January 23, 2018
  • How to get texture into your art.

Finding Inspiration for Abstract Art

Sometimes it is difficult to find inspiration for abstract paintings, but there are techniques that you can use to give you some ideas of what to paint and this is what I will explore in this article.

How Do You Get Inspiration?

Sometimes (in fact quite often) people ask me how I get inspiration for my abstract paintings. Mostly I am inspired by particular colours or textures or have an idea come into my mind of a pattern or colour combination that I want to turn into a painting, but at other times I use other methods to find inspiration for my paintings.

In some cases when you are asked to do a painting for a particular setting, you already have the colours that you need to use as inspiration. This was the case with the hotel commission above.

If you are an artist who wants to venture into abstract art or else you have been creating abstract art for a while but need some inspiration or new ideas on what to create then here are a few things that might inspire you for your next painting:

Using Magazines

A great idea for getting inspiration for your paintings is to take a snapshot of a piece of a magazine. Look through magazines that have lots of pictures or adverts and see if you can find a piece of those that might be good as an abstract painting. It doesn’t have to be something that looks like anything, in fact it is better if it doesn’t, but you will find some interesting options in magazines.

A good way to find something is to use a cardboard cutout as a frame, maybe just a few inches wide and high, and use this to pick out pieces from a page. Quite often, adverts have interesting colours in them that you can pick out.

The image to the left is one I have taken out of a picture in a magazine that would provide inspiration for a painting in some shades of red and yellow.

Fabrics and Furniture

You can get a lot of inspiration from fabrics and furniture patterns. Don’t copy them exactly as they are as this would not be your own design but maybe pick out elements of the pattern or elements of the colours that have been used in the fabrics. Cushions, bed covers and curtains are particularly good things to take inspiration from.

Create An Inspiration Scrapbook

I have a scrapbook where I glue in cuttings from magazines of things that I might use in future to base a painting on. These could be cuttings of actual paintings themselves that I really like and maybe I can figure out why I like that painting – is it the composition or the colour scheme etc.

Other cuttings are from magazines as I have detailed which could be fabrics, floors, vases, or anything that I just like the look of. If you cut these out when you see them then you will end up with a book of inspirational items that you can pick bits and pieces from to create into your own painting.

Inspiration From Photographs

Look through your photographs and see if there are any that have great colour combinations – more often than not nature picks better colours than we can ourselves and that can be an inspiration.

Use a photo editing software to distort the image – it doesn’t have to be expensive software, you can get free programs that will do this too.

See the images underneath from one of my photos that could give me inspiration for an abstract painting. I took the image and blurred it and added ripples with a cheap editing software. This is just an example – you can probably do something more creative!

Another one I did really quickly was a sunset picture that I thought might be too twee if it was too real so I distorted, blurred, cropped and saturated that picture to get the image ont he left.

it still looks pretty much like a sunrise but it could be just used very loosely to create a painting that resembled the colours etc, perhaps also adding some texture in.

Choose photos where the colour combinations are good (or just the colours you like to use) and manipulate them until you get an abstract idea. You don’t have to copy the result completely but it may give you some ideas for a composition.

Colour Combinations or Textures

Sometimes I will just take inspiration from a particular mix of colours. For example I recently completed a painting in blues and greens but there was one particular part of the painting that I liked that had some exact blue/green shades in. For my next painting I wanted to use those exact shades as they had turned out so well so I would choose some texture on which to base those colours.

In another painting, I might have an idea that I wanted to use something particular as texture in the painting – for example the spacers that you use when putting up tiling. So the main inspiration would be the texture and only once I had put the texture on the canvas would I choose the colour scheme.

Try Creating Other People’s Work

This may sound like a strange thing to say but what I mean by this is find a painting you like and try and copy it. By doing this you will more than likely teach yourself other techniques that you would not otherwise have thought of.  I have done this a few times when I have been asked by companies to reproduce a particular painting that they have the rights for.

In trying to recreate it almost exactly, including any kind of texture and painting techniques that you can see in it, then I can guarantee you will do something that you have probably not done before and that will then become a new technique for you.

If you are trying to copy something that you don’t have the rights for then you should obviously just keep it for your own purposes or scrap it!

I hope this has given you a few ideas and some inspiration to get painting, particularly if you are into abstract art.


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