Expressive abstract painting tutorial

Join me in my art studio as I show you how to paint expressive abstracts in your art journal.

Expressive abstract painting tutorial

If you’ve been around here a hot minute, you’d know that I love abstraction. Figurative abstraction and abstracted whimsical portraits are my love languages. I’m slowly exploring pure abstraction, but that’s a much more complicated beast to tackle! During my research and experimentation with abstract, I came across expressive abstracts, and fell in love!

What are expressive abstracts?

Expressive abstracts are like a snapshot of a moment, a feeling, a memory, something you love — but instead of using anything recognisable, you use color and line and shape to convey how you experience a certain thing. And if you’re like me, you include a focal point at the end — an image or symbol or sketch of something that not just ties together the page, but adds to the story too.

Watch the process: Expressive abstract art journal tutorial

Come on over to my painty table as I take you through an expressive abstract in my art journal and share some more thoughts on expressive abstraction.

You can use these same techniques and ideas to paint an expressive abstract on any surface – canvas, wood, fabric, or paper!

If you’d like to tackle some more abstraction in your art, watch this tutorial where I demo how to paint an abstract, whimsical owl and this abstract figurative painting tutorial.

And here’s the finished painting. Don’t forget to pin this for later – inspiration at your fingertips!

Expressive abstract painting tutorial

Supply list

Your art journal — I’m using this one — or a piece of heavy-weight paper (mixed media paper or watercolor paper)

White gesso

Acrylic paints in your favourite colors. I used:

Pebeo paints: Fluorescent orange

Camel paints: Mauve, Brilliant yellow green, black

Derwent Intense pencils: Apple green, Sea blue

Black Derwent Coloursoft color pencil

Lyra Graphix water soluble pencil 6B

Princeton Catalyst mini blade no. 01

Paintbrushes in different sizes


Note: All of these links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you’re an India-based artist, I highly recommend ArtLounge — I get most of my art supplies from them, going to Amazon only for the few brands that they do not stock. Use the coupon code SHINJINIM at checkout to get a sweet discount.

More art journaling inspiration

If you’re looking for more inspiration, take a look at all of my free art tutorials or join me for one of art journaling e-courses.

Want to up your art journal game? Then join me for Book of Days 2022, a collaborative e-course that will take you on a deep dive into mixed media art journaling. In this year-long course, we will focus on all the ways that working with journal art can enrich and enhance our lives. The course is suitable for everyone from beginners to advanced artists, and will help you to create and maintain a practice of meeting yourself on the page.

pain palette

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Weekly notes from an artist’s studio, including pages from my mixed media art journal, works in progress, notes on the creative process, and other ideas that capture my interest, along with regular discussion threads to chat about art.

Posted in Art tutorials.

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?

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