Intro to Abstract Painting

Self-Study Class Includes Lifetime Access, Online Community & More!

6 Lessons – $49

Explore a variety of mark-making techniques with an emphasis on finding what works for you as an artist. In this six-lesson class, Karine Swenson demonstrates drawing and painting intuitively and talks about some of her favorite abstract painters aimed at helping you understand some of the concepts behind non-representational painting.

Price Reduced! Now available as a self-study class.

TEACHER: Karine Swenson

Class Description

Have you have ever had an interest in abstract painting? Would you like to paint with more freedom or feeling?

In this class we will explore a variety of mark-making techniques with an emphasis on finding what works for you as an artist. I will demonstrate drawing and painting intuitively, and share a few of my favorite abstract painters to help you understand some of the concepts behind non-representational painting (painting without recognizable imagery).

I will encourage you to try new things as a way to experience breakthroughs and encourage you to work quickly. You will be finding ways to develop your own way of applying paint and to compose the visual space.

During this class, you will work on many (up to twenty) small sketches and 3-4 paintings.

Who is this class intended for:

  • Anyone who wants to explore non-representational painting
  • Anyone who wants to strengthen and develop their own voice as a painter
  • Anyone interested in taking risks with their painting
  • Anyone who wants to have more confidence in their own way of painting

Note: It is recommended that you have some painting experience in acrylic or oil paint before taking this class; I will not be showing you how to mix paint or choose colors. The focus will be primarily composition, values, mark making, and a search for individuality.

Class Itinerary

Lesson 1 – We will begin with small studies to explore drawing intuitively

Lesson 2 – Today we will draw from our other senses (not sight) to help us escape the need to use recognizable imagery and to help us tap into our emotions.

Lesson 3 – Take the favorite sketch from our previous two lessons and turn them into an abstract painting.

Lesson 4 – Approaching a blank canvas with no sketch. (How to work intuitively.)

Lesson 5 – Explore how trying new things can take you in another direction. Do you normally work small? Try working large. Push yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Lesson 6 – Choose one of your paintings from the last two weeks and “wreck it” to save it.








  • BFK Rives paper, 1 sheet of 22 x 30 inch, torn into smaller pieces, approximately 5 x 5 inches, or a sketchbook (I like Canson Mixed Media books)
  • Drawing tools: Char-Koal, charcoal pencils (2B, 3b), or conte crayons.
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Pencil. 2B or darker
  • Three painting surfaces 11 x 14 or larger. Use what you normally like to use: board, canvas, etc. Also, be sure the format of your painting surface is the same as your sketchbook or blank paper (square or rectangular). If you normally work small, get at least one large 30 x 30 inch or larger canvas. If you normally work on a rectangular surface, get at least one square surface, with square paper to match.
  • Paint, either acrylic or oil. I will be working in oil paint. Colors recommended: burnt umber, yellow ochre, titanium white, cobalt blue, black, red, cerulean blue, etc. Brands of oil paint I prefer: M. Graham, Utrecht, Georgian, Gamblin… If you are using oil paint, I use turpenoid oderless mineral spirits to thin, when needed.
  • Brushes, rags, painting knife, brayer or other painting tools
  • Get at least three different brushes. Flat, round, bright size 6 or larger and one large inexpensive brush from the hardware store. (3 inches or larger)
  • One small watercolor set (gouache is okay, too)

Karine_PortraitKarine Swenson

Karine Swenson grew up just outside of a town called Rapid City, South Dakota in the Black Hills. The closest neighbor was a mile away. Reared in this environment, Swenson’s connection with the natural world was strong. After receiving her BA in painting from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, she moved to Colorado. She has spent most of her life in small towns that sit right next to the last remaining bits of wilderness. From the mountains of Colorado, the ocean surrounding Maui, Hawaii, the desert near Joshua Tree, California, and now the high desert outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Karine feels the most at home out in nature. In the studio, her second home, she can explore her relationship with the natural world. Her oil paintings are reflections of this relationship. Swenson has been a full-time artist for the past ten years.To watch a short video introducing Karine, click HERE. See more wonderful art at Karine’s website:

Nuts & Bolts

  • This class is now available as a self-study class.
  • Immediately upon class signup, you will receive access to the class videos and corresponding materials.
  • A private Facebook group will be available for you to (optionally) share your artwork and enjoy and learn from the artwork of others. You may also email your teacher directly with questions or feedback.
  • You will have indefinite access to this class.
“So much fun. You actually got me working big.” — Nancy L.
“I’m finding your classes brilliant, and the exercises very challenging!” — Mara G.
“I ended up loving the rebellious spirit of diving in without a sketch. Scary, but loving it! Thank you again, you’re such a delight!” — Michelle H.