Materials & Techniques,  Techniques

Creating Abstract Sea and Landscrapes

No, that’s not a typo!

I’ve always been a fan of ‘accidental’ art, and this technique is one of those eminently satisfying yet essentially very simple ways of painting, that can deliver stunning results. That’s not to say that every single piece will create a masterpiece, but that if you do a whole bunch of them, you’ll end up with at least one or two that are frameworthy, and part of the joy of this activity is the very unpredictability of the results. You never quite know what you are going to get! The result is very like the technique that the artist Gerhard Richter has used in his work (on a much larger scale) and whose work is a testament to how much you can do with this technique. At it’s very simplest, it’s a great way of making rainbows with kids! However be warned it can get messy, so if using this technique with children, old clothes and washable paints are required!




The only tool you need for this technique is an old plastic credit or loyalty card of some sort. These can be wiped clean and used again and again.

In terms of paint, you need something fairly runny that will spread easily. I used Golden Fluid Acrylic Paint, but this is expensive to use, so perhaps use a cheaper acrylic if you are doing this activity with kids. These paints dry fast, so that you need to work quickly if using them, but you could try something a little slower drying if necessary.

You need to use a support or surface that is very smooth – I used Yupo paper, which is a very thin artificial acrylic paper. It also has the advantage that it doesn’t curl or buckle up when wet. It is quite expensive though. Alternatively you could also use a very smooth satin finish paper or card which would be cheaper to use, but may require a little more paint to be used because of the increased friction.


Before you start, it can be helpful to tape down the paper at the edges with masking tape, so that it doesn’t move as you scrape the paint.

Probably the best way to demonstrate the technique is to watch the video below. As you can see, you can carefully go back over the first scrape 2 or 3 times, bearing in mind that each time you do this will change the way it looks – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse! You can also add new colours of paint in between scrapes if you like as required. The amount of pressure you place on the card will also result in different effects with the streaks created – just experiment. No two sea or landscrapes will be alike!



Once you are happy with your land or seascrape, you can also use the edge of the card to modify it further by adding small lines or details if you wish, you can also scrape into the paint while still wet with a cocktail stick or brush, or you can treat the whole exercise as a starting point for a picture which can be further modified once dry.

Have fun!


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