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

sky-ish

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

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The Richest People & Me

It’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool. — Daisy of The Great Gatsby

I grew up on both sides of the fence, going to school with mini-Daisies and then working in their homes for their families.

Watching The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow brings back the anxiety I used to get when I was working for rich people.  An oldie, but goodie, a streamlined, slick version of the classic novel that has resurrected with Bazo Luhrman’s film.  This version appears less rich than this latest interpretation, but…
Castles vs. mansions, the richest vs. the rich, old luxury vs. new luxury-- it's a wider gap than you realize. It's like comparing diamond mines to home stores

it is SO rich, which is depicted by the less fantastical, but still opulent sets and scenery, eliciting a more realistic sour smell of money.

When I read the book, I used to imagine the parties, Jay Gatsby’s house, the car, the dresses and long pearls, the men in light sand colored suits. But, I could not imagine how rich and creamy as it probably was in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mind. Looking back, I see that most likely this film’s setting better depicts what Fitzgerald had pictured than my mind’s eye ever could.

The truth is, I have actually been in many “rich” people’s homes, surrounded by columns, tennis courts, breakfast rooms, tree houses in the back yard. The walls and halls make you shudder and walk nervously because what’s hanging on them is more expensive than a few of your cars. I’ve been to parties and gatherings at these homes in middle school and high school for sports dinners, sweet sixteens, bar mitzvahs. The high school I graduated from costs more than 30,000 grand a year now.

Here’s the thing though, I went for free. The circumstances I was in as a teen provided me with the delicacies of a good education (I’m your cliché scholarship kid) . I’ll admit it– I’m well trained to critically think, to invent, to push myself and to deal with highly-privaledged and many times elitist people. On the other hand, due to the reality of my non-school life at this time, which contrasted greatly from the reality of my peers’ lives, I’m also well trained at serving others, keeping my mouth shut while internally completely aghast, knowing the maintenance staff, the warm and cozy manager of the cafeteria, the Rastafarian soup chef, the administrative assistant at the front desk. I see both sides of the coin always. The giant gap between economic statuses is a crack on the sidewalk for me.
Castles vs. mansions, the richest vs. the rich, old luxury vs. new luxury-- it's a wider gap than you realize. It's like comparing diamond mines to home stores

In college, I actually served many of the families associated with the school to earn some money. As close to the ground level as I felt by waiting on the parents of my peers, they were great contacts, completely loaded. One time as I rounded a room with a platter of shrimp, I literally had to take the shrimp tails bare-handedly from a woman that didn’t know what to do with them after she had eaten the sweet meat (I guess she’s never heard of a trash can?). I witnessed, on more than one occasion, tough, anorexic women dressed completely in designer wear verbally abuse their housekeepers.

The strangest thing about roaming around these people and taking drink orders was how little they regarded me. They had long forgotten that I had graduated from the same school as their sons and daughters, that I was just as intellectually built, as embedded with sports awards and grade rewards. In black slacks, no slip shoes and a white collared shirt, I was like a walking pitcher. I was a voice that brought them what they wanted. The only time I was perceived at these parties as more than just a person that collects plates, was when when drunk guests approached me.

Usually there was always at least one at every party that would become obsessed with me, completely preoccupied by my every move, perhaps trying to make out the shape of my bra. Eventually toward the end, when we (the small staff) were cleaning the dishes, the man would approach me, watery drink in hand, to ask me questions and flirt with me in a sort of condescending way. There were women too, who sometimes were more intimidating then the men, more subtle, but yet somehow, more dominating than the jolly wasted guys.

Anyhow, these are the richest people I’ve seen. In my book, these people are rich [period].

But, Jay Gatsby! This is another level. The homes I went to for Track meet dinners, or to serve dinners were typically very new and shiny. Gatsby’s place, however, is obviously larger, but it’s also weighty like a pyramid in Egypt, as though it has been in the story’s landscape forever. It is painted white, but as the viewer, I can see the shadow of soot inside the workings of the columns and porches. No, it doesn’t make it look any less spectacular. It actually enhances the richness of the place, coming off more as a castle that had been passed down for generations. This contrasts significantly to recently built houses in Coconut Grove, the ones that had swallowed Old Florida cottages with their chlorinated swimming pools and obvious driveways.
The richest vs. the rich, old luxury vs. new luxury-- it's a wider gap than you realize. It's like comparing diamond mines to home stores

This Gatsby is massively rich. Daisy is enchantingly dove-like, as futile and difficult, yet as desired, as silk. These people don’t work; their lives are cat-like. They move from pillow to pillow, hardly ever touching their fancy feasts.

Daisy is a bird in this film, as played by Mia Farrow. So far, it seems white is her color. She is surrounded by white, she lives in it.
Castles vs. mansions, the richest vs. the rich, old luxury vs. new luxury-- it's a wider gap than you realize. It's like comparing diamond mines to home stores

She buys a dog on the spur of the moment. She can have a white house and a dog if she wants. During this scene, I had an epiphany. Daisy is such a dove in a garden that the illogicalness of this choice does not even flutter in her mind. The furniture is always white no matter what; she doesn’t have any regard for how it manages to stay so beautifully white. She has never cleaned it. Someone else does. The poorly designed combination of white and dog is not on her radar. It’s not even the outlying Pluto in her solar system.

Gatsby, as played by Robert Redford, I can already tell is a well-designed male character, with a natural masculinity that no amount of luxury living could take away. His suits are crisp and perfectly fit, but his skin carries a hint of unrest and ocean. The intensity of these actors is almost psychedelic. They display passion in a dangerous way, a way that us normal folks would never dive into because we are weary of the trouble such passion can cause, perhaps distracting us from the real matters of life.
Castles vs. mansions, the richest vs. the rich, old luxury vs. new luxury-- it's a wider gap than you realize. It's like comparing diamond mines to home stores

The film has no shame in portraying sparkles in the eyes, teeth and earrings all at once during close-ups.

Castles vs. mansions, the richest vs. the rich, old luxury vs. new luxury-- it's a wider gap than you realize. It's like comparing diamond mines to home stores
These characters are precious stones bouncing around inside a beautiful but locked jewelry box.