03 Sep 2023Mont Marte

Looking to try your hand at painting abstract cityscapes? Or created a few and looking for some words of wisdom? Either way, we asked Melbourne abstract artist, Charles Nanopoulos (@charlienanos_art) for his tips to help lend a hand for the next time you’re feeling creative.


1. Artist Charles Nanopoulos holding a paint brush and sitting next to his abstract artwork of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

1. Look close to home for inspo

When looking for inspiration I normally look close to home: bars, buildings, laneways and places I’ve visited in the past. I look for places which are bursting with character, life, colour and shared experiences. 


2. Use a reference sketch or photo

Starting my process, suddenly I get an idea in my mind and once I’ve got that idea, I’ll either quickly sketch a very rough design or jot down a note in my phone. I tend to use reference photos --most I’ve taken myself. 


2. An abstract cityscape painting in acrylic of Melbourne's Hozier Laneway.

3. Working in threes

Having done a lot of previous commissions inspired by cityscapes, buildings, laneways, etc, I have developed a way in which I tend to balance my artworks with three main elements fitting in the other pieces around them. 


4. Start with a sketch first

For each individual piece, I’ll do a rough, light sketch directly on top of the canvas just as a guide. I try and go with the flow and be as flexible as possible, wonky lines and all. 


3. Charles Nanopoulos sketching the Sydney Opera House in black and white

5. For an abstract look, stray away from perfection

Getting the desired look, the ideas I tend to stray away from are: straight lines, perfect corners, matching scale and perfect depth. I try to flatten and simplify the artwork as much as possible. Have fun, enjoy what you’re creating and if it feels like work, take a break. 


6. Try contrasting colours

I often use a combination of pure colours and mixed colours. I tend to use a lot of greys and browns for the street aspect and contrast that with a nice, bright, vibrant blue! 


4. An abstract artwork of a green tram in Melbourne's city.

7. Get close to your work for controlled lines

The way I get crisp irregular lines is a bit different. I like to work close to the artwork, sometimes laying down while holding the paint brush low to get better control.

8. Getting overwhelmed? Take a step back

Step back, take a deep breath and adjust. You can always paint over anything you don’t like! 


5. Artist Charles Nanopoulos holding a paint palette in front of his face with the MCG artwork behind him.

9. You’ll know when it’s finished

Sometimes I’ll look at the final product for weeks, adding small elements and details. I think you’ll know when you’re content. When it’s finished, I like to use a spray-on matte varnish to protect my artwork. 


10. Practice with different sizes and details and enjoy the process

Create, create and create! The more ideas (be it good or bad) the better. The more artwork you produce, the more refined your designs will become. Adjust and be flexible as you go. Always look to push your boundaries with sizes and details. Create your own personal style with a signature touch and just enjoy and being in the moment. 


6. An abstract acrylic artwork of Melbourne's  Luna Park entrance.


Charles Nanopoulos is an abstract artist from Melbourne. His distinctive dot and dash technique emerged as a way to save paint during the pandemic, and it’s now become part of his unique style. His abstract cityscape work includes a range of iconic Melbourne destinations from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to Luna Park.

You can find more about Charles Nanopoulos’ creative journey here or discover more about his art in our gallery listing.

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