The One Thing in Abstract Art

The One Thing In Abstract Art | Nancy Hillis, M.D. | Scroll through to learn the one thing that makes all the difference in moving you closer and closer to your deepest expression in your art.

I had an ‘aha’ recently after talking with artists in our Artist’s Journey group. We’d been discussing painting for yourself, finding what you love, searching and finding your way, exploring and experimenting.

[Note: I have a video for you at the bottom of this post].

I saw that each artist was stretching and risking and wanting to take their work to the next level.

And I was thinking-

If I had to give them a piece of advice about the one thing in abstract art, the most important thing to access in order to accelerate your growth as an artist- what would it be?

My first thought was that it’s about trusting and believing in yourself as an artist and I do think this is crucial.

And I also thought about the importance of working on miles of canvas, of creating as often as possible (ideally every day) or at least developing a consistent studio practice….10,000 hours and all that


But then I realized that it boils down to experimentation.

It’s the willingness to step into the terra incognita- the unknown territory.

This is where discoveries happen. This is where the surprises are. This is where new work emerges.

Stepping into the unknown is how we evolve our art.

Trust & Experimentation

Experimentation is intimately related to trust. You’ve got to trust yourself enough to take risks, to not know what’s going to happen and to allow for the unfamiliar, even the so called “ugly paintings” to emerge.

Indeed, the “ugly paintings” are vital for your evolution as an artist. I believe that they are the nascent, embryonic forms trying to be born in your art.

Painting Consistently

We know that painting consistently makes a huge difference for artists.

As you create many painting starts, you begin to see that no one particular painting is precious. This gives you tremendous permission and freedom to explore and experiment.

What we’re talking about is the mindset of allowing yourself to step into the unknown, to search and find your way as you paint, and to deeply explore and experiment.

It’s in the state of experimentation that you’ll search (and this word is really important!) and find your way as you paint.

We can feel you searching and accessing a state of not knowing inherent to the search and this is exciting, alive and mysterious.

It’s unpredictable.

Experimentation sets the stage for surprise and it sets the stage for your deepest work.

One of my favorite things I’ve ever read is when artist Michael Cutlip said:

If I already know what’s going to happen, it’s all over.

That says it all for me and this is what my new book The Artist’s Journey is about- the inner journey of stepping into the unknown.

Big Surprise

In my last post, I showed you the book manuscript and invited you to join my book launch. I’m so excited that so many of you want to join me on the launch team.

I’ve got a big surprise in the video below.

With gratitude from my studio to yours,


P.S. Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Originally published at Nancy Hillis.