Abstract art is art that doesn’t attempt to visually represent reality. Instead, it uses shapes, colours, forms, marks, and other medium-specific effects to produce an image or scene. 

As a movement, it started in the early 20th century, with European artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Juan Gris. Later in the 20th century, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso, and Helen Frankenthaler continued the abstract experiment with abstract expressionism.

abstract painting
Source: Instagram
Picture with a Black Arch, Wassily Kandinsky, 1912

Some famous abstract paintings consist of colored lines, dots, squares, or other shapes that don’t directly represent anything. On the other hand, lots of different types of art and subjects can be inspired by abstraction without going the whole way. For example, an abstract landscape or an abstract still life would still have elements that make them recognizable and visually represent reality up to a point. 

Jackson Pollock
Source: Instagram
A montage containing paintings by Jackson Pollock.

Despite what some people think, creating abstract art isn’t necessarily easy. The most famous abstract artists were highly skilled in figurative, realistic-looking art as well as abstract art. To create effective and visually striking abstract artwork, you need a strong concept, an understanding of color and shade, and other technical skills. 

At the same time, you don’t need to be a master artist. Creativity, imagination, and a love of experimentation will take you a long way. Here are some fun abstract art ideas and classes for inspiration.

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Abstract Art Ideas to Try

1. Paint in the Style of Kandinsky

abstract art
Student work by Udeshi Palihawadana for Abstract Art with a Twist: Personalize Kandinsky.

When looking for abstract painting ideas, who better to get inspiration from than the master artists who pioneered the form? This painting was inspired by Russian artist Kandinsky.

2. Paint in the Style of Miró

Spanish artist Joan Miró combined abstraction with surrealism and is one of the most recognizable artists of the mid-20th century. Be inspired to paint like him while developing your own motifs.

3. Paint Like Mondrian

Nobby Daviese work
Student work by Nobby Davies for Abstract Art with a Twist: Personalize Mondrian.

Dutch artist Piet Mondrian was best known for his white, black, and primary-colored squares and rectangles. In this class, learn from this iconic artist while personalizing elements of his work to suit your own style.

4. Paint in the Style of Klee

art supplies
Paint and draw in the style of Klee.

Or perhaps German artist Paul Klee is more your thing? The artist was inspired by Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Abstraction, and your art can be inspired by him.

5. Abstract Watercolor Painting

abstract art
An abstract watercolor painting.

Among the easiest abstract art ideas for beginners is painting with watercolors. Abstract patterns are a good way of experimenting with the way these paints mix and interact with water.

6. Abstract Gouache Painting

An abstract design painted with gouache.

Different types of paint have different qualities, and gouache is often favored for the boldness and richness of its pigment. It’s a great medium for creating colorful abstract designs.

7. Abstract Cow Painting

Find abstract painting ideas in nature and animals.

Abstract techniques can be used in creative ways to represent subjects such as animals. In this case, cows.

8. Abstracted Rose

While this painting still looks like its subject, using an abstract technique means the impression of the flower dominates, rather than the details.

9. Use Household Objects to Create Patterns

art with a comb
Use items found at home to create surprising patterns.

Items easily found at home can be used to create abstract patterns.

10. Abstract Expressionist Painting

abstract paintings
Modern Abstract Expressionist painting.

Abstract Expressionism emerged in the mid-20th century, with American artists Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning using different techniques and forms than earlier abstract artists. Try it out yourself!

11. Puddle Pour Acrylic Painting

marble paint
The puddle pour method creates abstract and somewhat unpredictable patterns.

Puddle pour painting with acrylic paint involves mixing different shades of paint together in a pourable consistency to create abstract patterns. The beauty of this method is that you can never quite predict what you’ll end up with on your canvas. It’s one of the most fun abstract canvas art ideas to try.

12. Air-Blown Acrylic Painting

wet paint
Create abstract patterns by blowing air on your wet paint.

Another one of the most fun abstract canvas art ideas to try is blowing air onto a canvas dripped with acrylic paint.

13. Palette Knife Painting

Paint brushes aren’t the only tool that can be used to create abstract paintings. Palette knives create a different effect when spreading paint on canvas.

14. Abstract Watercolor Landscape

mountain watercolor
Student work by Gitte Mertens for Abstract Watercolor Landscapes Part 1.

Create the impression of a landscape with watercolors without getting hung up on the precise details.

15. Limited Palette Landscapes

Try limiting your color palette when painting abstract landscapes.

Limiting your color palette when painting abstract landscapes can help create an atmospheric, even moody, effect that evokes the spirit of the landscape if not every detail.

16. Abstract Flower Collage

Student work by Sigrid Cummings for Collage for Beginners – An Abstract Flower.

Abstract art isn’t restricted to painting. Collage is a good medium to experiment with when creating abstract works.

17. Oil Pastel Shapes

Student work by Manuela Masengu for Oil Pastels and Mark Making.

Oil pastels create a different effect from other media.

18. Abstract Figure Line Drawing

line drawing of lady
Student work by Chavie Pem for Abstract Art Figure Drawing Using Pen or Marker.

If you’re looking for abstract art ideas to draw, look no further than a simple abstracted line figure.

19. Family Portrait

abstract people
Student work by Angela Davis for Creating an Abstract Family Portrait.

Another of the abstract art ideas to draw is an abstract family portrait.

20. Geode-Inspired Abstract Painting

Look to nature for inspiration when creating abstract art, such as the random patterns of geodes.

Discover how one artist uses nature as the ultimate source of inspiration, so you can get to creating too!

21. Abstract Painting With Gold Leaf

gold foil
Embellish your abstract painting with gold leaf.

Add drama and richness to your abstract painting by adding gold leaf. As this is a precious resource, it’s a good idea to learn how to handle it properly first!

22. Abstract Painting with Oil Paint and Cold Wax

wax painting
Oil paint mixed with cold wax goes on like frosting!

Mixing oil paint with cold wax creates an interesting texture and consistency.

23. Black and White Ink Patterns

black and white ink
Student work by Mila Mai for Ink Painting for Beginner.

Simple black ink on white paper can create striking abstract art.

24. Sumi Ink Calligraphy

ink paintings
Student work by Don Stewart for Sumi Ink: Creating Marks and Textures.

East Asian Sumi ink, especially when paired with traditional-style Chinese and Japanese papers and brushes, is a beautiful medium for creating abstract works.

25. Blooming Ink on Canvas

abstract art
Paint large, colorful abstract patterns on canvas with ink.

By letting colorful ink flow over a canvas you can create big, bold blooms. Later, embellish them with gold or metallic paint, if you wish.

26. Alcohol Ink Abstract

Alcohol ink can create beautiful blooming effects.

Alcohol ink can create effects that are dreamy, delicate, and often unpredictable.

27. Alcohol Ink Sealed With Resin

abstract art
Seal your alcohol ink artworks with resin.

To give artworks made with alcohol ink a high shine and to protect them from surface damage, seal them with resin.

28. Neon Patterns

Neon highlighters are cheap and easy to find in office supplies stores, and they can be used to create abstract patterns that pop. It’s among the easiest of the abstract art ideas for beginners.

29. Abstract Mural

If you’ve experimented on a smaller scale and would like to put your abstract art on a larger scale, why not paint a mural on an indoor or outdoor wall?

30. Draw Abstracted Faces

Learn to deconstruct and abstract a face.

Artist Ambika Thiagarajan loves how deconstructing, abstracting, and reconstructing a face can help you see how beauty ideals are constructed.

31. Digital Painting

Student work by Michael Hayashi for Abstract Painting on Procreate.

If you have the technological tools, abstract art can be painted digitally, using programs like Procreate or Illustrator.

32. Digital Glowing Background

Learn how to use Photoshop to create abstract glowing backgrounds digitally.

33. Abstract Resin Wall Piece

abstract art
An abstract painting made with resin and acrylic paint.

Resin and acrylic paints can be combined to create an abstract painting to hang on the wall. These can also be made into clocks.

34. Textured Abstract Background

abstract art
Learn to create backgrounds for abstract paintings.

To create depth and interest in your abstract paintings, make a textured background first.

35. Holiday Decoration

Add abstract baubles to your Christmas tree.

This year, forget about reindeer and snowman holiday decorations and brighten up your tree with an abstract painted ornament!

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Written By

Elen Turner

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