• malcolm jarvis

Starting is no longer the hardest part!

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

Too many outside influences have kept me out of the studio over the last few weeks. There were a number of health reasons that I won’t bore you with that kept me away from the easel. Then there were all the usual Christmas celebrations, catching up with family and friends, over indulging on food and drink – you know how it is.

If the holiday festivities or other influences have kept you away from your art and you aren’t quite sure how to get into the swing of painting or drawing again, take my recommendation and start with abstract painting.

Why Abstract Painting?

Trying to get back into your rhythm after a long break can feel awkward, trying to connect with your subject matter can prove difficult. You feel unconnected. The marks you make don’t quite work. With abstract painting, that’s fine. It can even be a bonus. Your marks may be varied and unexpected but that’s fine too. Start abstractly, get your rhythm, and take it anywhere!

5 Abstract Art Prompts to Jump Start Your Creativity

1. Connect 7, 9 or 11 dots. Literally dot your surface seven times and get started connecting them with pattern and texture, colour and any kind of mark that comes out of you.

2. Use your non-dominant hand to start. This way you know that you will get some unanticipated marks. You can always switch back once you feel like you’ve got some inspiration flowing.

3. Alter your surface. Crumple your paper. Smear your canvas with a wash. Flick paint at it. Put something unique down first and it might start you working in a different way

4. Use only one tool. That means one brush. And remember a brush has one traditional way of being used but several non-traditional ways of being used.

5. Close your eyes. Or blindfold yourself. If you are at home, no one will see you. You get to start fresh and see with your mind’s eye. Surprisingly enough it will likely set your hand free.

With acknowledgement to Dean Nimmer.




I'm Malcolm, a painter, tutor, lecturer and workshop instructor living in South Norfolk.

My years of painting experience have taught me to loosen-up, let go of fear and paint spontaneously.

My philosophy is ‘less is more’.

  • Fewer brushes for livelier, quicker painting.

  • Fewer paints for easy, straightforward colour mixing.

  • Fewer techniques for optimal results.​

But that doesn’t mean I ignore the basic fundamentals and principles upon which I believe all good painting should be based: shape, value, colour, edges and centre of interest.

​These foundations underpin all my work. If you want to paint portraits, abstracts, still life or landscapes, the same foundations apply; they will give you a solid basis for anything you choose to paint, regardless of subject or medium.

It is my intention to talk about these fundamentals in a straight-forward, no-nonsense, jargon-free way in this blog and to encourage you incorporate them into your work.

Thank you for visiting!

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