How to Make an Abstract Painting that Resonates in 5 Steps

Talent can be overrated. Creating “real” art is much easier than you think. The benefits of painting extend beyond the resulting piece of artwork created. The process of painting is what offers the most rewards to your state of mind.

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

Through the act of painting, you are forced to transfer the focus you would normally use on lesson planning, rushing or procrastinating, to colors.

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

If you’re looking for stress-relief, self-expression or some peace of mind, you don’t need to watch four hundred YouTube videos, or imitate an artist’s work. You definitely don’t need to take a class. All you need to do is paint. The greatest trait of abstract art is that it’s abstract. It calls simply for color and emotion, which if you’re a human like me, we have plenty of, perhaps more than we need.

How To Create an Abstract Painting in 5 Steps

1. Gather materials. A blank canvas, a pack of diverse brushes of different sizes, a pack of basic acrylic paint colors, a plastic plate, paper towel, a plastic cup of water, a t-shirt you don’t care too much about.

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

2. Separate yourself from the materials and any distractions. Bring scrap paper or a notebook and a pen with you. What are you feeling? Write it down. What challenge did you recently overcome? How did you feel after? How did your role model make you feel? Anything recently on your mind? Answer these questions and/or more like these in single word answers, preferably not as full sentences.

3. Examine what you have written. Based on the questions above, most or all of your answers should be abstract. For example, “a book,” is not abstract, but “challenging” is. Or, “my uncle” is not abstract, but the way he made you feel is. Maybe your hypothetical uncle was fun made you feel “goofy,” or “joyous.”

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

These are abstract, emotion-based. Don’t be afraid to dive into dark corners. This is the place to do it. This is where some healing can happen. For example, maybe, you had an uncle that was a bully, and he made you feel “frightened.”

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

This abstract piece was the product of a client’s art therapy session. Looks like some healing was accomplished.

4. Choose the abstract term that intrigues or captivates you the most.

5. Paint it, however you may imagine it.

Tips on basic abstract painting:

Use color to convey feeling. You can use colors you love to evoke feeling loved. The colors are yours to play with. You can use black within a lovely color to make sharp contrasts that can bring discomfort to the viewer. The viewer will feel the strain you are illustrating.

Don’t paint anything in particular. Allow the feeling to dominate the imagery. If you want to convey “freedom” for example, you innately might paint something sky-like, not a sky, but better.

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps


If you are painting the feeling of being “stressed out,” you might find yourself painting a crowd of lines, or disordered wiggly things. While it won’t “look” like anything because it can’t (because it’s abstract), it will make you and the viewer feel something.

DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

This is another product of an art therapy session. I feel stressed looking at it.

–Don’t punish yourself with comments like, “What a mess!” or “This is so bad!” It can’t be bad because there’s no comparison. It’s an entirely new and individualized idea that you’re in charge of.

–Don’t try too hard.

Use your imagination.DIY Abstract painting that resonates in 5 easy steps

Suggested Further Reading: The Connection Between Art, Healing and Public Health


An Invitation? Me? To the Ballroom?

This Wednesday, I will be reading my poetry at the estate where my artist residency studio is located. My studio is literally in the carriage house, however I will be reading in the ballroom. This will be quite a change. It’s a good thing I don’t own a ball gown or I might have been inclined to wear one.

Ball gown for a ball by Rachel Zoe on Karolina Kurkova

Karolina Kurkova sparkles like champagne in this ball gown designed by Rachel Zoe…like I said, good thing I don’t own one or else I would end up wearing it and scaring people away like a lighting bug!

The exhibit evening coordinators call what I’m doing “an ongoing reading of poetry throughout the night.” I better bring some water with me. I’ve never done this before, and I assume people will be strolling in and out perhaps even mid-poem, most likely preferring to meander through visual arts, rather than the invisible sounds I’ll be speaking. This is the biggest reading I’ve ever done in my career. I read at the University where I got my MFA once I finished my thesis which was pretty big, but this reading (in the ballroom) will be my first as a professional, all on my own. It’s exciting and unnerving at once. No longer can things like tardiness, messy hair or even a slight buzz to calm the nerves be excused and acceptable as they are for the rookie graduate student. Now, it’s all me. I’m not a duckling in a graduate program; I’m my own brand, my own entity. Any level of nuisance or pleasantness I emit can either eradicate or encourage future invitations to read. How I read, what I read, how “likeable” I am, determines my fate. There’s pressure building, but I hope the poems will speak for me, and I hope the energy of what once was an up and running ballroom will enliven me.An invitation to read poetry in the ballroom Which poems should I read? Well, I already know. That’s one easy element to this endeavor. I’m going to read the ones I know people like, ones I’ve read before. Wednesday evening won’t be a time to experiment or push “social issues” buttons. I’m pulling out my shiniest gems to show how much I’m really worth. (Well, maybe there will be room for one or two experimental pieces…) Reading poetry in the ballroom of the estate