My 5 Steps to Abstract Painting

abstract flower pattern on coral pink watercolor, learn to paint abstracts, debi riley, watercolor flower techniques

31 Days of May and the painting pressure is on!   But, it seems The Muse of Abstraction has shown her face today.

Yet, I had secretly hoped for the arrival of the Muse  “Delight in the Dance.”

And that with my Brush, the Muse and myself we’d have a lovely time, and not entertain the Muse of Tragedy.


learn to paint abstracts, coral hibiscus photograph, debi riley, beginners art lessons tips,,
Coral Hibiscus #1

Photo #1    This is the normal uncut regular view of the subject.

5 Steps To Abstracting Designs


learn to paint abstracts,, beginners watercolor lessons,
HIbiscus close up #2

Going From the regular view,  I’ve  now zoomed in closer in Photo #2.   I’m  zeroing in on just a few of the petal shapes.



simplifying flowers, flower abstract drawings.
Flower Design Petals #3


In Photo #3,  I’ve watercolored a foundation in golden orange and let it dry.

Then I went over the top, with a heavy marker.  Defining big exaggerated, broad petal shapes.

Unhindered by the ‘real’ color,  or the ‘real’ shapes’  or the ‘real’  tones.   At this point all I’m after is a design in lines.  An abstracted version of a floral subject!




abstract flower pattern on coral pink watercolor, learn to paint abstracts, debi riley, watercolor flower techniques
Coral Flower Pattern #4


Photo #4    I’ve made the watercolor background a pinker version.

Glazing over, to create a coral shade.  Then  retracing the design, discarding some of the exterior petals.

This creates a more abstract design.




floral digital abstract design, debi riley, painting abstracts,
Floral Digital

In photo #5  I went completely digital.  Just as a What If exercise.

Into photoshop, zooming into some areas, layering, adding and cropping. Then using multiple drawing and painting tools and filters. Plus played with the mirror image.  More Recoloring and cropping. ……..    What I do like about it, are the negative spaces.


These 5 images   show the steps of the journey that the Muse of Abstraction had in store for me today.



The Muses of Art

Muses are funny, fickle and fleeting.  They certainly can never be forced into obedience either.  They show as they will. Or not.

And, you get the one that deigns to visit.




I’ve done better.  I’ve done worse.  There is Always Tomorrow.

Tomorrow,  I’m sure will be better!


In the meantime:    My job, …. is to show up to the paper.

And Begin.




I was so hoping for the arrival of the Muse  “Delight in the Dance.”    That with my Brush, the Muse and myself we’d have a lovely time, and not entertain the Muse of Tragedy.




Additional Posts you may be interested in:


The Muses

A wonderfully rich in depth article on the mythology of the Muses!!



Design Lines

31 Days of May  

Taming the Dragon of Perfectionism      

Gumnut flowers 

Rose creations 




Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

31 thoughts on “My 5 Steps to Abstract Painting

  1. Love this post, absolutely a hard one when a “muse” either fails to show or the muse you didn’t intend on showing up! Delight in the Dance is coming 🙂 maybe this is just a step dance. 😉 I have to check out your posts further, you always have such insightful downright good info to share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks!
      I think its very important, to share and show, that art is hard Effort!
      that there are times of woohoo and times of Oh NO!
      I can’t just show all good stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I see this as just a step towards your good stuff. This stepping out in improving my watercolor painting and showing it all has been humbling and frightening! I think it is so good to step out and away from our good stuff showcase. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what else you will come up with.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. it is a step. and is certainly humbling. all can see…… the wrinkles, age spots, cracks, wear and tears, the imperfections that prevail.
        It is an exercise in near brutal authenticity, in honesty.
        And then, seeing the beauty within. wabi sabi.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Debi! Your steps are so helpful. I would love to abstract one of my photos and you’ve drawn me a map to success. Love the colors you chose throughout! And that digital design is cool, positive & negative shapes, methinks. Oh, your colors are so luscious! I had to review them again. Thank you, 3d, for your wisdom, as always. A guidepost, showing us the way. ((((((((((3d)))))))))))

    Liked by 1 person

      1. totally true! and we know for a fact, that all those stars and models… do not… wake up looking like that every day. and some days, they look so bad, they do not show up at all. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the step-by-step. I’ve been toying with ideas for something abstract…just wasn’t sure where or how to even begin. As always your post has provided much inspiration for future projects. I especially love the pink and coral colors you used.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you most kindly for that!!! I am happy that the instructional steps part of the post went well – and was helpful to you! I agree with you about the pink/coral. It seems to have muted the starkness, just a tiny bit. To make it the more palatable image. thank you for your feedback 🙂 Debi


  4. Thank you for this insight into the mind and process of thee Great debi! This is so helpful and real and super encouraging. I really appreciated and enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. helloo Jodi! I’m glad this info was of help/use!! whew.
      it was a humbling post and thats the way, art is, at times! I have to, take the not so good – right along with the Good! sigh.


  5. The Muse can’t do without one’s hand, eye, mind… which are always getting in the way of what the Muse wants… especially the mind. Eventually you realize, that to make art–the mind of the muse must be one with one’s own. And how that happens, is never the same two times in a row. It’s always rowing the boat in the fog, never knowing which way the shore… and no longer caring where you might end up.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: