Abstract Art Ideas

Abstract Art Ideas: 10 Easy & Inspiring Projects

Abstract art allows artists to break free from traditional styles and express their creativity through colour, texture, and form.

These abstract art ideas cover all manner of mediums, regardless of whether you work with oil, acrylic, watercolour or ink. Let’s dive into these 10 abstract art ideas. Each details tips about materials and techniques required to bring your vision to life.

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Acrylic Pour Painting

Acrylic pour painting is an incredibly fun method of painting, that produces stunning abstract results. The basic method involves pouring fluid acrylics onto a surface and watching the colours swirl and move in unique ways. Experimenting with different pouring mediums, and pouring techniques can create an array of results, from cells to marble effects.

acrylic pouring techniques

When selecting materials for acrylic pour painting, consider using high-quality fluid acrylic paints such as Golden Fluid Acrylics to achieve more vibrant colours and better flow. Additionally, a few drops of silicone oil can be added to your paint mixture to create cells within your pour, giving the artwork a unique look. For your pouring medium, explore alternatives like Floetrol or Golden Pouring Medium, as each option may produce slightly different effects.

As you gain experience with acrylic pour painting, trying new techniques can lead to exciting and unpredictable outcomes. Some popular methods include the “dirty pour,” where multiple colours are poured onto the canvas simultaneously, and the “swipe technique,” which involves dragging a spatula or other flat object across the surface of the paint to create intricate patterns. Another interesting approach is the “dutch pour,” which uses a hair dryer or air blower to manipulate the paint on the canvas, resulting in striking, fluid designs.

To further elevate your acrylic pour paintings, consider incorporating metallic or iridescent paints into your colour palette, adding a touch of sparkle and depth to your creations. You can also experiment with various canvas sizes and shapes, as well as using wood or other unconventional materials for your pour.

Geometric Abstraction

Geometric abstraction is a versatile and captivating style that allows artists to explore the beauty of shapes, lines, and colours in their work.

To get inspired, draw inspiration from famous abstract artists and movements such as Cubism, pioneered by Pablo Picasso, which revolutionised the art world. Cubist art breaks down objects into geometric shapes and reassembles them in abstract compositions. Another influential artist, Wassily Kandinsky, employed geometric shapes, lines, and bold colours to convey emotions and ideas in his groundbreaking abstract paintings.

Wassily Kandinsky: Color Study. Squares with Concentric Circles

Acrylic paint is an excellent versatile medium for abstract geometric art. Depending on the mediums added, you can use it for different types of application. For instance, add high flow medium to create airbrush effects, or gel medium to create texture.

Piet Mondrian: New York City I

When planning your composition, sketch out various configurations of geometric shapes. Take cues from the works of artists like Piet Mondrian or Kazimir Malevich. They used grids, rectangles, and squares to create striking, minimalist designs. Alternatively, you can explore more organic or free form geometric shapes. This is reminiscent of the fluid curves and intersecting lines found in the paintings of Joan Miró or Victor Vasarely.

To find the techniques you enjoy using most, experiment with different methods of applying the medium. Use layering and transparency to create depth and complexity in your work. Utilise masking techniques with painter’s tape, stencils, or frisket film to achieve clean edges and precise shapes. You might also explore the use of gradients, patterns, or textures within your geometric forms to add variety and visual interest.

Study colour theory and the principles of design, such as balance, contrast, and harmony. This knowledge will help you create dynamic, visually engaging compositions that evoke emotion and provoke thought.

Textured Abstract Landscape

Explore the beauty of nature through colour, form, and texture. Use the impasto technique to layer thick paint on the canvas, to detail flowers in a meadow, or add swipes of texture to the clouds in a sunset. Texture attracts attention from the viewer, creating salience and focal points in an artwork. It’s a brilliant and easy way to create captivating artworks.

Mediums for Texture

Different mediums can be used to add texture to your landscape paintings, depending on the type of paint you’re using.

  • For oil paints, cold wax medium can be mixed with paint to create a thicker, more textured consistency. This allows the paint to hold its shape and creates an impasto effect.
  • For acrylic paints, gel mediums such as heavy gel or modeling paste can be mixed with the paint to achieve a similar effect. These gels will allow the acrylic paint to retain its texture and form once applied to the canvas.

Types of Landscapes

Consider exploring various types of landscapes as a starting point for your textured abstract pieces. Some ideas include:

  • Rolling hills or majestic mountains
  • Seascapes with crashing waves or serene beaches
  • Deserts with sand dunes and unique rock formations
  • Forests with dense foliage and intriguing shadows
  • Cityscapes with angular architecture and vibrant colours

Methods of Texture Painting

Experimenting with different methods of applying paint can lead to a variety of textures and effects in your landscape paintings.

  1. Palette Knives: Using palette knives is an excellent way to create bold, impasto textures in your work. Experiment with various palette knife techniques, such as applying thick layers of paint, scraping away paint to reveal underlying colours, or dabbing to create rough, organic textures.
  2. Stiff Brushes: Stiff-bristled brushes, such as hog hair or synthetic brushes, can be used to create interesting textured effects. Try using a dry brush technique to create rough, textured strokes, or use a stippling motion to build up layers of paint and create depth in your landscape.
  3. Layering Techniques: Build up layers of paint and texture by allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. This will create a sense of depth and dimension in your landscape. You can also experiment with glazing techniques, using transparent layers of paint to add depth and luminosity to your work.

Abstract Watercolour Splatter

The watercolour splatter technique is a fun abstract art idea, that is perhaps the easiest effect to achieve. It allows artists to create dynamic and lively compositions. Splatter effects make fantastic backgrounds, which you could try drawing with ink, or creating lettering designs on top of. Alternatively you could use it as a part of a larger abstract piece—add variety with gold leaf, or layer textured acrylic paint on top.


Creating the Effect

watercolour splatter abstract art ideas
  1. Start by preparing your work area, as the splatter technique can be quite messy. Lay down a protective layer, such as a drop cloth or old newspapers, to catch any paint drips or splatters.
  2. Wet your watercolour paper with a spray bottle or brush. This will help the colours spread and blend more easily when applied.
  3. Load your brush with watercolour paint and flick it onto the wet paper, creating a splatter effect.
  4. Repeat with various colours, allowing them to bleed and blend together. Feel free to play with contrasting or complementary colour schemes to create interesting interactions between the hues.
  5. Let the painting dry completely before handling.

Blending Colours and Negative Space

Experimenting with colour blending can lead to fascinating and unexpected results in your watercolour splatter art. As the colours mix on the wet paper, they create unique combinations and gradients that add depth and interest to your composition.

To create negative space in your splatter painting, use masking tape or masking fluid. Apply the tape or fluid to the areas you want to protect from the paint splatter, creating geometric shapes, organic forms. Once the paint has dried, carefully remove the tape or peel off the masking fluid to reveal the clean, untouched areas beneath.

Tips for creating watercolour splatter effects

  • If you’re new to watercolour splatter, practice on scrap paper before working on your final piece to get a feel for the technique and how different brushes produce different effects.
  • Use high-quality watercolour paints and paper for the best results, as they will provide richer colours and better blending capabilities.
  • Experiment with incorporating other elements into your splatter painting, such as ink, gouache, or acrylics, for added texture and visual interest.

String Pull Abstract Art

String pull art, is an ultra easy and fun technique that is not only accessible but also offers endless possibilities for creativity and experimentation.

To create a successful string pull art piece you will need a surface to work on, such as a canvas or heavy paper, as well as acrylic or fluid paint in various colors. Additionally, you’ll need string or yarn, which can be cut to varying lengths depending on your desired design.

Start by dipping the string or yarn into your chosen paint colour, making sure it’s fully coated but not dripping excessively. You may find it helpful to use a disposable container or palette for this step. If you’re working with thicker acrylic paints, you can thin them down with a bit of water or a pouring medium to achieve a more fluid consistency.

Once your string is coated in paint, carefully place it onto your canvas or paper, creating loops, swirls, or other shapes as desired. You can experiment with different arrangements and layering techniques to produce a variety of effects.

With the string in place, gently press it down onto the surface using your fingers, a brush, or another flat object, ensuring it makes full contact with the surface. This step is crucial, as it helps transfer the paint from the string to the surface, creating the desired pattern.

Next, slowly and steadily pull the string away from the surface, allowing the paint to drag and create intricate designs as it comes off. Be mindful of the speed and angle at which you pull the string, as this can dramatically impact the final result. You can repeat this process with multiple strings and colours, layering and overlapping the designs. If you’re looking for more canvas painting ideas, check out our blog!

Gold Leaf Abstract Art

Gold leaf abstract art is a luxurious and eye-catching technique that adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any artwork. Incorporating gold leaf into your abstract pieces can create a striking contrast between the vibrant colours and the shimmering metallic accents. You can add in on top of an existing watercolour, gouache or pencil artwork. Alternatively, you could coat a canvas with gold leaf, then paint over with acrylic or oil.

To create gold leaf abstract art, you will need a few essential materials, such as gold leaf sheets (imitation or genuine), gold leaf adhesive (also known as sizing), a soft brush, and a sealant like clear varnish or wax.

Start by creating an abstract composition using watercolour, experimenting with various colours, shapes, and techniques. Once your painting is complete and the paint has dried, you can begin incorporating gold leaf accents.

Gold leaf is delicate, so take care when handling it. Make sure your workspace and artwork is clean and free from dust, then apply the gold leaf adhesive to the surface you want to gild, using a soft brush or a spatula. Be sure to cover the whole area evenly and let it dry for several minutes before continuing.

Gently lay down your gold leaf sheet on top of the adhesive and use a soft brush to press it into place. After the gold leaf has been applied and is securely adhered to your painting, seal the entire piece with a clear varnish or wax to protect both the paint and the gold leaf from damage or wear.

There are a multitude of abstract painting ideas you could explore with gold leaf, such as layering gold leaf under textured paint, incorporating it into geometric shapes, or using it to create distressed, broken marks.

Create a Wassily Kandinsky Inspired Abstract Artwork

Abstract oil painting
Wassily Kandinsky: composition IV Wassily Kandinsky

Drawing inspiration from the works of Wassily Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstract art and non-representational artworks, can lead to the creation of captivating and dynamic paintings. Kandinsky’s unique visual language incorporated free-flowing geometric shapes, bright colours, gradients, lines, and forms, resulting in expressive and emotionally evocative compositions.

To create an abstract painting in the style of Kandinsky, first familiarise yourself with his approach and techniques. Kandinsky was inspired by music and believed that colour and form could evoke emotions, much like the notes and chords of a symphony. He often used black lines and primary colours against light backgrounds, creating contrast and drama within his pieces. Although he primarily painted with oils, Kandinsky also employed soft pastels for expressive marks and added depth.

Begin your Kandinsky-inspired piece by selecting a suitable canvas. Experiment with various materials such as oil paints, acrylics, or even pastels to achieve different effects. Pay close attention to your colour palette, focusing on primary colours, as well as incorporating black and white to create contrast and balance.

As you plan your composition, consider incorporating geometric shapes like circles, squares, and triangles, along with fluid lines and organic forms. Allow your intuition to guide you in arranging these elements, aiming to evoke emotion and create a sense of movement within your artwork. Remember to include gradients and contrasting colours to further enhance the visual impact of your piece.

When applying paint to your canvas, experiment with different techniques and brushstrokes to capture the essence of Kandinsky’s style. Layer colours and shapes to create depth and complexity, and use bold, black lines to define and separate forms.

Create a Watercolour Resist

Watercolour resist is a technique that was pioneered by Swiss-German artist Paul Klee. Klee’s innovative watercolour resist method offers a fascinating way to create abstract art with a distinct visual appeal.

To create your own watercolour resist artwork, you will need watercolour paper, oil pastels, oil paints or wax crayons, and watercolour paints. First design the composition of the artwork. You may draw inspiration from nature, music, or even the geometric forms and organic shapes found in Klee’s own works.

Paul Klee: Summer Houses

Using oil pastels, oil paints, or wax crayons, sketch your design onto the watercolour paper. These materials will serve as a ‘resist’ that prevents watercolour from adhering to the areas where they are applied. Be bold and expressive with your lines and shapes, ensuring that they are clearly defined and cover the desired areas completely. Or choose to create line art, drawing flowers, trees or intricate patterns.

Once your resist design is complete, it’s time to apply the watercolour paint. Begin painting over the entire surface of the paper, including the areas covered by the oil pastel. As you paint, you’ll notice that the watercolour resists adhering to the areas where the oil or wax has been applied, resulting in a striking contrast between the vibrant colours and the white or coloured lines of your resist design.

Consider using a limited colour palette to ensure harmony within your piece. Experiment with analogous or complementary colours, and explore different levels of saturation and transparency to achieve a visually engaging result.

If you painted with oils to create the resist, make sure to wait a few days before handling the artwork. Oils take much longer to dry than watercolour paints, so you will have to wait before framing the art.

Abstract Alcohol Ink Painting

One of the most exciting abstract art ideas is working with alcohol inks, which are known for their vibrant colours and fluidity.

To get started with alcohol ink painting, you will need the following materials: alcohol inks, a non-porous surface such as Yupo paper, rubbing alcohol or blending solution, droppers or pipettes, and a straw or air blower to manipulate the ink. Use gloves and protective layers for your work area, as alcohol inks can be quite messy.

Alcohol inks come in a wide range of hues, so consider using a colour scheme to create harmony or contrast. You can also experiment with metallic inks to add shimmer and depth to your artwork.

To create your abstract ink painting, start by applying drops of alcohol ink onto your chosen surface. Either use the dropper that comes with the ink bottle or transfer the ink to a pipette for precise application. Allow the ink to spread naturally, or use a straw or air blower to guide its movement across the surface. This will create organic shapes and patterns that are characteristic of abstract ink paintings.

When working with alcohol inks, don’t be afraid to embrace spontaneity and let go of control. Let the ink to flow freely. When your intuition guides you in creating abstract designs, they will resonate with your emotions and artistic vision.

Abstract Stencil Art

Often used in conjunction with spray painting, stencils can be employed to achieve intricate designs and layered effects, resulting in visually stunning abstract artworks.

Create stencil art on canvas or paper with acrylic paint or spray paint. The other materials you will need are: a variety of stencils, a cutting tool like a craft knife, a cutting mat, and adhesive spray to secure the stencils in place. Alternatively, you could use a Cricut machine to create stencils.

Begin by designing your stencils, which can be as simple or complex as you desire. Some fun stencil ideas that create different effects include geometric shapes for a bold, modern look, organic forms inspired by nature for a more fluid and dynamic composition, or even text and typography for a statement piece. You can create your stencils by hand using a cutting tool and a durable material like acetate sheets, cardstock, or thick plastic, or you can use pre-made stencils available at art supply stores.

Once your stencils are ready, prepare your work surface by ensuring it’s clean and free of dust or debris. If using an airbrush, make sure you have adequate ventilation and protection for your work area, as well as any necessary safety equipment such as a mask and gloves.

As you work, consider how the various stencil designs interact with one another and contribute to the overall composition. You may choose to overlap shapes, create gradients or patterns, or even incorporate negative space to add visual interest to your piece. Don’t be afraid to experiment with unconventional techniques and materials, such as using textured mediums as a base coat or metallic paints to further enhance your abstract stencil art.