5 Ways to Create Great Abstract Paintings from Nature

Pink Camilla by Georgia Okeefe

“I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.” –  Georgia O’Keeffe

Nature has always been one of the favorite sources of inspiration for oil painters.  And abstract oil paintings that derive their inspiration from nature are often the most compelling.

This article outlines a few ways ordinary objects in nature can be used to create great abstract paintings.

1. Magnification

Objects in nature have an aesthetic beauty from afar, but even more so from a very close up point of view.  An organic object can provide inspiration for an oil painting even when just the tiniest portion of it is the focus.

Georgia O’Keeffe is famous for her magnified interpretations of organic flowers.  Each are cropped to a point where the flower is almost unrecognizable. But the beauty and design the abstraction creates is enchanting.

Magnification allows the artist to communicate the delicate intrinsic qualities the viewer may not notice in the object’s actual size.

Although the object may be unrecognizable at first, upon realization the viewer is afforded the luxury to experience life through a fresh point of view.

2. Exaggeration 

Rachael Pink is a contemporary artist that uses exaggeration effectively.

In her recent work “Sat Underneath an Almost Cloudless Sky” (Acrylic and Collage on Paper/2011) we can discern the subtle colors of the landscape.  There are the soft cerulean blues of the sky.  The deep greens of a vast and expansive landscape.

But it is not the landscape as we actually see it.  It has been transformed, exaggerated to meet with her personal artistic vision.

3. Accentuation

Accentuating certain aspects of forms in nature is another means to abstraction.

Accentuation can be a great way to let one object in the composition have predominance over the whole.

Accentuation works best when used sparingly.  If everything is accentuated, then nothing is.

4. Distortion

Surrealism and Cubism are great examples of movements in art history that were known for distortion.  Nature wasn’t used exclusively as inspiration for these movements, but was often prevalent.

Similar to magnification and accentuation, distortion of nature can allow for a fresh new approach toward understanding the world as we know it.

Distorting the proportions of an object or certain qualities can cause abstract visual stimulation that opens doors to new thinking.

5. Combination of any of the above

We are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such an inspiring force as nature. The resources for creating a great abstract painting are all around us.

Even if a natural object is chosen completely arbitrarily, using magnification, accentuation, distortion , or a combination thereof will always prove to open the creative oil painter toward amazing abstract imagery.

So, grab a mushroom, a rock, a pine cone, or even your dog! The potential lying within nature is limitless.

Can you think of other ways to abstract nature?

What is your favorite way to abstract from nature? It might be one of these five, or something completely different. Let us know in the comments!


About Gary Bolyer Fine Art

I am a New York City-based landscape artist.
This entry was posted in How to Paint in Oils and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 5 Ways to Create Great Abstract Paintings from Nature

  1. Pingback: 5 Ways to Create Great Abstract Paintings from Nature | Gary … | Oil Painting Outlet

  2. Pingback: Gary Bolyer’s Top 7 How-to-Paint Blogs | Gary Bolyer Fine Art

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