Mastering Abstract Art: Achieving Balance & Harmony
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. What is abstract art?
  2. Balance in abstract art
  3. How to achieve balance
  4. Harmony in abstract art
  5. How to achieve harmony
  6. How to use color and texture
  7. How to use contrast and scale
  8. How to use space and depth
  9. How to use line and form
  10. How to put it all together

Have you ever stared at a piece of abstract art, intrigued by its depth, complexity, and seemingly random patterns? Drawing you in, it's a dance of colors, lines, textures, and forms, all swirling together in an abstract art composition. If you've ever felt the urge to take a brush in hand and join this dance, this guide is for you. Together, we'll explore the fascinating world of abstract art, unraveling the mysteries of balance and harmony that lie at its heart.

What is abstract art?

Abstract art is a style of art that doesn’t aim to represent an accurate depiction of visual reality. Instead, it uses shapes, colors, forms, and gestural marks to achieve its effect. Think of it as a visual language that breaks away from the traditional rules of art. Some may see it as chaotic or random, but in reality, a well-composed abstract art piece is carefully planned and structured. It's like a puzzle, where each piece—each stroke, each color—fits into the overall abstract art composition.

To understand abstract art, let's imagine you're baking a cake. The ingredients are your artistic elements: color, texture, line, form, space, and depth. Now, baking isn't just about throwing all the ingredients together. You need to mix them in a specific order, at specific amounts, to create a delightful treat. Similarly, in abstract art, you have to carefully blend these elements to create a balanced and harmonious composition.

Abstract art composition is the way these elements interact with each other. When done right, this interaction creates a sense of balance and harmony, which draws the viewers in, keeping their eyes moving around the artwork. This interaction is what makes abstract art so intriguing and captivating. It's the secret recipe to the cake that is your masterpiece.

Now, you may wonder, "how do I achieve this balance and harmony in my abstract art composition?" Well, it's a lot simpler than you think, and we're here to guide you through it. So, let's dive into the realm of balance in abstract art.

Balance in abstract art

Balance in abstract art is a bit like finding the perfect place to stand on a seesaw — it's all about equilibrium. It's the sense that all the visual elements in your artwork hold equal weight, creating a pleasing and stable abstract art composition.

Imagine you're hanging a set of scales. On one side, you place a heavy weight, and on the other, a light one. What happens? The heavy side drops down, and the balance is lost. The same principle applies to abstract art. If one part of your artwork is visually heavy (with bold colors or large shapes), and the other part is visually light (with soft colors or small forms), your composition will be off-balance—just like the scales.

But don't worry, achieving balance isn't about making everything symmetrical or identical. It's about creating visual equilibrium. For instance, you can balance a large, bold shape by placing several smaller, subtler forms on the opposite side. Or, you can balance a vibrant, intense color with a large area of softer, muted shades.

This balancing act is a fundamental part of creating a captivating abstract art composition. It keeps your viewers' eyes moving around your piece, engaged and interested. So, how do you achieve this balance? Let's find out.

How to achieve balance

Achieving balance in your abstract art composition is sort of like cooking your favorite dish. You don't want too much of one ingredient overpowering the others, right? Similarly, in abstract art, balance comes from considering the visual weight of each element.

Visual weight? Yes, you heard it right. Every element in your artwork — from shapes, lines, and colors to textures, patterns, and spaces — carries a certain 'weight'. Large, dark, complex, or high contrast elements feel 'heavy', while small, light, simple, or low contrast elements feel 'light'.

Here's the fun part. You, as the artist, get to play the chef! You decide how to distribute these 'heavy' and 'light' elements across your artwork to create balance. Here are some tips to help you out:

  1. Use Symmetry: Just like a butterfly's wings, you can create balance by mirroring elements on either side of your composition. This is known as symmetrical balance.
  2. Balance with Asymmetry: Asymmetrical balance, on the other hand, is when different elements on either side of your composition hold equal visual weight. Imagine balancing a seesaw with a basketball on one side and a bunch of tennis balls on the other!
  3. Radial Balance: Ever admired the balance in a sunflower's pattern or a pizza pie? That's radial balance — elements radiating out from a central point.
  4. Play with Colors: Bold, intense colors carry more visual weight than soft, muted ones. You can use this to your advantage to balance your composition.
  5. Experiment with Size and Shape: Larger shapes feel heavier than smaller ones. Similarly, complex shapes can feel heavier than simpler ones. Mix and match to find the balance that works for you.

Remember, balance in an abstract art composition doesn't always mean equal or the same. It's about creating a sense of stability and harmony. So don't be afraid to experiment and find what balance means for your unique artistic expression. After all, you're the chef here!

Harmony in abstract art

Let's talk harmony. No, not the kind you find in a choir or band, even though that's a great analogy! We're talking about harmony in abstract art composition. Harmony is what gives your artwork a sense of unity and ties all the different elements together, like a beautiful symphony. If balance is about the visual weight of your elements, harmony is about how they all relate to each other.

Imagine you're organizing a party. You want everything to work together, right? The food, music, decorations—everything should complement each other to create a harmonious experience. That's exactly what we're aiming for in an abstract art composition.

So, how do you create harmony? Here are a few ways:

  1. Use Similar Elements: Repeating similar shapes, colors, or lines throughout your artwork can create a sense of harmony. It's like using a theme for your party!
  2. Color Harmony: Artists often use color schemes to create harmony. Complementary, analogous, monochromatic—the options are limitless. It's like choosing a color palette for your party decorations.
  3. Proximity: Placing elements close together can create a sense of unity. They're like the best friends at your party, always sticking together!
  4. Continuation: Guiding the viewer's eye through your artwork using lines or paths can create harmony. It's like the party game that leads you from one spot to another.
  5. Gradation: Gradually changing one or more elements—like size, color, or shape—can create harmony. It's like gradually turning up the music as the party gets going!

Harmony in abstract art composition is like the magic glue that holds everything together. It's what makes your artwork feel complete and satisfying. So, go ahead, play around with these techniques and create your own harmonious masterpiece!

How to achieve harmony

Now that we've covered what harmony is in abstract art composition, let's roll up our sleeves and put that knowledge into action. Remember, achieving harmony is like planning a harmonious party, and you're the party planner!

  1. Start with a Theme: Just as you would start planning a party with a theme, start your artwork with a visual theme. This could be a certain shape, color, or line that you repeat throughout your artwork.
  2. Choose Your Colors Wisely: Colors have a huge impact on the overall feel of your artwork. Choose a color scheme that works well together and stick to it. This isn't just about picking your favorite colors—it's about picking colors that harmonize.
  3. Group Your Elements: Grouping similar elements together can create a sense of unity and harmony. Think of it as gathering your party guests into different activities or conversation groups.
  4. Create a Flow: Use lines, shapes, or colors to guide the viewer's eye through your artwork. This is like setting up a route for your party guests to follow.
  5. Experiment with Gradation: Gradually changing elements can add a sense of harmony. Try making a shape gradually larger, or a color gradually lighter or darker. This is like slowly turning up the music at your party!

The key to achieving harmony in your abstract art composition is trial and error. Don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. And remember to have fun along the way—after all, you're throwing a party on your canvas!

How to use color and texture

Color and texture are like the spices in a dish—they can completely transform your abstract art composition. Let's explore how you can add some extra flavor to your artwork with these two elements.

  1. Understand Color Theory: Colors can evoke feelings and set the mood of your artwork. For example, blues can help convey calmness while reds can signal energy. Learning about color theory can help you pick colors that support your artwork's theme and mood.
  2. Don't be Afraid to Mix Colors: Mixing colors can create interesting effects and give your artwork a unique look. It's like mixing different spices together—you might discover a combination you really love!
  3. Add Texture with Different Techniques: Texture can add depth and interest to your abstract art composition. You can use different brushes, palette knives, or even household objects to create textures. It's like using different cooking techniques to create a variety of tastes in a dish.
  4. Experiment with Layering: Layering colors and textures can make your artwork more complex and interesting. It's like layering flavors in a dish, where each layer adds something new and exciting to the overall taste.

Using color and texture effectively can really elevate your abstract art composition. So, don't be afraid to experiment and get creative with these elements—you might just create your next masterpiece!

How to use contrast and scale

Contrast and scale are like the bass and treble in music—they add rhythm and variety to your abstract art composition. Let's see how you can strike the right chord with these two elements.

  1. Play with Light and Dark: Contrast is all about differences. Just as a catchy tune uses a mix of high and low notes, your art can benefit from the interplay of light and dark colors. This can add visual interest and draw your viewer's eye to key parts of your composition.
  2. Use Scale to Create Impact: Scale refers to the size of elements in your artwork. By playing around with the scale of different elements, you can create a sense of depth, emphasize certain parts, or even tell a story. It's like adjusting the volume in a song—you can make some parts quiet and others loud to create a dynamic and interesting composition.
  3. Balance Contrast and Scale: Too much contrast or scale can overwhelm your viewer, just like too much bass or treble can ruin a song. So, try to strike a balance. If one part of your artwork has high contrast, consider using less contrast in another part. Likewise, if one element is very large, balance it with smaller elements.
  4. Experiment and Adjust: Don't be afraid to experiment with contrast and scale. Just like fine-tuning a music track, you can always adjust these elements till you find the perfect balance that makes your abstract art composition sing.

Remember, contrast and scale are powerful tools in your artist's toolkit. Use them wisely and your abstract art composition can really hit the right notes!

How to use space and depth

Ever heard of the expression "less is more"? When it comes to abstract art composition, the use of space and depth can be just as important as the elements you include.

  1. Respect the White Space: Space, especially white or empty space, is not something to be filled up. It's a powerful element of your composition. It can give the eyes a place to rest, highlight the other elements, and create a sense of balance.
  2. Create Illusion of Depth: Abstract art may not depict real objects, but you can still create a feeling of three-dimensionality. By overlapping shapes, varying sizes, or using shading, you can trick the eye into perceiving depth. It's like creating a stage for your elements to play on.
  3. Use Space to Guide the Eye: Think of space as the stage director of your composition. By arranging elements and space in a certain way, you can guide the viewer's eye across the canvas. This can create a sense of movement and lead the viewer to the focal points.
  4. Experiment with Negative Space: Negative space—the space around and between the elements—can become an interesting element itself. Play around with it, see how it interacts with your elements, and let it add its own unique flavor to your composition.

So, the next time you're working on an abstract art composition, don't just focus on what you're putting in. Pay attention to the space and depth, and watch your artwork come to life!

How to use line and form

In abstract art composition, lines and forms are the bread and butter. They are the building blocks that give structure to your artwork. But are you aware of how powerful they can be?

  1. Lines Tell a Story: Lines can suggest movement, direction, or energy. A curved line might suggest softness and fluidity, while a jagged one might evoke tension or conflict. Remember, it's not just about drawing a line—it's about what the line communicates to the viewer.
  2. Forms Create Interest: Forms—the shapes and structures in your artwork—can create visual interest and focus. They can be geometric and precise, organic and flowing, or anything in between. Don't be afraid to play with forms, mix them, and see what interesting visuals you can create.
  3. Lines and Forms Interact: The relationship between lines and forms can create dynamics in your composition. For instance, a form might seem to push against a line, creating a sense of tension. Or, a line might lead the eye towards a form, creating a focal point.
  4. Experiment with Variations: Even a simple line or form can become fascinating when you start experimenting. Try varying the thickness of your lines, or distorting your forms. You might discover new possibilities and enhance your abstract art composition skills.

So, next time you pick up your brush or pencil, give some thought to the lines and forms you're using. They might be more expressive and versatile than you think!

How to put it all together

Now that we've explored the elements of abstract art composition, the question is: how do you put it all together? Let's break it down step-by-step:

  1. Start with a Clear Intention: Before you even touch your canvas, have a clear idea of what you want to express. This will guide your choices in color, form, texture, and more.
  2. Sketch Your Ideas: Don't be afraid to sketch out your ideas before you start. This can help you visualize your composition and make adjustments before you commit to paint or ink.
  3. Balance is Key: Remember the importance of balance in abstract art. This doesn't always mean symmetry—sometimes, an off-center composition can be just as balanced and harmonious.
  4. Experiment with Different Elements: Use color, texture, contrast, scale, space, depth, line, and form to add interest and complexity to your artwork.
  5. Review and Adjust: Once you've laid down your initial composition, take a step back and look at your piece as a whole. Are there areas that need more balance or harmony? Do you need to add or take away anything? Don't be afraid to make changes.
  6. Trust Your Instinct: At the end of the day, you're the artist. Trust your instinct and make choices that feel right to you. Remember, abstract art is about expressing your unique perspective and creativity.

Mastering abstract art composition is a journey, not a destination. Every piece you create is an opportunity to learn, grow, and express yourself in new and exciting ways. So, ready to create your next masterpiece?

If you're looking to further develop your skills in abstract art and achieve balance and harmony in your compositions, we recommend exploring Juliet Schreckinger's workshop, 'Composing Complex Illustrations using Basic Shapes.' This workshop will guide you through the process of creating intricate, visually-pleasing illustrations by breaking down complex subjects into simple shapes, helping you master the art of abstract composition.