To Be Random is to Make an Easy String Painting

String Exercise2


Did you know you can use string to create wonderful abstract paintings?  Here I show you how!

Allow about 1 1/2 hours for this exercise.

You will need these art materials

  • String
  • scissors
  • good quality acrylic paper or primed canvas (A3 size)
  •  brushes (1 large, 1 medium and one small)
  • acrylic paints, cool and warm red, blue and yellow plus black and white
  • palette
  • board (optional)
  • rags for spills
  • container for water

Coating the string with paint

Firstly cut 4 longish pieces of string, then lay out a good amount of black with smaller amounts of both red, blue and yellow to create a dark tertiary colour.  Create your own colour if you prefer. Wear gloves to coat the string with this acrylic mix. All the colours will mix together when the string is completely coated in paint.

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Laying the string on the paper to make the painting

Lay your paper on a board or table and place the 4 pieces of string on to your paper leaving the ends slightly off the page. It is a good idea to allow the string to fall randomly on to the page although it helps to make circles with the string as you lower it on to the paper.


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Pressing a clean sheet on top to make the painting

Next lay a clean piece of A3 paper on top of your “paper with string” and gently press down with some books, magazines or similar.


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Pulling the string every which way to make the painting

Next, pull the string by the ends which are resting off the edge of the paper.  Gently move the string from side to side to make an interesting pattern.  This is done quite quickly.


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Lift the paper off to see your abstract painting lines

Once this is done you may lift the books and the top page off the work to reveal the interesting pattern beneath.


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At this point you may wish to create an abstract painting using oil crayons or continue to work in acrylics.

What can you see in your painting?

I immediately saw the figure of a boy in a car in my pattern and proceeded to isolate it by filling in the background with a light orange/pink. Can you see anything in your work to isolate?  Is there something jumping out at you?  Check it out upside down too!  If nothing is appearing, just colour in the shapes as I did in the abstract above.


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Putting the paint down

To create colour harmony, it is wise to use mixtures of red, yellow, black and white OR blue, yellow, black and white paint to fill in the spaces   Try to use a cool painting colours in the background to recede and warm painting colours in the foreground object to bring it forward.

Just keep patiently putting the warm colours in the foreground in triangular spots throughout the figure (or whatever).  You can white out some of the painting if you do not like it and go over it again, I did! Eventually, it will all come together.


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Here is another done using a scraper to create texture.

string painting abstract

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