Tips For Painting Semi Abstract Artwork - Construct & Deconstruct

Finished Construct & Deconstruct Demo

Tips For Painting Semi Abstract Artwork - Construct & Deconstruct

In this lesson you will learn tips for painting semi abstract artwork using acrylics and mixed media. The idea behind the method is to illustrate how important it is to know your subject before you attempt to abstract it. Most beginners, and impatient artists, tend to go for finished art way too soon. So, their ability to paint abstract subjects typically flounders because they do not understand how to do it. In short, they do not fully understand how their subject is constructed and more importantly what shapes, features and details need to be included for it to become believable.

Here's A Three Step Process To Constructing & Deconstructing

I'll illustrate this technique using a very simple subject. This three step approach is the perfect method for starting slow and building on the success.

Step One - Charcoal

  • Drawing with charcoal and how I first construct the subject. The goal is to draw the subject in a somewhat representational manner before I try to add my looseness later on.
  • If you spend time getting to know the subject and how it's constructed you will have more success at abstracting it later on.
  • Why drawing first? It's the easiest method to get started. Do this before you attempt painting.
  • Step two of using charcoal is to deconstruct the subject.
  • The idea is that the time spent drawing the subject representationally has helped you understand the subject better. And, more importantly, what features, shapes and details you need to get right. The other stuff can be looser, or abstract. Get it?

Important: Please keep in mind that you should construct your subjects as much as possible before you deconstruct. And, you should always practice deconstructing with charcoal, or whatever material you prefer, as much as possible. This will keep you evolving so that you discover more about how you can abstract your subjects.

Charcoal demo image - tips for creating semi-abstract art

Charcoal sketching - how to develop an abstract style

Step Two: Introduce Value, Tone & Color (see image at top)

  • Now it's time to paint in the same manner we did in the previous exercise. Be sure to follow the same exact steps.
  • Begin with the construction phase in order to create a solid base for values & tones. I can't express enough how important this step is & I encourage you to spend quality time with this step.
  • When that's complete, and again, the more the better, you can proceed with the fun stuff; deconstruction. If you have been proactive with all the steps you will have fantastic results.
  • If at first you do not get what your want, spend more time constructing & deconstructing with charcoal.

Note: I spend the majority of my easel time doing exercises just like this one. I've been told many times that what I do is a gift and not everyone can do it. I disagree. These skills are developed because I spend a tremendous amount of time working at it!

Step Three - Finding Freedom With Mixed Media

If you love mixed media you can add this technique to the same process. Start with step one as mentioned earlier. It works just as effectively here as it did there.

In the Premium Version there is a video demonstration where I use mixed media to deconstruct the chair as seen below. Just a quick sketch but hopefully you can start to see where I'm finding my freedom with the subject by applying Construct & Deconstruct.

Tips For Painting Semi Abstract Artwork

Tips For Painting Semi Abstract Artwork

Note: This is the free version. If you would like access to the Premium Video Tutorial Version it's available via SkillShare

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