Secret Techniques for Acrylic Abstract Paintings

Abstract painting is an art style that is open, expressive and without boundaries. The meaning of such works is solely dependent on the spectator’s interpretation of them. Abstraction is an art style not dependent on recognizable forms.

Some artists develop their own application techniques to create an abstract painting.

In using acrylics, an artist is free to experiment with a wide range of secret techniques regarding line, color, shape and texture to express his own style of abstract expression.

Unusual Backgrounds

Using this technique, an artist creates a collage or textured surface to form the canvas background of an abstract painting. The artist may coat a canvas with a layer of papier mache. The artist may paint, splatter or drip plaster of Paris over the canvas; or alternatively to apply acrylic heavy gel or modelling paste to create texture. Twigs, hay, leaves or dried pasta can also be stuck to the canvas in a random or patterned manner to create a tactile and decorative background. To add visual interest, materials such as newspaper, food labels, gift-wrap paper and bus tickets can be constructed into a collage. The artist applies acrylic paint thinly or thickly over the background to complete the abstract painting.

Paint Textures

Another trick an artist uses is to try to create texture through the paint medium itself. The artist might mix craft sand and white craft glue together with an acrylic color and then to paint it on the surface of the canvas in an abstract way. This will yield a gritty, grainy texture that will help to create textural contrasts within the painting. Other substances can be used: sawdust or polystyrene balls, for example.

Alternative Applicators

Acrylic paint does not have to be applied to the canvas with a traditional bristle brush. It can be applied using various methods: finger painting, cloth rubbing, sponging, stamping or applying paint directly on the canvas from the tube. Objects from nature like twigs, stones or hay can also be used to apply or blend an acrylic medium.


Some artists use the laws of chance to create abstract shapes on a canvas. The artist might squirt different colors directly on the canvas and then cover the paint-laden canvas with a sheet of paper. The artist then presses the paper to spread the paint beneath. When the paper is lifted, the artistic result is an abstract, its colors blended into arbitrary shapes. Rubbing is another technique used by artists to capture shape and abstract patterns. For example, finding an unusual texture on a metal grate or an old stone building slab, the artist might place a sheet of paper on top the textured surface and rub a graphite pencil or piece of charcoal across the paper. Later the artist can duplicate the created pattern in a more methodically created abstract painting.