Abstract Painting

Abstract Painting and What Getting Started Looks Like

1x6" Pine Panels for Abstract Painting

Sometime in 2017 I decided that I was allowed to “make art” . . . whatever that means. I’ve always had this fascination with Abstract Art and really just wanted to make my own paintings. Now that I think about it, I like to make my own everything.

The outsiders view of abstract painting is that it’s easy. The common saying or thought is, “I could make that.” And then you try. And usually it ends up being much harder than you expected.  More about that in this video from the PBS Art Assignment.

One of the types of abstract painting I like is hard edge, geometric abstraction. Basically, I like colorful, painted shapes with clean lines. The process for making those paintings involves taping off areas, painting, removing tape, and repeating until the surface is covered.  Don’t worry, we’ll come back to the details in another post.

The first hard edge abstract painting I made was, well, not awesome looking. I basically taped off a bunch of areas and then painted in different colors. The taping looked decent.  The painting did not. However, I learned a ton from it.

The main thing I learned from the painting is that the tape does in fact take up space and create negative areas. I’ll include a picture below for humor, comfort, and/or hope.

One of my first hard edge paintings. Note that the edges are not hard at all. They’re just fuzzy. Additionally, the shapes are separated by negative space from the tape.

After the hard edge situation above happened I decided to continue on, using a smaller scale. I decided to tape and paint triangles in a sketch book and that painting went much better. Shown below.

Hard Edge Geometric Abstract Triangle Painting
Hard edge geometric abstract painting in a sketchbook. This was an early painting that gave me hope for what I was doing. That hope created momentum.

One of the things I found early on is that building momentum helps. One of the simplest ways to build momentum is to start projects you can complete. I found that it was also much easier to finish small (rather than large) paintings.

My preferred surface for small paintings is a 1″x6″ pine board. The board is really around 5.5″ wide and I like to cut 5.5″ squares for painting. You can cut them with a hand saw and then sand the edges smooth. This is what that looks like.

Pine Panels for Painting
1″ x 6″ pine board cut into square panels for painting.

The nice thing about the 5.5″ squares is that it makes it easy to finish a painting.  I find that I can finish one in a week even if it’s a busy week and I don’t have much time for painting. I know that pace doesn’t sound like a ton of progress, but sometimes that’s all you can do.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that when you commit to one a week and follow through, you quickly build a collection of completed paintings.  That sense of completion is huge and acts as momentum to keep going.

In the next post we’ll go into more detail on how to paint a hard edge painting using the 5.5″ square.

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