Dissecting The Masters

Creating new and exciting designs can be challenging for the abstract painter.

Landscape painters have the landscape before them as their design.  They get to pick and choose what they want to include in their painting as there is something visible and concrete before them.

With abstraction you are left with a blank canvas and sometimes a blank mind.  The dilemma is easily corrected by turning to the work of the Masters.

To show you what I mean let’s take a look at the painting “Te Rerioa” (The Dream)  by Gauguin.

What you want to do is look at Gauguin’s design and ask yourself,

How can I turn this into an abstract painting?

Your first job is to decide what you want to have as your center of interest.  In this painting it is of the two women sitting on the floor. You can select both women as your center of interest or use just one with the other being a supporting shape.

After deciding your center of interest you would look to see how Gauguin used lines and shapes to take the eye to his center of interest.  

With this in mind you would do the same but being selective in the shapes within his painting to use in yours.  

The purpose of this exercise is not to copy Gauguin’s design but rather take it apart and use what you want to develop an abstract design that is yours.

Doing many thumbnail sketches will allow you to eliminate and refigure the shapes so your design is what you want.

(As an abstract artist I am more geometric in my shapes verses organic (more round).  Another thing to remember is make sure your thumbnail sketches are the same shape as the canvas you will be working on.  This makes it much easier when transferring your design.)

This is a great way to hone your design skills and develop abstracts that are new and fresh.

Have fun with this exercise and let me know which master’s work you selected to re-design.

If you’re unsure of what type of design, shapes and colors suit you, download my Claim Your Visual Images cheat sheet here.

Until next time

Create brilliantly,


Download Cheat Sheet


What do you think? Comment below:

If you found this article helpful, we’d love you to share it!

Sign up for our newsletter
Share this with a friend