Abstract Painting – Pencil Notes

Copyright, Niya Christine


For the past couple weeks I’ve been utterly obsessed with abstract painting. A new frontier. I didn’t know how exciting and absorbing it could be. I’ve always considered myself a figurative expressionist; animals and people mostly. An insect here and there. Landscapes with stories in them. The beginning generally has a shape. In abstract, it’s the opposite. You are painting the invisible until it becomes what it’s meant to be. The color shapes the energy and form. Line can go everywhere and nowhere. And yet it all comes back to something the ear settles into. Compared nicely with musical composition.

Copyright, Niya Christine

Windy Conversations

What I’m sharing here is simple drawings on card stock. The paintings got to be so maddening, I came back to smaller works. I also was very excited to try out my new Derwent water pencils. Aren’t they something? It’s the little things.

Niya Christine


Karine Swenson is a fabulous teacher. She got in there with each one of us and helped us tackle the obscure issues that come up when approaching a blank canvas with a few colors mixed and no idea what you are going to do. It’s not easy teaching a class of such depth online.

Niya Christine

Under Venice

I created a space in the garage to paint in oil and to paint large. It was pretty sweet. Blasting the blues and throwing some paint. I have 4 paintings in process. I don’t like any of them yet. I have found this is what happens first. It’s a big ol’ soupy mess of pent up energy. And then the center finds itself over time. Karine introduced us to many great painters. We’ve studied: Gerhard Richter, Jasper Johns, Amy Sillman, Richard Diebenkorn (my fav), Franz Kline and more.

Niya Christine

Almost Born

Some quotes I loved:

“I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important.” – Franz Kline

“Now, the idea is to get everything right – it’s not just color or form or space or line – it’s everything all at once.” – Richard Diebenkorn

“Painting is a physical thinking process to continue an interior dialogue, a way to engage in a kind of internal discourse or sub – linguistic mumbling.” – Amy Sillman

Niya Christine

Cactus Explosion

So that’s all. Have a wonderful week. I’ll be back with those large paintings soon-ish… as long as I don’t freak myself out with the primordial soup of abstraction.

Niya Christine

Morning Blobs

I am pretty excited about it, I must say. Ta ta!


What I see in my kitchen


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  • Tara March 31, 2014  

    Hi Niya – I’m so glad you posted a link to your blog in the classroom! LOVE these little abstracts; they are right up my street. 🙂 I agree it was a lovely course, and so much learned! Happy to have found you and your abundant creativity. 🙂

    • niya christine March 31, 2014  

      Tara – thank you. So great to have a classmate from the classroom (ha ha) comment. Thank you so much for stopping by. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

  • JJ Jacobs March 31, 2014  

    Beautiful, Niya!!

    • niya christine March 31, 2014  

      Thank you JJ – that means a lot coming from you!

  • Lisha March 31, 2014  

    These are all fun, light and wonderful.

    • niya christine March 31, 2014  

      Lisha — I needed fun, light and wonderful after some agonizing hours painting large. These sketches set me free again. Thank you for your keen observations!

  • Melinda Jones March 31, 2014  

    LOVE IT!!!! Love it all! So wonderful to get to see and read about your process. I feel seen and heard just seeing and reading your stuff! Merci

    A word or two from our birthday boy, Vincent Van Gogh,
    “Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas stating at you with a certain imbecility. You do not know how paralyzing it is, that staring of a blank canvas which says to the painter: you do not know anything”

    But we jus dash something down on that blank canvas now don’t we!

    • niya christine April 1, 2014  

      Thank you Melinda!
      I love blank canvas’s – I like to have a lot of them around. Love Vincent too. And so generous of you of comment here!!! Your work is so beautiful.

  • WM Rine April 3, 2014  

    I hadn’t had a chance to look at these until today. You’ve got some mojo going on. You’re so good with color, it really animates these and pulls in the eye. I especially love the “Under Venice” picture, although there are things to admire and stop on in all of them. “Windy Conversation” is fun … the billowing figures, and the black-and-white structure that is going on behind that isn’t so structured when you look at it closely.

    I’m sure this gets frustrating because it’s all a new way of approaching the white space on the paper but keep it up. You’re clearly going to go good places when you give up your figures from time to time.

    • niya christine May 11, 2014  

      Thank you Will.
      I’ve learned so much from the abstract explorations. Life is so much richer when we are stretched out of our comfort zone. Thank you for your close attention and insight. Always so creative.