme

People respond immediately to subject matter in art, that’s well known. Pick the right subject and you’ve got a winner!

But what about abstract art, the purely abstract works, what do viewers respond to in them?

How can we use pure design sans subject matter to convey a message or feeling?

Well think about it for a moment, don’t certain arrangements or compositional styles give you a particular reaction? Don’t the colors and size of shapes influence your response to abstract work?

Naturally the answer is yes. The overall theme of our abstract paintings will have a bearing on how they are perceived, and what emotions they evoke in the viewers.

Now there are basically 8 Compositional Themes in abstract painting. They are:

  • L – Shape (can be inverted)
  • S – Shape (can be inverted also called “z shape”)
  • Cantilever
  • Cruciform
  • All Over Design (think Pollock)
  • Radial Design
  • Horizontal Theme
  • Vertical Theme

These are the just 8 themes I personally work with, you may know of more, if you do please tell us about them in the comment section.

Today we’ll just be examining one of these compositional themes, the Vertical Theme.

To begin with what do we mean by a “vertical theme”? To illustrate I chose a cool piece by one of my students, Peter Marinelli. You’ll notice it’s a very loose painting and includes diagonal elements, but the overall composition is vertical, and because it’s in a landscape orientation the vertical theme gives it a sense of stability while the diagonal thrust gives it more energy.

Peter Marinelli created this wonderful example of an abstract painting done in a Vertical Theme

By “vertical theme” we just mean that the elements, lines and shapes, are arranged predominately in an upright fashion. The painting might still have diagonal or horizontal elements even an “L” shape or “S” but the majority of elements are orientated up and down, vertically.

What overall sense or emotional response might such compositions evoke from our viewers?

That’s a great question, and my thoughts are that a vertical orientation of elements may suggest a sense of growth, or an uplifting feeling perhaps even spiritual, like reaching towards the heavens.

Arranged in just the right manner it can lead the viewer upward thru the painting literally “lifting their heads up”.

This is a particularly successful device in very large format paintings with a portrait orientation.

Now large blocky shapes with a vertical arrangement can give a feeling of dominance, strength, or power, like a formidable fortress rising up from the desert.

So what’s the take away here?

I’d say that using vertical elements in your compositions can add more vitality and life to them, and an abstract painting dominated by vertical shapes and/or lines is said to have a Vertical Theme.

I hope you decide to explore these ideas in your own work, and I welcome your comments below.

Now here’s a video demo of one way you might construct an abstract painting with a vertical theme.


Demo – Vertical Theme

From my latest course “Abstract Painting Vertical Theme”


Featured Artist

This week’s featured artist is Gwen Kranz with a gorgeous painting done in the  Patchwork Style found in the course “Intro to Abstract Painting #1”.



News From You!

Marie Lawrence, recently sold this beautiful painting at Cary Gallery of Artists in Cary, NC. Titled “Up With Nature” acrylic. Congratulations on the sale Marie.

“Up With Nature” acrylic by Marie Lawrence

*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.

And if you’d like to receive our newsletter in your inbox, you can register here “Newsletter”



Brooklyn Art Library is home to The Sketchbook Project collection in its physical form. Their walls are lined with shelves that hold the tens of thousands of sketchbooks currently in the collection, created by artists from around the world.

Here’s the coolest part, YOU can be a part of this!

Submit a sketchbook to the library and leave your legacy. Anyone, from anywhere can sign up to receive a blank sketchbook, fill it up and submit it to join the permanent collection.

Click Here For The Details: “The Sketchbook Project”


What are your thoughts?


  • Robin

    Reply Reply June 27, 2017

    Great newsletter! Thanks for the vertical theme demo. Is there a reason you use gesso instead of a white paint? I’m a beginner, so I’m sure it’s really a stupid question, ha! I really want to get to the Brooklyn library to see those sketch books!

    • andymo7_wp

      Reply Reply June 27, 2017

      Thank you Robin, and that’s the number one question I get, and it’s a good one.
      The reason I use white gesso as my white paint(most the time) is because it only costs $22/gallon. So it saves me quite a bit of money over time. Also I think it’s more opaque than other whites like titanium or zinc, so when I’m wanting white paint for some of the pouring techniques that I do, I’ll use a fluid bottle of Titanium White.

      I want to see that Art Library too. Are you planning to submit a sketchbook?

      • Robin

        Reply Reply June 28, 2017

        Well that makes TOTAL SENSE! And a really valuable piece of information. Thank you. I have been photographing for about 9 years now…and just recently started to dip my fingers into painting and collage. I came across your videos and like others, I really enjoy your calm style. I had purchased already a couple of videos from other painters, but have not enjoyed them. They just automatically assume you know things and as a beginner I do not! As far as the sketchbook, I had read about it and have it on my list to see when I’m in Brooklyn next. I’m not there yet as far as submitting something, as I’m just beginning this whole process. I have not taken the time to review your offerings, but as a beginner, and a true beginner, I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on what I should take first. Thanks and keep up the great work and appreciate you sharing your knowledge!!

        • andymo7_wp

          Reply Reply June 29, 2017

          Well I think as a photographer you’ve already learned a great deal about what makes an aesthetically pleasing composition. So you have a leg up that way.

          But I do have the two beginners courses “Intro to Abstract Painting #1 and #2”. They great for absolute beginners, and most my courses are not too advanced.

          But I might not recommend “Beyond the Brush Fluid Acrylic Painting” until you’ve worked with acrylics awhile.

          Great to have you aboard Robin, I look forward to seeing the paintings that you create.

  • Annamaria

    Reply Reply June 27, 2017

    I saw your demo and I loved it. You are a simple guy and I really like it since simplicity is geniality.
    Thank you so much for being my teacher.

    • andymo7_wp

      Reply Reply June 29, 2017

      Thank you very much Annamaria.

  • Peter Marinelli

    Reply Reply June 28, 2017

    I loved the list of themes!! I’ll be checking them out.
    I,m very flattered by your using my painting to reference the vertical theme! Thanks! !!
    Also, I appreciate the many tips you give during your videos! Your natural, relaxed way of teaching makes such a difference in ease of learning for me!

    • andymo7_wp

      Reply Reply June 29, 2017

      Thank you Peter, and thanks for letting me reference your work. You’ve been doing some great stuff lately.

      … and thanks for letting me reference your work, I probably should’ve asked first.

  • Al Smith

    Reply Reply June 28, 2017

    These responses all show what’s so great about Andy: He’s down to earth about explaining and demonstrating the materials and principles of art. It’s such a joy to watch his videos because he has so much fun painting. Andy was born to do what he’s doing, for sure.

    • andymo7_wp

      Reply Reply June 29, 2017

      I appreciate that Al.

  • Jim

    Reply Reply June 29, 2017

    Hi Andy

    Thanks for the newsletter. The vertical theme article was very interesting. Great admirer of your work and love the way you impart your knowledge so readily. Keep up the good work.

    • andymo7_wp

      Reply Reply June 29, 2017

      Thank you Jim, I appreciate the encouragement. It’s all very much a work in progress.

  • Lisa Cousineau

    Reply Reply July 7, 2017

    I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your newsletters. They are very well done, and I love the work you post made by students. Short, sweet, full of beautiful art… well done.

    • andymo7_wp

      Reply Reply July 8, 2017

      Thank you very Much Lisa

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