“All of it and Probably More” 20×20, oil on canvas Buy Now

If you’re an artist who is anything like me, you want to make abstracts but don’t know how to start. I’ve got a system in place for my representational paintings– cadmium red wash, burnt sienna sketch, work from light and more saturated colors to dark and less saturated ones, blur edges, pull our hair, bite fingernails, add details. 

On day 12 I tried something I hadn’t before– I used a small piece of a representational painting to create an abstract, non-objective one. I did that same process for today’s (and tomorrow’s) painting.

Here’s the little piece of the painting I was using as the inspiration. It’s from an older painting of a heron– one of my favorites.


This time around, I let myself be a little more free. Today’s painting started off very much like a larger version of the thumbnail, but as I worked, I stopped looking at the reference all together and even pulled out a second canvas in the attempts to create a companion piece for today’s. I’ll be posting that one tomorrow, day 20.

Sometimes I have grandiose, mostly psychological, plans for my abstracts– they will be relaxing, meditative, energizing– but in reality I struggle through them the same way I’d struggle through any of my bird paintings.

This one was remarkably different. It was relaxing. I did feel energized. It reminded me that I love thick, gooey paint in and of itself and not just because it can form some thing (I even let some drip down the canvas).

I have written before about how I often feel the need to specialize– weddings, birds, abstracts, figures– what exactly do I do?

On day 19, I like rather than fear my answer: all of it and probably some more.