John Salminen has an interesting hour long dvd lesson on nonobjective painting. It’s called “A Designed Approach to Abstraction with John Salminen.” To very briefly summarize, he demonstrates first drawing overlapping shapes onto watercolor paper, then choosing a fairly central interesting shape to leave as the lightest light and painting in a few small shapes with the darkest darks around it, and then working around the painting, coloring in shapes in various ways to modify the values from dark to light and from light to dark.
After seeing this lesson, I tried to create several nonobjective paintings in this way. I found that doing nonobjective paintings (or “abstracts” as some people call them) taught me insights about the principles of design that I did not figure out when painting subject matter. In addition, they were fun to do, and I recommend trying nonobjective painting as a way to focus on design. Later, maybe I can figure out how to make nonobjective paintings expressive of an emotion or thought as well.
Here are a few of my nonobjective paintings: