Abstract Art - Finding Inspiration

How Do You Get Inspiration?

Sometimes (in fact quite often) people ask me how I get inspiration for my abstract paintings. Mostly I am inspired by particular colours or textures or have an idea come into my mind of a pattern or colour combination that I want to turn into a painting, but at other times I use other methods to find inspiration for my paintings.

If you are an artist who wants to venture into abstract art or else you have been creating abstract art for a while but need some inspiration or new ideas on what to create then here are a few things that might inspire you for your next painting:

The painting above the bed was inspired by the colours of the furnishings and was created with some dashes of texture.
The painting above the bed was inspired by the colours of the furnishings and was created with some dashes of texture.
This is actually some flooring from a home magazine
This is actually some flooring from a home magazine

Using Magazines

A great idea for getting inspiration for your paintings is to take a snapshot of a piece of a magazine. Look through magazines that have lots of pictures of adverts and see if you can find a piece of those that might be good as an abstract painting. It doesn't have to be something that looks like anything, in fact it is better if it doesn't, but you will find some interesting options in magazines.

A good way to find something is to use a cardboard cutout as a frame, maybe just a few inches wide and high, and use this to pick out pieces from a page. Quite often, adverts have interesting colours in them that you can pick out.

The image to the right is one I have taken out of a picture in a magazine that would provide inspiration for a painting in some shades of gold and silver.

Fabrics and Furniture

You can get a lot of inspiration from fabrics and furniture patterns. Don't copy them exactly as they are as this would not be your own design but maybe pick out elements of the pattern or elements of the colours that have been used in the fabrics. Cushions, bed covers and curtains are particularly good things to take inspiration from.

Create An Inspiration Scrapbook

I have a scrapbook where I glue in cuttings from magazines of things that I might use in future to base a painting on. These could be cuttings of actual paintings themselves that I really like and maybe I can figure out why I like that painting - is it the composition or the colour scheme etc.

Other cuttings are from magazines as I have detailed which could be fabrics, floors, vases, or anything that I just like the look of. If you cut these out when you see them then you will end up with a book of inspirational items that you can pick bits and pieces from to create into your own painting.

The original photo from a ski scene, before any distortion.
The original photo from a ski scene, before any distortion.
The distorted photo, which could be used for the basis of an abstract painting.
The distorted photo, which could be used for the basis of an abstract painting.

Inspiration From Photographs

Look through your photographs and see if there are any that have great colour combinations – more often than not nature picks better colours than we can ourselves and that can be an inspiration.

Use a photo editing software to distort the image – it doesn’t have to be expensive software, you can get free programs that will do this too. See the images on the right from one of my photos that will give me inspiration for an abstract painting. I took the image and blurred it and added ripples with a cheap editing software.

Choose photos where the colour combinations are good and manipulate them until you get an abstract idea. You don't have to copy the result completely but it may give you some ideas for a composition.

Colour Combinations or Textures

Sometimes I will just take inspiration from a particular mix of colours. For example I recently completed a painting in blues and greens but there was one particular part of the painting that I liked that had some exact blue/green shades in. For my next painting I wanted to use those exact shades as they had turned out so well so I would choose some texture on which to base those colours.

In another painting, I might have an idea that I wanted to use something particular as texture in the painting - for example the spacers that you use when putting up tiling. So the main inspiration would be the texture and only once I had put the texture on the canvas would I choose the colour scheme.

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Comments 5 comments

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Awesome article which very inspiring an educating.Thanks for sharing.


Azure11 profile image

Azure11 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks crystolite.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Excellent hub. Your scrapbook idea is superb and one I never thought of. Thank you.


Azure11 profile image

Azure11 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks Genna, yes the scrapbook thing really works for me, I now have a big scrapbook that I can refer to when I need some new ideas.


CulturalArtsTraveller 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this with us Marian.Love it! Makes me want to go back to painting even more.

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