How to Create Your Own Library of Abstract Painting Ideas

4x4 Mat.jpg

We all have the ability to create abstract artwork that makes unique visual connections for ourselves, and those who view our artwork.

In fact, abstract art gives you the freedom to create artwork by trusting your intuition.

I find abstract painting allows artists at any level to freely express their creativity as they explore the world around them.

But staring at a blank page or canvas can be daunting.

You may find yourself wondering where to start.

What if you could tap into a resource library of abstract painting ideas?

Let’s walk through a simple and easy way for creating your own library of abstract painting ideas.

The Five-Minute Timer Exercise

I designed this exercise to help you generate a library ideas using freeform exploration.

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • Timer (any type of timing device will work – from your iPhone to an egg-timer)

  • Roll of White Paper

  • Paints (your choice of colors, but I do recommend acrylic paint)

  • Brushes (whatever you have on hand will work)

  • An open workspace (consider using an area where you can work freely, such as the floor or kitchen table)

  • One 4x4 matted frame

  • One pencil

  • Scissors

Start by collecting your supplies.

Then find your open workspace where you will have the freedom to move around and paint freely without restrictions.

Next, you’ll want to take your white roll of paper and spread it out over your open workspace.

(I like to roll the whole thing of paper out on the floor, but you can easily do this on your kitchen table.)

Get ready to set your timer for five minutes.

Once you set the timer, you’ll start making marks on the entire white page.

Paint your marks all over the paper randomly without thinking, but be sure to leave some white spaces.

Don’t stop to watch the clock.

Just go, go, go… filling your paper with marks… until the timer goes off.

Set your painted page aside and let it dry.

While you wait for your first piece to dry, consider repeating this process multiple times on different sheets of paper.

Just be sure to set the timer for five minutes every time you start a new sheet.

The more sheets you create using the five-minute timer, the more ideas you’ll spark for future artwork.

Once your first piece has dried, you’ll want to take the open mat and move it around your painted sheet until you see a composition with the colors that you like.

Then draw a line within the frame so that when you lift the frame up you’ll see the outline of the 4x4 area.

Repeat this process in various places throughout your page until you've found every design you like from your painted page.

Turn the 4x4 mat around the painted area until they find a section of it that is the most pleasing to you. 

Then you cut those out so you have a stack of different ideas.

This is your new abstract art resource library.

How to Use Your Abstract Art Resource Library

The next time you're trying to start a painting and you don't know where to begin, you’ll want to refer to your abstract art idea stack.

Simply take out your stack of 4x4 squares and sort through them until you land on one that catches your eye.

Study the square and look at the design to help springboard the next piece you’ll create.

You may use it as an idea starter, or you may try to create a larger painting that looks just like what’s on the square.

One thing you’ll want to note you cannot make an exact copy of your idea starter square.

Over the years I’ve tried to recreate my idea starters and discovered that the composition and colors are always different and unique.

In turn, this makes every piece that you and I create an original.

Just remember that you can add to your abstract art resource library anytime with a piece of paper, an old painting, or anything that is covered with paint and marks.

Once you do this, I’d love to hear how it worked for you. I promise to respond when you post a comment below.