Art techniques: Abstract art color study - winter sunset

Art Creativity Design

'How to make an abstract art color study and my first color study of the year'

Abstract art, with its freedom from the constraints of reality, is one of my favorite forms for self expression when making art. One of the most alluring aspects of creating abstract art is its exploration of color. It’s amazing how much sentiment can be expressed through color, without having to say a single word.

Below is loosely my process for how I delve into this type of abstract color study.

Exploring the subject and colors you’re trying to portray

My first color study of the year - winter sunset. I love making art utilizing the colors of the season. It’s a simple connective way to process the time of year and pay attention to what’s going on around me. 

This color story is referencing January in the mountains. My family went to visit my grandmother’s mountain home in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina in the beginning of January. The sunset through the Smoky Mountains is so pretty this time of year. The landscape is somewhat bare, but the colors in the sky at sunset are still there, so muted and cool and calm and quiet.  What a beautiful serene way to enter the new year. 

Using your own personal references and finding inspiration online

My daughter was so enamored with the sunset she wanted to snap a photo herself. When I was back home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the colors I saw there and those sweet, calm, serene feelings they brought forth. I wanted to do a simple color study abstract using organic shapes to represent that feeling. 

View from my grandmother's mountain home

Along with my memories and photos, I searched online to get an idea of other images that touched on that feeling I was trying to portray. 

image 1, image 2, image 3, image 4

Considering color and placement

I knew I wanted to feature those soft pastel pinks and purples of the sky with some grounding colors in gray, blue and green to represent the earth and nature below. I tend to sketch out a rough idea of placement before refining the shapes and honing in on color placement. I knew I wanted to take this organic shapes approach, but you could do any shapes or swatches or patterns you'd like. Really it’s all about taking the colors you're drawn to, what's resonating with you, and processing them in a visually pleasant way.

Some of my other color studies using this abstract art approach

Abstract color studies wall art by Pauline Stanley for Rare Bird Co.

Doing abstract art color studies such as these are a great low stakes way to jump into making art and expressing oneself. It’s something I turn to again and again. The medium doesn’t matter, I like to paint with watercolors, gouache or acrylics or draw digitally on my ipad. As long as you have access to color, that’s all that matters. 

I simply use whatever colors are on my mind or are resonating with me at the moment. If you’re a color lover like myself, I highly recommend it, it’s really a joy to do.



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