My technique has evolved – only in the sense that is I have got better at it. There have been some additions to my arsenal of techniques to applying paint, but mostly it has been a grab bag of just about anything I can use that I would use in a photorealist work of art. It’s just that some of the techniques for abstract painting are a lot more appropriate.

  • Using a paintbrush to paint a stroke, dot or line
  • Flicking paint from a loaded brush
  • Using a finger to manipulate paint already on the surface
  • Dropping a droplet of paint from a brush
  • Pouring an amount of paint into a puddle
  • Tilting the board to make wet paint run across the board
  • Adding oil based paint to acrylic paint
  • Using a syringe to squirt paint in a direction
  • Using a syringe to drop a droplet of paint
  • Using a broad brush to apply paint to a large area
  • Removing half-dry paint off by washing painting off with a hose
  • Removing and smudging the paint with a rag
  • Using a can of spray paint

For many people, my abstract paintings look like there is no skill involved. Nothing could be further from the truth. The skills that I use in my abstract paintings are mostly compositional. That is I have to decide what technique and color I need to use to get that totally abstract and random look for that small (or large) area of the surface I am painting on.

The fact that I don’t have to finesse a particular and highly accurate shape into existence as I would with a photorealistic painting is one of the few differences between my two painting styles. In painting my photorealist work, I am constrained to copying those abstract elements in order to convey the image. What a lot of people don’t realize is that to make a photorealist painting look convincing the artist must paint the totally abstract elements that make up a photographic image faithfully. In learning that simple idea – photorealism is extremely ordered abstraction – I was able to master the art of photorealism.
Once I understood that idea, I was able to take my abstract painting seriously. What I realized early on was my approach was very much like taking a photographic image in my mind, tearing it up into small strips, shapes, confetti-like circular pieces and throwing them up into the air. Only to have them fall in a completely random manner on the board. My abstract painting is just a torn imaginary photograph.

Abstract expressionism painting techniques -1