RampArts - Community Art Group

Recipe 9: An abstract subject of your choice

The aim of this exercise is to:

  • fuse line to create movement in your picture
  • use colour and shading to move the eye around the picture
  • use all the picture space effective
  • use oil pastels effectively




  • oil pastels
  • cream pastel paper
  • chalk


Using the chalk, draw lines across the paper horizontally and vertically. You may think that this appear to be a rather pointless exercise initially! However, ther are endless variations on atheme and you will begin to see, as you progress, how the lines create different effects:

  • lines close together make you look into the picture
  • wavy lines create movement, straight ones strong delineation

Try to be as inventive as you can, thinking carefully about the composition and balance of the picture. Colour the picture using the oil pastels. Fill in the spaces between the lines with colour. To create strong bright effects press on them really hard. You can put one shade on top of another. One way to create movement is to start with a dark colour, say dark blue, then fill in the next shape with a slightly lighter verion of the same colour until you have reached light blue. The eye will naturally follow the gradation. Choose a title for your picture, most of the group chose landscape.


Look at your picture from a distance. Compare the group pictures. There is such an amount of variety - in shape and colour. Many of the pictures were framed and hung. What are your feelings about abstract paintings now? Having attemptd a number of them yourselves do you begin to better appreciate non-representational works? Why not arrange a visit to the Tate Modern and have a discussion afterwards - preferably over lunch!


A little more about the elements that go to forma picture. So far we have thought about Composition, Line, Light and Shade, Texture, Shape and Three-dimensional Space. All of these elements are key in creating an effective picture whether it is representational or abstract or somewhere inbetween.

To the above we add your individuality and skill. Being good at drawing is a wonderful skill but you can balso be a skilful colourist or a brilliant designer etc. I hope you have framed someof your work to prove you do not need a pencil to be a good artist!