That is an excellent question or rather series of questions and what I am getting from this is you want to know how to paint abstract art. Before I go on I want to say welcome to the Abstract and Contemporary Art Forum it's a great place to be and we are glad you found us Hazartist!
I have often asked myself the question how I would teach someone how to paint abstractly or even to paint like I do. On the second part of the question I would say you have to get inside my head and see what I see, feel what I feel, and become the process of moving some of that out of the cluttered mess that is my head and out onto something material, like canvas or something else that is real, so that others can see my insides without having to shrink down tiny enough to enter my head and see it for themselves. So I think there must be an easier way...
Traditionally when you wanted to paint flowers, you would go outside to the flower garden and pick some that you like, set them down in way that looks good to you then take your paints and brushes and copy them so that it looks a lot like what you are seeing with the flowers you picked. Some artists can paint flowers so well that you can smell their fragrance and almost feel the warmth of the sunlight as you gaze at the painting. It takes a lot of practice and hard work combined with the knowledge of both painting tools and materials and the techniques to make marks on a surface that will be believable to a viewer's brain which, hopefully, will immediately recognize the artwork as flowers.
In abstraction you still need all the practice and hard work, material and tool knowledge combined with a familiarity of mark making techniques to create an abstract painting. In my mind, at least, the big difference with abstraction is that you do not need to describe the flower in the same way traditional art does. Yes, you may want another person to be able to recognize you are painting a flower ...but how do you do that without painting the flowers like you see it?
Again, this is just me but I get interested in conveying what the flowers do to me, what happens when I see them, smell them, see them grow and drink in the sunlight Maybe even imagine if I was the flower and what is it like to need to be cared for, dependent on nature, where I live and my caretaker to stay alive and grow ...or what if I am, as the flower, now dying because I am no longer cared for or wanted and the sun no longer visits me? Now you can convey all these in traditional art but you don't want to copy real life you want to convey the emotions and essence of it all.
It all seems so esoteric when you put it in words (but then we are talking about abstractions!) and that is why you must create it as art - like painting. Edward Hopper, a talented representational illustrator said, "If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." So I see what the abstract artist doing is appealing to more than the object recognition centers of the brain but to the emotional centers that convey the feelings for, of or about something rather than imitation of its shape and dimension.
I will share with you a few pointers to get you started beyond that you will have some momentum that may take you to the finish line.
Personally, this is what I do... I set myself to work during a time when I can 'get lost' and nobody will go looking for me. I want every breath to be used in pursuit of what I am painting without interruption until I am done or at a stopping place. I know this is idealistic and I am interrupted a lot anyway but this is what I aim for.
I usually don't know what I am going to paint when I start (and often while I am painting - sometimes to the end!). It is just simpler that way and it has taken me a long time to recognize this as an aid to painting.
You need to know what colors you want to use. I do have colors that I like to work on and it helps if you are familiar with the properties of a certain palette or multiple palettes. Colors that you combine and ones you like to see playing together. If you don't know what colors work together then I would suggest you try two or three to start with and find what you can do with them. Which ones are like lovers, always beautiful together or you can use the ones which are always fighting ...if you use those colors then you may need a referee color, that is one that can be used as a transition between the clashing colors. There are rules about using color but in my book the only rule is there is no rule if it works and you have to develop an eye along the way to fully be able to judge that.
You may or may not like to start with a white canvas ...I have always toned mine to some color. You will have to work on what you like and what colors work under the palette you have chosen.
At some point during your session you need to remember this, don't be afraid to do it. Do what? What you were thinking you should do... was what you did a mistake? Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are what the next masterpiece comes from and maybe what makes the painting you are doing so interesting. I won't say there are no mistakes but I will say you must throw away the fear of making them. You will and you will benefit from them ...you may even learn how to make them the best part!
One more thing before you start ...you like music? I find music can help me step into 'the zone' where everything will come together very much easier than if It is stone quiet. Some people work well in silence but I prefer music.
I start in front of the canvas with at least one or two colors chosen and with a large brush (to start with) make a mark somewhere. I really doesn't matter at this point where. Then make another. Maybe turn your brush a little differently or swoosh the line, pair the brush strokes, make the perpendicular or make them dots, whatever. Stop for a moment and ...what is it saying to you? anything? Go on and make a few more creative marks. Stop now and then and take a look. Did you make a face or something recognizable as something from the real world that your brain is saying, oh, that's a ____! Nooooo! Please try to find a way to work beyond making things, let things make themselves.
Now I pay little attention to what I am making and look for things that make me feel something. After I have made a dozen or so marks (and I have only been using one color) I will start to make some more marks with another color (often it is the first color modified with white or another color). What I am trying to do is get the lines, blotches, colors, shapes to say something back to me. If it is still quiet then continue on until you get a response from the painting.
If you are not getting it or it is not coming through to you ...check and see if you are thinking about things like this: when will I be finished or this is taking so long, this is hard, I'm tired, what's that noise? Did I pay the rent? If your attention is being sidetracked by this kind of stuff, I would guess that your left brain is still trying to dominate the show and you still need to find the zone where time and distractions have fallen away and you are hardly aware of them. I know people can paint from the left side of the brain - and kudos to you if that's you - but I am giving you advice from my way so if you are still bothered by them you will have to find a way through it and sharpen up your artistic senses so that you can hear the voice of the work that is talking back to you.
Once you hear that voice, you simply respond. Someone sticks their right hand out to you ...you extend yours and shake. Driving along someone slams on their brakes in front of you ...you put on your brakes. You are thirsty ...your get a drink. Hungry ...you eat. All are responses to different things. Learn to respond to the emotions of the work. If it is hard at first, keep at it - it will come. eventually it will be like breathing and your hear beating. That is you will hardly be aware of what you are doing and it will look like it all comes naturally.
There is so much more and so much more not mentioned. I could go on (and I heard some of you ...please don't! eeek!) but this should be enough for you to cull out what you think may be useful and what you have no need for. The important part is like the Nike commercial says "Just Do It!" Get yourself up, grab the brushes and paint then go make more abstracts. Maybe start small until you feel it more naturally.
I did more than a hundred 5x7 abstracts as experiments and practice pieces (still making them too). They are my "Little Panel Project
". You can slap them out in no time and the expenses are much easier to handle than doing grand canvases and getting frustrated.
It is obvious that you 'want to'. Self motivation is the prerequisite to everything else. You can do it!