Using Line in Abstract Painting

Example of using line in abstract painting

How do you find your personal vocabulary in line making? 

This exercise is from the first week of Directions in Abstraction where the group begins with an exploration of how to using line in abstract painting.

There are some questions below the exercise for you to think about in this exploration, but first, begin with the task. Immediately below is the teach from Instagram where I demonstrate this exercise and if you haven’t already seen it you might find it useful to watch it first.

For the exercise you will need some cheap drawing paper, or a sketchbook and if you wish some larger pieces of paper for part two. You also need a selection of tools and materials for drawing lines. For example, paint, ink, charcoal, types of dry, oil and water soluble pastels along with brushes of various sizes, drawing implements, like pens, but also sticks, feathers, forks etc.

How Many Lines?

Using as many different ways as you can draw lines on a pieces of cheap drawing paper or in your sketchbook. You can use paint, pen, charcoal, scratch into paint, make use of objects for drawing. Vary your materials and your tools to see what different effects you can create. Use water on water soluble materials and see what that looks like. Smudge, scratch and blur. Press hard into the surface, press lightly. See how many different ways of drawing a line you can come up with. Use your dominant and non dominant hand. Draw straight lines, curvy lines, scribble. Allow yourself free reign with this exercise. When you have finished on the smaller sheets take it to some very large paper, if you have space pin the paper on the wall so that you can make larger more expansive gestures and see how that feels.

Then sit yourself down in a comfortable spot, maybe get a warm drink and work through the questions below.

What are the qualities of your lines? Are they clear and strong or more fluid and soft? Do they become broken at any point? How do they start and finish?

How do they travel across the surface? Is there a point at which they become shapes?

What movement of hand and/or arm feels natural to you?

What are your most used tools and materials?

What do you know about your line making now?

How did you get on? Any questions thoughts or comments?

Live Art Chat: What happened in 2022

Welcome to this new episode of Live Art Chat: What happened in 2022.

Lin and Sally-Ann review their year as artists and art teachers. They chat about how their work has developed over the twelve months and the themes that have been important. They also talk about some of the teaching and coaching projects completed. Lin also launched a new book Creative Connections A 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge from her sketchbook challenge in July, and she talks about the inspiration behind this. They also look forward to 2023 anticipating another busy year for both of them with online courses coming up in the Spring.

Find out more about Directions in Abstraction or Mindset Transitions

See Lin’s new book Creative Connections: A 30 day Sketchbook Challenge.

Click for Sally Ann Ashley’s website.

How to feed your creativity.

How to feed your creativity? Where and how does a sketchbook practice fit in with this? I have noticed over the years that artists often speak about sketchbook practice as a thing in and of itself. And I find myself wondering and being curious about what they mean when they speak of having a sketchbookContinue reading "How to feed your creativity."
To access this post, you must purchase Art Fluency Group or Art Fluency Discussion Group.

Personality Styles for Artists

Personality Styles for artists: why knowing yours can help you grow in confidence and be more effective as an artist.

This live teach on Instagram is for Mindset Transitions my 10 week online annual personal development and group coaching programme for artists. Mindset Transitions runs in September each year.

Does this ring true for you? Your comments and feedback are welcome.

How to be your own best advocate for your Art

photo of a woman holding an ipad
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Take a moment to consider this question:

Who do you think of as one of the best advocates for your art?

How many people said ME?

Here’s the original Live on Instagram

I want to look at understanding more about how to support our self-esteem and confidence as artists and I’m going to begin with some ideas about motivation from Transactional Analysis called Hungers. There are at least six hungers and I am going to look at two of them:

Recognition and Stimulus.

We could also think of Hungers like we might an instinctive drive. Something that is part of all of us and hard-wired into us. Different people may experience their Hungers to different degrees, but they are present for us all.

So, what is Recognition-hunger?  We can think of it as the need to be recognised and acknowledged by others.  Our feelings of belonging and self-esteem are fed by the satisfaction of this hunger. So as artists having self-supporting ways of meeting our hunger for recognition can really help our self-esteem, belief in ourselves and confidence.

Stimulus-hunger is as it sounds, the need for mental and physical stimulation, variety, challenge and touch.  If this hunger is not being fed, then we can feel numb, bored or unhappy.

Staying with transactional analysis terms, strokes are ways that we satisfy the two Hungers recognition and stimulus. A “stroke” is described as a “unit of recognition”

There are lots of ways that we can go about meeting our Hungers by seeking out strokes. These will be based on our upbringing and our beliefs about ourselves and what has worked in the past. Thinking about what has worked in the past is an important element in looking at our own patterns of seeking or giving strokes. Generally, as we grow up, we will test out what kinds of behaviour get us lots of strokes. When something we do results in lots of recognition (even if it is negative) we are likely to do it again. Any strokes, even if they are negative are better than none.

Here are some ways to divide up the types of strokes we might look for.

Strokes can be in the form of words, or they can be non-verbal behaviours like hugs, frowns or smiles. They can be positive or negative and they can be based on us doing or achieving something or offered freely without conditions attached where we don’t need to do anything we can “be.”

Some myths about strokes!

You might like to see if you believe some of these myths.

  • Don’t just give away strokes.
  • Don’t ask for strokes – even if you need them.
  • Don’t accept strokes – make sure you are humble and reject them.
  • Don’t reject strokes even if you don’t want them.
  • Don’t give strokes to yourself – self-praise is no recommendation.

Your Stroking Profile

Below is a short exercise to look at some aspects of how you might be giving and receiving strokes. There are some questions afterwards for you to use in your sketchbook or journal to reflect.

In completing the table work rapidly and intuitively, your early and immediate response is most likely to be accurate. Once you have filled in the table you might like to see if there is anything you would like to change. 

Completing the Table

To complete your stroking profile, identify where you are for each column, either colour in the table to the appropriate level or put a tick or cross at the appropriate level.  For example, if you always give positive strokes to others then colour or mark the column to the top.

 How often do you give + strokes to yourself?How often do you give + strokes to others?How often do you accept + strokes?How often do you give – strokes to yourself?How often do you give – strokes to others?How often do you take – strokes?
Very frequently      

Are there ways you would like to change your stroking profile?  If so the way to proceed is to increase the bars you want more of. If you do want to change your stroking profile note down at least three things you could do to work towards this.  Plan and carry out these behaviours in the coming week. For instance, if you decide you want to give more positive strokes to yourself you might decide that for each new creative thing you do this week you say something positive to yourself about it. Or if it is giving strokes to others, note down one compliment you could genuinely give to each of your friends. 


How did you experience this exercise?  Was there new information revealed?

What have you learnt about how your patterns of stroking might impact you as an artist?

you can download the PDF below and complete the table and questions at your leisure.

Creative Connections: a sketchbook challenge for July


Will you be joining me for my summer sketchbook challenge in July?

The last three months have been super busy and I’ve had little time to get to my studio. When this happens I become disconnected from my creativity and my art, so when space opens up, I look for something to help me reconnect and re-energize. After running my international online course Directions in Abstraction, preparing to launch my new membership group for my course alumni, AND having two biggish exhibitions I’ve been focused in other areas. From previous times when this has happened, I know that a consistent effort with my “sketchbook” (or loose sheets of paper) helps me find my creativity and regular art practice. So I need to re-establish a Creative Connection to my art practice.

I’m keeping this sketchbook challenge very simple. You can join in on a daily basis if you would like, or do as much or as little as feels right. And if that means a once-a-week post well that’s fine too! I will be providing daily ideas and prompts for sketchbook play posting my own work on Instagram using #sketchbookcreativity. I’ll post my idea for the day early in the morning along with the previous day’s work so that you can join in if you wish. There are no sign-ups involved, just check out my daily Instagram feed during July and catch all the content there. You can find me on Instagram @linc_art

A few years ago I did the 100 Day Project and then after that a Monochrome Challenge during August both challenges were so useful to my art practice. I would love it if you want to join me. I have no doubt that along the way, we will probably learn something new and certainly have some fun.

Why is Mindset Important to Artists?

So, why am I running a course that is about mindset for artists? Why is our mindset important?

I think that once we have some good art skills under our belts, for example we have a some knowledge of how to use colour, value and materials, well what comes next? It is at this point that artists start to want to find their own unique form of expression.

Let’s start first with a small experiment. In the last week how often have you stopped yourself from saying something to someone for whatever reason? How often do we censor ourselves in groups? Or not say something because of a thought about the other person might react? If this is the case in general conversation how might this play out in our art making? How might we be holding ourselves back in our expression because of what other’s may think? And what are the ways we might be similarly influenced in our art making? Because humans don’t emerge into a vacuum. We are relational beings and other peoples’ views are important to us. There are lots of areas in life where this is useful and important. In our relationships it’s probably good to take into account and be influenced by what partners, families and friends want, think and feel.

But how much do we want to be influenced by others in our art making?

Isn’t making authentic work about the inner freedom to allow ourselves to create without fear of judgement or criticism, our own as much as any one else?

Which brings me to Mindset Transitions, my new online personal development course for artists.

Mindset Transitions is a live taught course in a small group of no more than 10 people.

The format of the course is a weekly teaching session during which I will present an idea, or piece of teaching along with an experiential exercise for the group to explore. There will then be time in the group for reflection and processing of the exercise. With this type of programme much of the learning comes from the interaction between group members as we explore and learn together.

This course is 10 weeks of structured personal development looking at a number of important areas in art making and artist mindset. Areas where better understanding can result in more creative freedom and shifts in artistic process. Such areas as our attitude to learning. How to deepen our reflective processes. Our patterns of resistance and procrastination. How and why we might criticise ourselves. How free we feel in the area of self expression. Our patterns of attachment and freedom in our work. Understanding more about our personality style and how we can harness our strengths and support our learning edges.

The course runs from the 13th of September 2022 for 10 weeks.

Have questions or want to know more? You can message me using the form below or you can sign up to the early bird list using the button below.

LIVE ART CHAT May 2022 Loving New Directions

Welcome to a new episode of LIVE ART CHAT. In this episode Lin and Sally-Anne chat about new work and new directions and the challenges this can bring when the work is ahead of our understanding of what it is about or even where it is heading. They take us through some recent paintings and look at processes, materials and inspiration.

Colour Mixing Taster

Colour Harmony

In this short live demonstration I am giving you an example of the kind of exercises, teaching and materials you can expect from my international online abstract art course Directions in Abstraction.

In this short colour mixing exercise you will be able to begin to explore some of the following questions:

How do you find your preferences and palette in how you use colour?

Are you drawn to strong and unsaturated colour or more muted and unsaturated hues?

Are there particular colours you keep repeating in your work?

What range of colours do you notice in your work?

From the exercise in the video you will see how to use colour to create more harmony in your work and so use colour expressively.

Exploring Colour Harmony

This is an exercise to explore creating colour harmony. For this exercise choose three colours. I suggest that you do not use the three primaries yellow red and blue but a different combination. An example might be cadmium red, sap green and cerulean, or vermillion, yellow ochre and cobalt blue.

The process is a simple one and begins with mixing a harmony colour from the three colours. You will then go on to create a wide spectrum of new hues using this fourth colour mixed in different amounts with your original three colours resulting in an exciting range of colours which harmonise.

Put a generous amount of each of the three colours on your palette. Roughly about a good tablespoonful of each. Then take an equal amount of each (about a teaspoon of each this time) and mix these together on your palette to create a fourth “harmony” colour.

You can use your sketchbook for this exercise or a large (A3 or bigger) piece of paper.  Now divide your page horizontally into 5 segments. You are going to paint a series of small squares of colour, moving horizontally across the page using incremental amounts of each of your starter colours mixed with increasing amounts of your harmony colour.

Begin with one of your original colours. Paint a small square on the left-hand side of the page using fully saturated colour straight from the tube. Next, mix a small amount of the harmony colour in with this original colour. About 10% mix is a good place to start. Paint another square next to the first one. Take a moment to look at how the colour has changed with this small addition. Continue to add incremental amounts of the “harmony colour” to this mix, painting a square each time. Stop after each square and notice the differences.

Experiment with adding this harmony mix to your other two original colours in small incremental amounts. Create another grid of small squares as you are doing this. With this exercise, it can be useful to keep notes of what each row is and the proportions of paint added. Notice the way the colours interact up and down your verticals and across the horizontals. Are there any particular hues that really catch your eye? Make a note of the ones that you really like and also the ones you do not.

Other variations on this exercise are to repeat the process above with each colour plus the harmony colour, then to add separately a row using white, black and then grey.  The variations are many!

Sketchbook Practice

Play in your sketchbook with more colour.  You might like to repeat this colour exercise with a range of different colours.  Maybe choose some colours that you habitually find in your work.

If you use Pinterest you might like to begin some boards about colour.  See what kinds of hues really speak to you in other artists’ work.

You might like to collect items with colours you like, or photographs of colours that appeal to you.

Reflections and Mindset Work

What did you find interesting or exciting from the colour mixing exercises?

What have you learnt from this exercise about the qualities that are important to you in your use of colour? See if you can come up with lists of words that express this for you.

How easy or difficult did you find the exercise?  What were you telling yourself as you were completing it?

Look at some of your existing work. What do you notice about how you have been using colour? 

Are there colour combinations that you repeat? Are there colours that you don’t use? What do you find yourself strongly drawn to?

You can download this exercise as a PDF below.

If you enjoyed this exercise and want more then please do take a look at my international online abstract art course Directions in Abstraction.

LIVE ART CHAT August 2021 Inspiration & Intention

This is the fifth episode of Live Art Chat and I hope you are enjoying this venture.

This month is with Lin again from Buxton talking inspiration and intention. Lin has recently been inspired by a the colours in a vase of flowers that were used as decoration at her Open Studio. This led on to her exploring these colours in some recent small works. Lin and Sally-Anne talk about how important following your creative impulses and ideas can be. The demonstration is about working over previous paintings and bringing in the new themes.

As we approach the half year point Lin and Sally-Anne are interested in your feedback and response to LIVE ART CHAT. If you have a comment for us please use the form below to let us know your thoughts.

What is 7+4?