Abstract Expressionism in Watercolor

I’ve never been one for abstract painting. While I love looking at it and often marvel over how artists create such works, my mind always went blank when I looked at a canvas or sheet of paper and tried to “express myself” with paints and colors. Other than an abstract I called “Demon Green” which resulted from my frustrations in mixing greens a few years ago, I had never created any sort of abstract work that I actually liked. Nothing abstract I’ve painted has ever been a true reflection of my thoughts and feelings, again, “Demon Green” being an exception.

This is changing now. With watercolors, I’m finding that I can quickly and easily see ideas and inspirations forming as I play with various colors on a page. While I fully intend to do more realistic paintings again, at the moment I’m loving abstract expressionism in watercolor. I can’t wait to get to my studio each morning, do a bit of warm-ups, and then dive headlong into colors, emotions, and flowing paints.

Here is one favorite from among my recent paintings:

World View (3)
World View – Abstract Art by Judith Kraus

I’m calling this “World View” because it reminds me so much of a worn, old map, and I can almost make out the shape of the North American continent. I want to frame this one. With a brown mat I think it would look stunning. It came about because I wanted to try playing with black. Although I worried that adding black might spoil the image, I was very happy with how this turned out.

On a much brighter note, I created Pansies, a playful, colorful painting based on memories of a favorite flower. It’s not quite finished, really. You’ll see it again later.

Pansies (3)

Doing this one was also a bit worrisome — adding that bright orange was a definite concern. I had used several of my favorite colors. What would happen if I dared throw in a bit of orange? I was afraid I’d hate it, but I did it anyway. I was surprised at the new dimensions the color added to the painting. Later I added a bit more. As I said, you’ll be seeing this painting again.

Here are a few more from my quickly-growing collection.

Purple Clouds

Purple Clouds (3)

I love violets, and I’m presently working on an oil painting with violet clouds. So, why not create a violet sky in watercolor?

Red Bonsai

Red Colors (2)

This reminded me so much of a bonsai tree! I love the very delicate pinks at the lower right edge. It’s so soft-looking there. It’s almost magical to me.


Spring (2)

From the moment I painted this, I saw lilies. To me, this painting is about spring, about renewal, about resurrection. I do wish you could see it as it actually is and not view it only as a dull photograph.

Of course, not every adventurous abstract works out. I’ve had a few that have left me unmoved, and herein lies the lesson of abstract painting, I think. In the past, I’ve probably approached abstract expressionism from the wrong direction. I’ve thought first of what I might have to say and I’ve then tried to create that in paint. It doesn’t work. It’s better for me to let the painting begin creating itself, let it begin to stir my thoughts and emotions. I can then gently guide the paint to express those thoughts and feelings.

In this way, abstract expressionist painting has become a true adventure. I come down to my studio each morning with a sense of wonder and anticipation. Where will my watercolors take me today? I have no idea, but I’ll know the place when I get there because it will be a place that speaks to me and through me. It will be a place I know in my heart.









    1. I’m fortunate to be able to spend the entire day in my art studio now. Having the studio is inspiring in itself. It’s so nice to be able to come here any time and find all my art supplies ready and waiting!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Lovely paintings , Judith , especially the bonsai one . I can relate so much to your comment ” let the painting begin creating itself ” and ” gently guide ” . This is just what I am doing , only with acrylic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you’re a brave soul to work with acrylics! LOL I tried. I just couldn’t handle acrylics at all. I am definitely enjoying watercolor as an abstract art form. I can’t control it, but I can certainly have fun playing with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ” I’ve thought first of what I might have to say and I’ve then tried to create that in paint. It doesn’t work. It’s better for me to let the painting begin creating itself, let it begin to stir my thoughts and emotions.” If you can’t get this tattooed on the back of your hand, at least print it out and tack it up somewhere you will see it while you’re painting. 😁 You have found one of the key elements to success.

    Liked by 1 person

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