Finding my unique abstract language

Finding and developing my unique abstract language

Once upon a time, I hated abstracts. I didn’t understand the fascination with Jason Pollack’s crazy lines (still don’t), or why a single stipe of red across a canvas is considered “deep and meaningful work that traces the oeuvre” of an artist’s life and work (still don’t).

And still. I felt a pull towards abstract paintings. One that I didn’t understand. I mean, didn’t I just tell you how much I hated them?

So I tried. And resisted. And failed. And tried again. I got myself some books to try and understand abstract art – two, really:

Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media by Debora Stewart 

Abstracts In Acrylic and Ink: A Playful Painting Workshop by Jodi Ohl

I studied the techniques – abstract composition, lines, colors, contrast.

I tried to implement what I read and learnt. And failed.

You see, I rarely paint in a structured manner. I don’t plan out compositions or styles. I never know what I’m going to paint – let alone trying to keep all those darn techniques in mind. It felt, to me, like a very rigid approach to painting – almost like painting by number, definitely not something I’m interested in!

I gave up, again.

Then, towards the end of last year, I decided this fascination with and rejection of abstract art had gone on long enough. I was determined to dive deep into abstracts and figure it out once and for all – either I would get it, or I would be able to say I tried and it’s not for me, and just get this whole abstract business out of my system once and for all.

I decided to chuck the books, because they clearly weren’t helping me. Instead, I figured, I’d cheat like an artist.

I fired up Pinterest, and spent hours and hours devouring abstracts of all kinds, until finally, I started finding the styles that appealed to me.

Experimenting with abstracts to find my own unique abstract language
Experimenting with abstracts and color palettes.

And then it began – a study of artists and their techniques, an analysis of the abstract style I liked and why. And I made an interesting observation – my abstract language had a significant overlap with my intuitive painting language.

There were elements that are already present in my work that appealed to me – layers, drips, color fields…and elements that I had to learn, and find my own style and language with.

That led to pages and pages of mark making, obscured writing, experiments with tools and textures and paints.

Until I started to find, and constantly refine my style. Until it became second nature – and uniquely mine.

Constantly pushing and experimenting, growing and evolving. 

Small abstract painting - portal
Creating teeny-tiny abstracts to refine my abstract language.

So what’s my brand of abstracts, you ask?

I call them soul-fueled abstracts.

Intuitive – for the most part. Marks that delight my soul. Colors that make my heart sing. Textures that delight my eye. Paint in flow and motion.

I call them heart songs.

Exploratory – deeply considered and conceptualized. Worked around a quote, a poem fragment, a story seed. These paintings may take a day or a few, but they take as long as they take to be conceptualized – days, weeks, months…years?

I call them painted prayers.

Words, marks, symbols, hopes, prayers, blessings, buried in the layers of paint. Scratched in, covered over, written in looping, barely legible script. Lost and found. Encoded.

Soul-fueled. Heart songs. Painted prayers. Abstracted, my way. 

Coming soon: my first, small collection of abstracts! Sign up for my newsletter to be notified when the collection is live!

Posted in On My Art Table.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. I, too, find abstracts quite difficult to understand. I am not into painting, as yet. Using water colours or even acrylics is still not on the horizon. But, I am so glad you stuck to it and now have found your style in abstracts! <3

  2. I love your abstarcts – soul filled and intuitive yes. Painted prayers and heart songs! Wow!

    I love how you keep delving deeper into your art and carrying us along with you, Shinj. More power to you.

    Thank you for this artfully done post for #WW.

    Much love. <3

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