What are some of the tips to successfully choose your abstract wall art? Abstract wall art became a new trend over the past few years. Abstract wall art is more common to see in our homes, offices, corporate offices, major retail shops, restaurants, hospitals and many other public venues. Why? Simply because more of us are discovering its hidden beauty.
What is Abstract Painting?
I have written another article, What is Abstract Painting, with more details, so I’m not going to go into many details here. But it is interesting to say something about what is art?
One of the best definitions I have come across is by Merriam-Webster dictionary. Art is defined as the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects. This is a beautiful definition of the word art itself. But the true meaning of art is much broader as it represents and reflects human life experiences across time.
Abstract painting is so unique in the sense that it does not depict anything from the real world, it does not represent or refer to a familiar object. (I’m mainly referring to “non-representational” abstract painting in this article). This is the art that is more about evoking inner feelings using colours, shapes, lines, texture, etc. rather than a defined familiar object.
It can be hard for many people to appreciate abstract painting because we are all used to being able to quickly interpret everything around us to something familiar, something that we could recognise. When faced with unfamiliar objects we may become uncomfortable not being able to identify or understand that object. Our mind seems to reject or block the unfamiliar.
This is one of the main reasons that people dislike abstract painting. There is nothing in the painting to hold their attention, there is nothing recognisable, just a random selection of colours, shapes and lines. So, where is the beauty of abstract painting?
Tip # 1 – The Hidden Beauty of Abstract Painting
Again, this is where abstract painting art is so different and unique. Its beauty is not on the surface of the painting. It is hidden way too deep in your feelings. The colours and shapes on the surface are just the emotional power to trigger your journey within your innermost feelings. Once you make that connection with the painting, you will begin your journey to your true inner self.
I came across this article “Abstract art unlocks the truth about the universe” which intrigued me to find out more about it. The article was mainly about Jackson Pollock and his fantastic style of painting. But the latter part of the article did not explain much about the title of the article.
The hidden beauty of abstract painting is similar, in a way, to poetry. Do you remember those at school? Poetry holds a deeper meaning that, sometimes, is too difficult to appreciate because we don’t understand the lyrics. But once you know and appreciate those deeper meanings and metaphors, the whole thing becomes different, becomes beautiful, it means something and it feels something meaningful.
Several studies have discovered that abstract art can have profound emotional powers influencing the mood of the viewer. It could be because abstract painting allows you the freedom of expression. The brain is free from any representation restrictions. Although I mentioned the “brain”, it is our feelings, not our brain when it comes to abstract art.
When you see a beautiful sunset, your brain finds it easy to translate and interpret all the elements because they are all recognisable objects. And the brain can again easily interpret your evoked emotions.
With abstraction, it is entirely different. The brain, in many cases, is unable to recognise the elements of the painting and, therefore, is unable to communicate with your feelings. To truly appreciate abstract art, I believe you will need to engage your feelings first and recognise your evoked emotions before engaging your brain.
To appreciate the hidden beauty of abstract painting, stop trying to understand it or understand the artist and why did he/she paint the artwork and what is his/her message. Abstract painting is directly between you and the painting and nothing else. You either like it or not. It either evokes your emotions or not. If it does not connect with you, it is unlikely to evoke any emotions.
Tip # 2 – Colour Themes of Abstract Painting
Many interior designers, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, took their inspirations from the abstract art world, such as minimalism, bold colours and geometric shapes. Abstract painting added advantage is in that it does not feature real subjects, it offers more versatility to choosing your wall art.
Abstract painting focuses on the feelings it evokes through its emotional power of colours, shapes, lines, texture, etc. This unique feature of abstract painting provides you with a wide range of choices available to match your personality and your mood.
For example, it could be the element of colours that evoke certain emotions, or possibly the lines and texture. The decision of choosing the artwork is yours as long as it makes you feel happy.
Let’s not underestimate the psychological power of colours on our moods. Many studies demonstrate the different influences of different colours on our moods. Such influence may be subjective and depends on personal experience and culture, but it still can affect our moods.
Let’s also remember that colours are a form of significant and powerful communication for humans. Colours are all around us and we use them to communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings. Colour meaning and association could be truly endless, but here are a few common interpretations:
Red, is commonly associated across many cultures with energy and demand for attention. It also represents passion, anger and revenge. In China, red represents happiness, prosperity and luck. But in South Africa, red is associated with death.
Yellow or orange is the colour of the sun, representing spring, brightness, joy, optimism and happiness. However, in some countries in South East Asia where monks wear saffron-coloured robes, the colour is associated with what is sacred and holy. Yellow ochre pigment was one of the first colours in art used many thousands of years ago in some of the Cave Paintings.
Green is associated with nature, good health, hope and flourishing. But it is also associated with jealousy in some Western cultures. William Shakespeare in 1603 referred to jealousy as a “green-eyed monster” in his tragic play Othello.
Black is elegant representing power, but it is also associated with death and mourning.
Blue represents calmness, the sky and the sea. According to several surveys carried out in many countries, blue is the most favourite colour in the world. And the same colour is popular among both sexes.
Purple is associated, in some of the Western cultures, with royalty, luxury and sophistication. Historically speaking, the purple colour was always the most expensive to produce. Purple is at the far end of the visible colour spectrum (Rainbow) and is the hardest colour for the eye to discriminate. Purple is relatively rare in nature. It was known as Tyrian purple dye made from mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex snail. The dye originally came from the Phoenician trading city of Tyre (Lebanon now).
White is the lightest colour representing purity and space. It is also associated with cleanliness, freshness and simplicity. In Feng Shui, white colour is considered powerful to organise your environment and create harmony. But many other cultures associate white with death, ghosts and phantoms.
Tip # 3 – Abstract Painting Styles
Every artist develops their style of abstract painting, or indeed, any other type of art. It is a natural instinct. Your style is a reflection of you, whether you realise it or not. Here are some of my favourite abstract painting styles.
Monochrome adds a great painting statement, sophisticated, bold and brave. Monochrome painting is not a new style and has been used by many great artists over many years. Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935), Josef Albers (1888-1976), Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967), Yves Klein (1928-1962), Lucio Fontana (1899–1968), Robert Ryman (1930-2019) and many more.
Black and white paintings, for example, are amongst the most popular styles for wall art at homes, offices and public buildings. Black and white are some of my favourite colours as you can develop several grades and shades of each hue. So, the result of the painting isn’t necessarily just black and just white.
A great example of black and white abstract painting style is also found in Chinese and Japanese free style ink brush painting. A skilful single brush stroke is capable of conveying vitality and contemplation. Amazing brush strokes skill which I find fascinating.
Abstract gestural painting is a beautiful art as it originates from the innermost emotions and feelings of the painter. The painting is created with genuine honest, personal and self-expression of the artist’s deepest emotions. This is the art that I classify as Painting Your Feelings With Your Feelings.
This is the type of art where the artist comes closest to connecting with their subconscious and the painting is created without applying any of the usual art rules or restrictions. It simply allows the artist the ultimate freedom of visual expression. What is painted on the canvas is true feelings – the artist’s feelings.
This is what makes abstract gestural painting so difficult to copy as no one can copy somebody else’s feelings. Many times I tried to copy some of my paintings, but I was nowhere close. Amazing art. And it is the kind of abstract painting that I personally enjoy creating.
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is one of the most famous abstract gestural artists. One of his paintings, “Number 19 (1984)”, was auctioned at a record high of $58.4 million in 2013. However, it was reported but not confirmed, that his painting “Number 5 1948” was sold privately for $140 million in 2006.
Other great abstract gestural artists like Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner (1908-1984 Jackson Pollock’s wife) and Robert Motherwell (1915-1991).
Brush stroke is another beautiful gestural style of abstract painting where the brush stroke itself is the image. Many great artists used this style of painting. It may seem to be random brush strokes here or there, but every brush stroke is usually created with a great deal of technique and amazing detail.
Some of the most well known artists who used this style include Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) and Qin Feng (1961).
Qin Feng 秦风 is well known as a pioneer of contemporary ink painting and the Chinese avant-grade movement. His unique style of painting is influenced by two very different art styles, the centuries-old art of Chinese ink brush painting tradition and modern Western abstract expressionism. He is also known for using tea and coffee as part of his painting materials.
Chinese and Japanese free brush painting style may look simple but it is so amazingly beautiful and far from being easy or simple. I became intrigued by this style of painting when I began to travel to Japan in the early 1980s. Many years ago I created a few digital images inspired by Chinese and Japanese brush painting styles.
Line art uses lines to draw or paint two or three-dimensional objects. Line artists use defined and bold lines without shading or tones. Line art is a clear bold statement. This type of art is one of the oldest and can go back to more than 50,000 years or even older used in Cave Paintings.
There are several types of line art, e.g. figurative which mainly uses black lines painted on a white surface, abstract line art uses shapes, forms, colours and gestural marks.
Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are amongst many other great artists who created memorable paintings and drawings using line art style.
Other abstract painting styles include minimalism, cubism, marble effect, etc. which you might find an interesting choice for your wall art.
Tip # 4 – Some of the most selling painting subjects
We all know what type of painting we like and what type of painting we don’t like. We like to look longer at the ones we like. We also stare and look at others for long periods of time but may not necessarily like them. But they capture our attention, they make us think and they evoke our emotions.
Prints of paintings sell more than original artworks as they tend to be less expensive. Limited edition prints are most popular as the buyers know they are buying a piece of artwork that is not mass produced.
Here is a list of some of the most selling painting subjects, not necessarily in any particular order:
- Traditional landscapes and seascapes
- Local views
- Modern or semi-abstracts
- Contemporary art
- Dogs, cats, horses and other wildlife
- Still life
- Abstract landscapes
- Pop art
- Impressionistic landscapes
In addition to the subject, the mood of a painting is very important when choosing your wall art. How does the painting make you feel? Happy or sad, inspired or irritated. There are many genres of paintings and you don’t need to be an artist or an art graduate to choose your wall art. Choose the one that you feel most comfortable with, the one that makes you feel happy and inspired.
Tip # 5 – What size painting – small vs large
Before you decide to purchase your beautiful canvas, you will want to consider a few things for your wall space and what size fits best. Some people use masking tape to outline the canvas dimensions to visualise it on their walls.
I think one of the better ways is to take photos of your wall space and upload the painting image to give a good visual illustration of seeing the canvas on your wall. There are many “Apps” that would help you to do so easily.
Then the question about the size, does size matter? Absolutely. There are a couple of guidelines that will help you to pick the right size of wall art for your space. A little bit of math is involved, but nothing too complicated.
- Your canvas art should take up approximately 60% – 75% of the available wall space – that is the wall space that is not covered by furniture. Measure the width and height of your wall space and then multiply them by 0.60 and 0.75. For example, if your wall space measures 6 feet wide by 9 feet, then using the above multiply
6 x 0.60 = 3.6 and 6 x 0.75 = 4.5, i.e. the ideal width of the canvas would be between 3.6 to 4.5 feet.
9 x 0.60 = 5.4 and 9 x 0.75 = 6.75, i.e. the ideal height of the canvas would be between 5.4 to 6.75 feet.
- When hanging wall art over furniture, e.g. sofa or bed, the canvas should be 2/3 to 3/4 of the width of the furniture. For example, if your bed is 6 feet wide, then multiply 6 by 0.66 and 0.75. So the canvas should be between 3.6 feet and 4.5 feet wide.
The height at which you hang the artwork should be at eye level to the centre of the canvas. The standard is 57” from the centre of the artwork to the floor. It is the average human eye height. This is the most aesthetically pleasing and most museums and galleries follow the same rule. Also, remember to leave between 6 to 12 inches above the top of furniture if you are hanging a canvas above furniture.
Hanging wall art at the wrong height is, by far, one of the most common design mistakes.
If you are hanging a group of artwork pieces, make sure to treat them as one piece. Some interior designers prefer to hang the largest piece towards the middle, others prefer to hang it at the bottom left. Interior designers may like to apply their own rules, which is fine and could be correct, but it is entirely up to you and what makes you feel comfortable.
Tip # 6 – Orientation; portrait or landscape
A rectangular painting has two ways to be turned, either portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal). Your wall space will determine the orientation of the way you hang your painting. Think about the wall space orientation before you buy your painting.
If your wall space is wider than taller, a landscape painting would fit better and vice versa.
Tip # 7 – Location, where to hang the painting
Hanging artwork on the wall is not the only way to display it. Depending on the size and the frame, you could stand it on the floor leaning against a wall, place it on a suitable easel or a mantelpiece. This gives you more flexibility to change your arrangements easily without drilling holes in the wall.
Wall art can add a great statement to living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, offices, public buildings or whatever wall spaces. It can be simple but very effective if you plan it right at the beginning.
How to choose your artwork? Choose your piece of artwork that makes you comfortable and happy. Choose the artwork that connects with you rather than just choosing it as a piece of décor. Being surrounded by artwork that connects with you is incredibly rewarding and inspiring.
Shapes, lines and colours can and do influence our mood without us realising the effects. Abstract paintings are true examples of their beauty in using the emotional powers of colours and shapes.
Art is more than a beautiful piece of decoration and I hope this article will give you some tips to successfully choose your abstract wall art.
Please feel free to add your comments. I would like to hear from you.
I created all the paintings included in this article using acrylic paints.