Friday, April 28, 2017

7 Ways to Abstract a Photo - Off the Wall Friday

Nina-Marie Sayre
Created by taking A few birdhouses   - Changing Scale,  #2
Have you ever wondered how someone abstracts a perfectly normal photo into something so amazingly wonderful that it puts the original to shame????

Yeah, me too!!!

So since, I've been on this journey of abstract art as of late, I thought I would brainstorm some ideas on how to abstract a photo.  Not all of these will work with every photo, but they definitely will get the ball rolling!

Nina-Marie Sayre

Nina-Marie Sayre
The Curves, Using #1
  1. Trace over main lines in the photo, then repeat those lines once or twice - varying the distance between the lines.  
  2. Chose an interesting part of the photo.  Crop it and Enlarge.  Use that part or Crop and Enlarge again.
  3. Take inspirational photo (or painting) - Crop interesting elements out of it  - changing the size of them at will.  Rearrange into a new composition.  (See my Edward Hopper inspired piece below)
    Nina-Marie Sayare
    Edward Hopper Inspired Collage #3
  4. Take a photo and turn it into grey scale.  Pixilate it into lovely blurriness to create a value study of the photo.  Create from there.  Here are my examples.
  5. Take a Photo - Cut it into squares - Rearrange the squares - trace out the main elements and
    Nina-Marie Sayre
    Photo manipulation on Photo Elements - #6
  6. Take Photo - put it into a Photo Editor - start playing with skewing it, erasing elements, rotating it - add layers - take away layers - then trace the most interesting part
  7. Trace out main shapes of the photo - Exaggerate the shapes - make them into any shape - organic or geometric
Nina-Marie Sayre
Created with #2 - Crop, Enlarge, Crop, Enlarge

Be Warned - Brainstorming abstract ideas is VERY addictive.  At some point, you'll have to stop and evaluate the ideas.  How do you do that?  Well the same way you do any other composition that you've done.  I  usually run it through my Good Keys to Composition Test first and then make sure the pieces is saying what I want it to say and evoking the mood I want it evoke!  If it passes all of that - THEN I start pulling fabric out.  With abstract pieces - its always good start with an unexpected palette.  For once let color start pulling its own weight!

So while I've been playing with photo manipulation. . . . .

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?


  1. Thanks for the wonderful and informative lesson!

  2. Great post- thank you! As one who is both photo based in my comfort zone and abstract challenged. I can relate to trying some 0f these ideas. I want to try the abstract thing, just don't know how to start and I think I could do something of your suggestions.

  3. LOVE those birdhouses!! Inspiring!


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