Strong abstract art is easier to produce with strong technique.  After watching painters like Osnat dominate the Ebay art spectrum, I often found myself wishing I could see them paint, like the art hero Bob Ross. Though that wasn't possible, Osnat offered a variety of helpful information in the "Art Education" section of her website. Intrigued by her pouring technique and layering ability, I created many pour paintings myself and realized there must be something more to it than just pouring. Technique set her art apart and I learned many throughout my education that I would carry into the realm of my abstract work.

Adding Depth & Interest using Gestalt principle:

Trifecta (the painting in the video above) demonstrates how 3 "circles" can be used to create depth and interest. It’s a great classroom project for students familiarizing themselves with oil paint. Just provide frames or small pieces of wood, or even thick books to the students to place around their paintings. They must be even in height and rest about 1/8-1/2 inch above the surface of the canvas so that when a ruler is placed on top, the bottom does not touch the surface of the painting.

Just by moving one circle slightly off the canvas, we easily create interest. Something is amiss and therefore interesting. If needed, use a stencil such as the circle one used in the video. Remember, our eyes send signals to the brain to make accurate assessments about what we're seeing while utilizing the Gestalt principle. 2 circles continue off the painting to create the sense of 3 balls in space. Only 1 ball is presented within the image among 2 curved lines. Our minds fill in the blank using their distance apart and curves suggesting size. These signals tell our imagination to render 3 balls within the space.


In this video 4 wooden bars hold my ruler steady while I pull colors from the background’s wet layer of paint using Titanium White. For the background Blue and Ivory Black were mixed to produce the color shown here. In addition to the ruler I use a circle stencil to create the sharp form sought in creating this painting. The wooden bars act as a safety net so I don’t smudge the desired straight lines while working.

Crimson Lake and Yellow are added to the brush and dragged through the white areas to add variety and interest, while remaining to their sides of the battlefield and rarely crossing. Blurred lines appear where different colors are pulled through them, again adding interest to the image. Using this technique an infinite number of paintings could be produced.

Notes: It's important to learn the monotony of creating your first perfectly flat background using a naturally thin oil paint, such as ivory black, mixed with blue, and optionally, odorless mineral spirits (blue has a longer drying time, so experiment with your oil mixtures and scientific concoctions using detailed spreadsheets). Use a flat brush and create straight strokes with a stiff hand, arm and shoulder.

Trust each stroke by getting enough paint on the brush and practicing each stroke 1-2 times on the palette before lying down oil on the prepared hardboard. Even out the surface by looking at different angles in the light and assuring no resounding glare or visually disturbing problem has occurred within the flat surface of the paint.

Infinite Possibilities:

The background could be any color imaginable and so can the colors within the foreground. An infinite array of stencils can be produced by cutting out shapes in blank stencils or cardboard. Vary the size and types of brushes for even more optical illusions utilizing depth and placement to produce interest.

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