Are you Intrigued by Abstracts?  Have you been wondering….”What is an abstract!?”

Would you like to know What are the differences between an abstract,  a semi-abstract, an Impressionist painting?


abstract oil painting, cobalt teal blue,
Abstract Oil #1 painting, cobalt teal blue,


Abstract Paintings  Described

How would I briefly, summarise them, define and describe them?


My version how I see Abstract paintings…..

I call them “non representational” art images.

They are abstractions.

They do not represent any particular object or group of objects.



If I can tell it is a ‘bowl’ or a ‘boat’ or a ‘flower’ …. then,  I’d class it either semi-abstract or Impressionist. Depending on the work.





Abstract paintings are very different from   Impressionism.


In Impressionism we can very clearly identify there is a tree, boat, sky, people, flower, etc. but with a vague and soft approach.

As though looking through a foggy mirror perhaps. The edges are softer and blurred.


watercolours The Wharf impressionistic painting
Watercolours The Wharf impressionistic on site painting


debi riley art, daisies by white cottage fence, watercolor painting,
Shasta Daisies watercolor


watercolour bouquet
Bright and Joyful Mother’s Day – a Watercolour Bouquet


Photo Realism 

Abstracts are so different to photo realism in which we will be  intensely aware of every micron of detail that exists within that scene and subject. Almost hyper realism.  Its a case of “It is a replica – of the photograph.”

Not my cup of tea.  But, it is most certainly my brother’s.



Semi Abstract

A Semi – Abstract painting has a dominance of abstract qualities. But, with just a little  more form and detail that strongly and clearly suggests a particular object or scene.

craggy tactile texture in watercolour using molding paste,
Watercolour Craggy Mountain


zen of colour: forest in cobalt teal blue pg50,
Zen of Colour: Forest

Maybe sky, mountain, ocean, rocks and boulders in a rushing river (as in Green, May your River Run. Below.)

oil landscape abstract painting,
Abstract Landscape in Oils



An Abstract painting doesn’t have clearly identifiable elements.

It is open for the viewer to interpret as they will.

As Their fancy takes them!

colors of the ocean, abstract oil painting, debi riley
Ocean Colors, Oil Abstract #2,


This style of painting appeals to me most of all.


I like the idea that viewers are actively engaged within the artwork, using their creativity. Using their imaginations.


That really pleases me,  when I am able to stir and inspire someone’s imagination to take flight!!






Abstract Artists to look at

Some of my favorite artists are and were abstract specialists.

So many world class artists have painted in the Abstract genre.


These people are Brilliant!


Wassily Kandinsky

Georgia O’Keefe

John Olsen 

Franz Kline

Robert Motherwell

Mark Rothko

Paul Klee

Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins colorfilled abstracts,
Paul Jenkins

Bridget Riley


Toko Shinoda

Toko Shinoda, Japanese wabi sabi,
Toko Shinoda, brushstroke mastery




There are other types of art:  botanical, illustrative, graphic design, and more,  that I didn’t cover.

I really just wanted to focus on the 3-4  types of art that might get confused most often by the beginner artist. For now.


Defining Abstract Art is personal and subjective to a certain extent; but one can say that Abstract paintings are  “Non – Representational” art.