5 ways to ensure your abstract painting is sufficiently abstract

Posted by Gina Parr on 21st March 2014

Gina Parr was born in Exeter, and originally trained as a Fine Artist. Having graduated with a First Class Honours Degree she went on to Chelsea College of Art to study Set Design for Television, worked for the BBC as a Senior Production Designer and later as a Freelance Production Designer across all channels. Her credits span 27 years and include shows as diverse as The Brit Awards, Goodness Gracious Me, Eastenders, The Royal Variety Performance and the 2006 World Cup.In 2007 she started to work full time as a painter and in 2010/11 whilst travelling in France and Asia she started, a now continuing series, photographing marks on walls and surfaces as her way of “painting” with her camera whilst on the move. 
Her work, described as muscular, strong, vibrant and bold is in national and international private collections and has recently been purchased for the permanent Art collection at Keble College, Oxford. She exhibits in London at Thomas and Paul in Little Venice, Skylark Gallery on the South Bank, Battersea AAF and in 2014 is also part of Stars on Canvas in London, has a solo show at Burwash Art in Cambridge and work featuring on David Hares new BBC drama Worricker. Here are Gina's Top 5 Tips on how to create the perfect abstract.

1. Prepare.

Choose your medium, size of canvas, paper or board and colours that excite you. If you are unsure, start with mid size to give you enough space to work say 50 x 50 cms. 
Be aware of other artists whose work you like but do not get bogged down at this stage by looking at other peoples work; this process is about your work.

Gina Parr
What's the point 

2. Headspace.

Clear the decks before you go to paint. If there is a list of important things that need doing, this will distract you.

Gina Parr
Sea Fret

3. Focus.

What is it you want to express? It could be an emotion, an event a relationship or a place/ mood or atmosphere. Or it could just be about the paint and colour. 
It should be something you feel strongly about. Think of a possible title if it helps. Sometimes I start with a colour/emotion sometimes I start with an event or place.

Gina Parr
Out of Sight

4. Zone out.

Turn your phone off. Have your own space with freedom to make a mess if need be. Don’t let preconceptions about what is acceptable stand in your way. Get something on the canvas fairly quickly so it is not a scary blank space. Work with the paint and your intuition. Lose yourself. Balance, form and colour are paramount. Mood, texture, energy/calm are elements you might find important too depending on your approach. Avoid getting pulled back into representing things. We are hard wired to make visual sense of the world but this is a trap. Enjoy forming your own 
visual language to communicate your thoughts.

Gina Parr
Into Deep Water

5. Walk away.

This is probably the most difficult step. You need to decide at what point you are finished. If in doubt, leave it, stand back and contemplate. Hang it in your living space to remove from a studio context. Take a photo - I find seeing a new work in another medium helps me to see it more objectively.  If it hasn’t worked paint over it and repeat steps 1 to 5.
5b. Be prepared to be asked if it is the right way up!

Gina Parr
The Curve of the Field 2

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