4. Learn to paint Abstracts


How many times have you looked at an abstract painting and heard someone say, “I could do that!”?

While abstract painting looks easy to some, it can actually be more challenging than traditional or classical painting. This is because abstract art defies rules and conventions. It’s up to you as the artist to break rules, be expressive, and decide what is art.

  1. abstract art definition. A trend in painting and sculpture in the twentieth century. Abstract art seeks to break away from traditional representation of physical objects. It explores the relationships of forms and colors, whereas more traditional art represents the world in recognizable images.

By the second half of the 20th century, art was transforming rapidly. A group of New York artists including Jackson Pollock, Dutch-born William de Kooning, and Franz Kline began to push the boundaries of previous movements by focusing on the paint itself as their subject. Large-scale canvases became about the action of painting; the canvas was meant to be the remnant of an artist’s specific interaction with materials. AbEx paintings can have that “my kindergartener could have drawn that” quality to the untrained eye, but the very intentional approaches of these artists (and their tortured personal lives) reveal very real artistic contemplations.(from http://www.artsicle.com/blog/understanding-abstract-art)

  1. Paul Jackson Pollock, known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting.Wikipedia

Wassily Kandinsky believed that colors provoke emotions. Red was lively and confident; Green was peaceful with inner strength; Blue was deep and supernatural; Yellow could be warm, exciting, disturbing or totally bonkers; and White seemed silent but full of possibilities. He also assigned instrument tones to go with each color: Red sounded like a trumpet; Green sounded like a middle-position violin; Light Blue sounded like flute; Dark Blue sounded like a cello, Yellow sounded like a fanfare of trumpets; and White sounded like the pause in a harmonious melody.

These analogies to sounds came from Kandinsky’s appreciation for music, especially that by the contemporary Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). Kandinsky’s titles often refer to the colors in the composition or to music, for example “improvisation.”Source: Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Über das Geistige in der Kunst), 1911

  1. New York Figurative Expressionism of the 1950s represented a trend where “diverse New York artists countered the prevailing abstract mode to work with the figure.”

At LifeART studio you will learn how to paint different types of Abstract Art.

Colour-Related or Light-Related
Emotional or Intuitional

Curvilinear Abstract Art

This type of curvilinear abstraction is strongly associated with Celtic Art, which employed a range of abstract motifs including knots (eight basic types), interlace patterns, and spirals. Later they returned during the 19th century Celtic Revival Movement, and the influential 20th century Art Nouveau movement: notably in book-covers, textile, wallpaper and chintz designs by the likes of William Morris (1834-96) and Arthur Mackmurdo (1851-1942). Curvilinear abstraction is also exemplified by the “infinite pattern”, a widespread feature of Islamic Art.


Colour-Related or Light-Related Abstract Art

This type is exemplified in works by Turner and Monet, that use colour (or light) in such a way as to detach the work of art from reality, as the object dissolves in a swirl of pigment. Other examples include the final sequence of Water Lily paintings by Claude Monet (1840-1926). The Czech painter Frank Kupka (1871-1957) produced some of the first highly coloured abstract paintings, which influenced Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) who also relied on colour in his Cubist-inspired style of Orphism. Colour-related abstraction re-emerged in the late 1940s and 50s in the form of Colour Field Painting, developed by Mark Rothko (1903-70) and Barnett Newman (1905-70). In 1950s France, a parallel type of colour-related abstract painting sprang up, known as Lyrical Abstraction.


Geometric Abstract Art

This type of intellectual abstract art emerged from about 1908 onwards. An early rudimentary form was Cubism, specifically analytical Cubism – which rejected linear perspective and the illusion of spatial depth in a painting, in order to focus on its 2-D aspects. Geometric Abstraction is also known as Concrete Art and Non-Objective Art. As you might expect, it is characterized by non-naturalistic imagery, typically geometrical shapes such as circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, and so forth. In a sense – by containing absolutely no reference to, or association with, the natural world – it is the purest form of abstraction. Geometrical abstraction is exemplified by Black Circle (1913, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg) painted by Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) (founder of Suprematism); Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942, MoMA, New York) by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) (founder of Neo-Plasticism); and Composition VIII (The Cow) (1918, MoMA, New York) by Theo Van Doesburg (1883-1931) (founder of De Stijl and Elementarism). Other examples include the Homage to the Squarepictures by Josef Albers (1888-1976), and Op-Art originated by Victor Vasarely(1906-1997).


Emotional or IntuitionalAbstract Art

This type of intuitional art embraces a mix of styles, whose common theme is a naturalistic tendency. This naturalism is visible in the type of shapes and colours employed. Unlike Geometric Abstraction, which is almost anti-nature, intuitional abstraction often evokes nature, but in less representational ways. Arguably, the most celebrated painter specializing in this type of art was the Russian-born Mark Rothko – see:Mark Rothko’s Paintings (1938-70). Other examples include canvases by Kandinsky like Composition No.4 (1911, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), and Composition VII (1913, Tretyakov Gallery); the typical Teller, Gabel und Nabel (1923, Private Collection) by Jean Arp (1887-1966), Woman (1934, Private Collection) by Joan Miro (1893-1983). 


Gestural Abstract Art

This is a form of abstract expressionism, where the process of making the painting becomes more important than usual. Paint may be applied in unusual ways, brushwork is often very loose, and rapid. Famous American exponents of gestural painting include Jackson Pollock (1912-56), the inventor of Action-Painting, and his wife Lee Krasner (1908-84) who inspired him with her own form of drip-painting; Willem de Kooning (1904-97), famous for his Woman series of works; and Robert Motherwell (1912-56), noted for his Elegy to the Spanish Republic series. In Europe, this form is exemplified by Tachisme, as well as by the Cobra Group, notably Karel Appel (1921-2006).

Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning

Minimalist Abstract Art

This type of abstraction was a back-to-basics sort of avant-garde art, stripped of all external references and associations. It is what you see – nothing else. It often takes a geometrical form, and is dominated by sculptors, although it also includes some great painters. In part a reaction against the austerity of minimalism, Neo-Expressionism was mainly a figurative movement which emerged from the early 1980s onwards. However, it also included a number of outstanding abstract painters such as the Englishman Winner Howard Hodgkin (b.1932), as well as the German artists Georg Baselitz (b.1938), Anselm Kiefer (b.1945), and others.

Adieu 1982 by Georg Baselitz born 1938

LifeArt School

Author: LifeArt School

Leonie has been painting for 30 years. she has a degree in Art as well as a Teaching diploma. Her dream has always been to help other reach their full potential, in art as well as in daily life. LifeArt School has been in operation since 2004 and has managed to help various students become full time artists. Leonie is also a well know local and international artist. She paints three days a week and her work is available in various galleries.

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