How to draw abstract (Drawing: Shifted)

by Henk ter Heide on Friday August 17, 2007

in Technique

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Before I realized that photographs and drawings aren’t supposed to look alike I did like to draw. I just was afraid of the end result.
So to taste the joy of drawing without having to be afraid of the end result I drew a lot of Intersecting bottles. But there was only a limited amount of joy I could get out of drawing intersecting bottles. When it bored me I’d try my hand at some abstract art.

Shapes and feelings

I tried but never succeeded. I ran into a few problems.
I didn’t know what shapes I should draw. Is it abstract if you just draw a few colored rectangle? Apparently since Mondrian did it. But I didn’t know that as a child and thought that drawing rectangles would be boring.
Somewhere I read or heard that abstract drawings should be about feelings. But how do you draw anger or falling in love? I could draw two people fighting or kissing but that wouldn’t be abstract.

My abstract drawings

The last few weeks I’ve been doing some abstract drawings. The funny thing is that I never set out to draw abstract. I just drew a few pictures that came to mind.

  • Trying to perfect a technique I drew Mask.
  • Not ready to admit defeat, I tried what a spoiled drawing could have been and produced Patched.
  • While trying to draw a colored river I drew Tentacles.
  • Trying to fight my fear for drawing unstructured I made Who’s afraid of yellow, red (and blue).
  • A piece of carpet on the BBC show Click (of all places) remembered me of something that looked like Sideways.
  • While being bored to tears I close my eyes and saw “Shifted”.

Shifted
Shifted

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The rules

After doing a few abstract drawings I’ve found that there are a few rules that make it much easier to make abstract drawings.

  1. Drawing abstract isn’t a short cut. All of the above drawings took me several days to complete. Whether the portrait you draw is any good or not, it will only take an hour to complete.
  2. It’s very easy to find a shape to draw because anything will do. Use the shape of what ever is in front of you. If you don’t like that shape add a few line (like I did in Intersecting bottles).
    A technique I often use is just closing my eyes and using the shapes and colors I see at the inside of my eyelids. (It helps if you face a dim lamp while doing this).
  3. Drawing abstract has everything to do with feelings but that doesn’t mean you can chose to draw an emotion.
    Abstract is about the emotions you feel while your drawing. Your feelings will influence the colors you chose. If you’re feeling depressed you’ll chose darker colors then when you’re happy.
    When I was drawing Tentacles I had the eerie feeling I was putting an invisible message into my drawing.

Featured on See me draw

A fitting site for an article about abstract art. I don’t think I would ever have thought of this but you can even use leftover paint to produce very nice abstract paintings.
Be sure to also read the rest of the site. Anne-Laure Djaballah does very nice abstract paintings.