In the past two years I have been painting I have begun to become quite familiar with the best abstract artists on YouTube to watch and study from.
As an ambitious abstract painter myself, I have spent many hours studying their techniques and attempting to replicate what I see them doing.
Many of these artists simply demonstrate what they do without any explanation while others are building a channel dedicated to helping aspiring artists such as you and me develop.
Their channels tend to have more explanation of painting techniques as well as aspects of the art business you should know about if you intend to go professional.
Not only that, but the vast majority of them have also ascended in their popularity in just the past two years while I have been learning the ropes and observing their rapid climbs.
YouTube seems to be hungry for this type of content and there is plenty of room for newcomers.
So while this is a list of artists for you to hopefully get inspired by and learn from for your own abstract works, it is also a reference list of the artists who have successfully utilized the YouTube platform to extend their brand and grow their business.
If you aspire to do the same then studying their channels, their videos, their titles, and where they fall in your search queries will serve you well.
This list is mostly comprised of the artists that I personally like and feel are doing something noteworthy on YouTube. So just be aware they are being filtered through my personal biases of the art that I like and want to learn to create.
That said, we are going to spend a great deal of time analyzing their channel’s numbers and results too.
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John Beckley Abstract Art
If you have read any other pages on this site you may already know that John Beckley has been a huge inspiration to my work and development as an artist.
An artist based out of France, when I first started painting 2 years ago he was beginning to grow in popularity. He was already well on his way but nowhere near as big as it is today.
It looks like his YouTube channel has been around since December 2007 and it was almost exactly 2 years ago that he started taking it more seriously.
Between 2007 and 2018 you could see where one year he would take it seriously and another he wouldn’t. Then in 2018 he got super consistent with his uploads and boom!
His channel took off. He currently has 738 thousand subscribers at the time of writing this!
I can remember watching his videos and thinking, “That doesn’t look so hard. I should give that a try.” He of course makes it look much easier than it is but I have learned a lot just by observing his techniques.
I very quickly learned I needed to know about color theory and Beckley certainly has a mastery of the color wheel. Studying his use of color has taught me a lot.
He also has a wide array of tools and techniques he uses from masking to washes, if you observe him carefully you will have a good idea of some things you can try in your own works.
His channel is one that is comprised of demonstrations. I can’t really remember any video where he verbally explains what he is doing. Likely because his native language is French and he knows the bulk of his audience is English speaking.
Fun fact about John, he actually learned to speak English just for this reason! You got to respect that level of dedication and hustle.
I have to be honest here, I haven’t watched as many of Rinske’s videos as I have some of the other artists on this list but I have seen enough to know she is an outstanding abstract artist.
I have seen enough of her work to have had it inspire a few of my own pieces without me even realizing it.
I recently started adding triangles into my works and using the masking technique I’ve seen her use to get thin lines.
It’s funny how things can seep into your subconscious and emerge into your work without you even knowing it.
Rinske Douna is from The Hague, Netherlands. She began her YouTube channel in January of 2019. Just a year and a half later she now has 168 thousand subscribers!
That is some pretty impressive growth if you ask me! Outstanding!
Looking at the history of her publishing and how nearly all of her videos have gotten thousands of views I’m left questioning what it is that she is doing better than most.
Why is it her channel has had so much growth in the past year?
One thing to note is she has very high quality video production. I personally don’t think this is a total requirement for good growth but it definitely doesn’t hurt.
Another thing to note is the volume of content she has put out. Rinske has been releasing videos for a bit more than a year and a half and has almost 200 videos in her catalog!
The next thing I would encourage you to examine, on all of these channels, is how they go about titling their content.
The larger channels all have easy to read titles. These titles clearly tell you what the video is going to be about while also having something in them that targets a search query.
Rinske’s channel does a pretty great job of this.
Ed over at Swarez Art is an outstanding example of how far hard work and persistence can get you. Ed’s story is certainly one to inspire the masses and show that anyone can make it at what they are passionate about with enough time and dedication.
I’ll leave it to him to tell his personal story.
What I’m more interested in for the purposes of this article is the growth of his YouTube channel and some of the more unique things he is doing with it.
Ed has a slightly different approach than most of the others on this list. He has this massive and beautiful workspace that houses his hundreds of large paintings. Just getting to see what an awesome studio he has is reason enough to check his videos out.
He has someone behind the camera helping him film his videos and he does his best to provide his viewers with quality information that is going to help them grow as artists.
While his channel has grown a bit more slowly than some of the others on this list he is still doing quite well. He has jumped up quite nicely in the past year in subscribers and output.
He just recently broke 20 thousand subscribers!
In the past year, he has 10x’d his output on YouTube and does weekly live streams every Wednesday at 7:30 PM London Time. Ed went from 12 videos last year up to 72 currently at the time of writing this and we still have 4 months to go!
His live streams are a lot of fun to attend. I just attended one for the first time today and Ed does a really great job interacting with his audience. He asks for their input on his work and responds to what the audience wants.
You can join in on the fun every Wednesday on either YouTube or Facebook.
I don’t know of any other artist doing something like this. He is the first I have come across so far and I think it is really cool.
He is certainly one to keep an eye on and learn from!
That said, notice the correlation between content output and growth. I think that may be a common pattern we might begin to see here. I’ve watched Ed break both the 10k and 20k marks in the past 10 months.
It just goes to show how that increase in content production is paying dividends for the Swarez brand.
There certainly is more to a winning formula than this though. Let’s continue our study!
Mike McDonald is a bit of a newcomer to the ranks of the artists included on this list but I believe his channel will grow substantially in the months to come.
He’s only recently popped up on my radar after the algorithm identified I would like his content and suggested him to me. Then I began to notice his videos show up in my search queries as well.
I recently had the pleasure of conversing with him for my article on “Abstract Acrylic Painting Techniques”.
At the time of writing this he currently has 1,200 subscribers and his channel is just about a year old.
His channel is an interesting case study. Mike certainly has been no slacker.
His channel is a year old this month and he releases steady content with over a hundred videos currently in his catalog. His video quality is great and his editing is on point.
He gets multiple angles to show what it is he is doing. We will have to continue to compare the differences between these channels as we go to see if we can crack what it is that drives growth.
I’m left wondering why Mike’s channel isn’t bigger?
While Rinske and Swarez both take time to talk to their audience, which I’m sure helps to build rapport with the audience, there are plenty examples of artists on this list who don’t do that at all but are doing quite well.
Like I said earlier, I’m sure Mike’s channel will continue to grow and eventually get distributed in the recommended feeds but what are some things that can be done to accelerate that potential outcome?
What might be hindering this growth as well?
I feel like with the quality of Mike’s filming and his artwork he should have more subscribers. Don’t get me wrong, a thousand subscribers is hard to reach but this guy is way too good not to be getting more growth.
The only thing I keep coming back to is the titling techniques. Perhaps he needs to try something different with his thumbnails.
I personally think his thumbnails are great but there has to be something about this channel that just isn’t right for it not to be taking off like the others on this list.
Hopefully if I keep writing about him and can get my own pages to rank in google it will help him out.
Next, we will take a look at a channel that has really blown up in the past few years. So much so that Jazza recently took note of these “viral abstract art videos” and tried his hand at abstract.
Let’s see if we can pinpoint anything in particular that is driving his growth.
Suraj Fine Arts
When I had my little chat with Mike McDonald a few weeks back we briefly discussed many of the artists on this list.
Suraj Fine Arts was a channel we discussed and pondered over for quite a bit. This artist truly just happened to be in the right place at the right time
Suraj’s channel was originally started in 2015 but he didn’t really get serious with it until around 2017. He did over a hundred videos that year.
It’s hard to say now how many views they clocked at the time because today Suraj’s channel boasts nearly 3 million subscribers!
That’s pretty insane! There is no doubt in my mind Suraj likely makes a full time income off of YouTube add revenue alone.
Heck at this rate, he will catch up to Jazza who I believe is the biggest art channel on YouTube.
Now the reasons for his enormous amount of growth are difficult to pinpoint. One of the main differences I am seeing between all of these different channels is how they choose to title their videos.
You can see where early on Suraj was playing with his video titles. You can see how early on he was just naming them something simple and broad like in the “Abstract Painting ‘When We Met’ ” video above.
I suspect that his use of the search term “abstract painting” in those first videos really helped them take off.
Then later on he starts adding hash tags in his actual titles. You can see where he starts to try and stuff too much into one title and the views start to drop.
I don’t think the hash tag themselves had any impact but then what he does next brings me to a critical observation. After he tries using hashtags the next thing he does is start using forward slashes in his titles.
I strongly suspect the use of forward slashes muddy’s up the algorithms ability to determine what the video is about. Especially if there are multiple classifications going on in the title.
That said, Suraj has one of the most viral channels around so there is bound to be plenty more he is doing right.
There are plenty of videos where he has multiple slashes and classifications going on that have gotten tons of views. We will have to test this observation and see if there is anything to it.
It is important to note that Rinske Douna has never used slashes in any of her titles. Some of her titles are a bit lengthy but overall she seems to be pretty consistent in the level of views she gets per video.
They don’t vary quite as wildly as what we see on Suraj’s channel.
Let’s continue our list with a few more artists who are doing demonstrations like these and see how their channels have grown in comparison.
Oliver Maass is another interesting channel to look at.
It was about 1 year ago he started uploading videos of his paintings. Between the months of February and August he released upwards of 70 videos.
Sometimes two in one day, sometimes every other day.
While Oliver uses the forward slash titling technique in every video, he has still managed to amass a following of about 55 thousand subscribers.
Which makes me think that perhaps the forward slashes aren’t really that much of a problem so much as trying to pack the title with too many classifications.
In recent months he has begun to slow down quite a bit but perhaps there is something to the amount of volume he kicked off with.
Volume certainly seems to be a common thread between the channels that have a lot of subscribers VS those that are still getting going. Volume, consistency, titling, and thumbnails all seem to be rather important factors to consider.
Ray Grimes Art
Ray Grimes and Oliver Maass both have similar styles. I actually discovered Ray’s work first and it’s certainly had an impact on my growth and development as an artist.
Ray’s channel has some real interesting data points to look at.
He currently has a whopping 360 thousand subscribers but lately he doesn’t seem to be getting quite the same reach he used to.
He does quite well with each video but looking at his upload history he has a few anomalies in his portfolio.
The video posted above is his highest viewed video to date with about 9.5 million views at the time of writing this. That is roughly 475 thousand views a month since the video was initially published.
When I see something like that compared to the rest of the portfolio of videos it leaves me asking what drove that activity on this video?
I must admit the video itself was quite relaxing to watch and the resulting painting was very pretty but I don’t feel like the painting itself was that much different from other’s that he has.
Perhaps there is something about it that makes people want to share it more than others. The music was nice and relaxing and judging from the comments there seems to be some intrigue as to what the results will be.
The other thing to note on this video is that no add plays on it. I’m not totally sure but I suspect that is due to the music playing. While it is a great song he doesn’t give the artist credit in the description.
It’s not clear if he has the rights to the music or not and many people commented on the fact that it wasn’t in the description. YouTube’s algorithms are really good at identifying that sort of stuff too.
This is just speculation on my part but how much would it suck to post a video and have it get so many views only to have it demonetized! This is certainly something to be aware of if you are planning to do your own channel.
Dirty Artist Acrylic Pouring
When it comes to acrylic pouring there are a few channels I would highly recommend. Dirty Artist Acrylic Pouring is certainly among them.
In the past year there have been a few new acrylic pouring channels popping up that do so really creative pouring techniques.
The Dirty Artist is among them. I could write a book of acrylic pouring techniques based off the works of several of these artists combined.
Through watching artists like them work you get to see that although acrylic pouring may look simple, the real creativity in the art form is in the techniques used to pour the paint on to the canvas.
This channel has 120 thousand subscribers at the time of writing this. This channel again has put out a decent amount of volume in the past year with nearly 130 videos in his catalog.
He has gotten really good and choosing thumbnail pictures that display something interesting. Once you have watched a few of his videos you know that whatever we see in this thumbnail is going to be used in his pour.
There are several other artists that are utilizing this method as well. Specifically Tiktus Color and John Franklin Art. John Franklin in particular is very good at this approach.
Tiktus Color Art
Tiktus Color Art is another channel that focuses solely on acrylic pouring.
Very similar to the Dirty Artist’s channel, the video uploads started roughly a year ago and Tiktus has uploaded over 180 videos to date!
Early on he was doing quite well with his videos and then when he released the above video, BOOM! His channel really started to grow.
Today Tiktus has a whopping 546 thousand subscribers!
It is really interesting to compare these two channels as they both started uploading around the same time. They both produce very similar kinds of content.
They both have grown very nicely. A hundred thousand subscribers is substantial and in the right hands can generate a great full-time income.
That said, it is interesting to see how one has grown 5x larger than the other.
When I go through the history of each channel and compare some of the differences between them I still gravitate heavily towards their titling tactics.
Tiktus Color has clean titles and clean thumbnails. His titles generally have things in them that someone would search for. He does a good job at creating intrigue in the thumbnails.
Dirty artist’s titles at first were pretty messy with hashtags and numbers in them. Later on, he gets better but still is sometimes whimsical with his titling.
It still worked for him and his channel grows very nicely but I think maybe there is something about the way that Tiktus did it that makes the videos more “recommendable”.
Peter Dranitsin is another great abstract artist to learn from. He is another artist I discovered early on in my development.
Coincidentally 2 years ago is just about the time he started uploading regularly. So right as I was starting painting he was expanding his efforts on YouTube.
His channel has actually been around for quite some time. He originally started dabbling on YouTube about 8 years ago but you can see he didn’t really get serious about consistently uploading until 2 years ago.
I remember being inspired by this demonstration in particular so much that I ended up making a painting just like it. One of only a few paintings I have let go into the wild so far.
Studying Peter’s work will give you a great sense of how to create these awesome abstract landscapes of whatever colors you may want to go with.
I learned a lot of techniques from him on how to do trees. Sometimes he explains what he is doing while others it’s just a demonstration.
Looking through the history of his channel it is another interesting example to examine. Peter is a really good example of clean titling and thumbnails.
If you look closely you can see him experimenting and when he finds something that works he doubles down on it. As an example he titled one of his paintings “Unique Painting Techniques / Red Tree on Black and White Background / Acrylics”.
That particular video took off and got over a hundred thousand views.
Then he has a whole series of videos titled Unique Painting Techniques. A valiant attempt but I suspect he honed in on the wrong phrase.
That said, he could have just liked the idea of doing a Unique Painting Techniques series and just been catering to his own desire to do that series of videos.
There are more artists I wanted to include in this list but I have to cut it off somewhere.
If you are a developing artist interested in learning abstract painting techniques then I recommend you subscribe to every channel on this list!
If you’re like me and have ambitions to start your own channel yourself, take some time to go into the video upload history of each channel and analyze them. You never know what you might be able to figure out!