Jasper Johns said “take an object, do something to it, do something else to it.” This famous quote signifies his creative method and artistic curiousity. His art-making process was a visual dialogue driven by formal relations of the art elements (line, shape, space, color, value, texture) and the principles of design (opposition, proportion, transition, balance, dominance, rhythm, unity).
Look at the way he takes simple objects and visually plays with them as symbols. Notice how he creates interplay between figure and ground, the object and the background, so that the symbol or object is both lost and found.
Next, look at the scissors series of paintings by Skip Lawrence:
Next, look at the abstractions of Kathering Chang Liu:
Next, look at the first part of the demo on Why Gesso (at least half way through to see the technique which works with mat medium and alcohol too.)
In your comments, post observations about each of the 3 artists. How do they each achieve complexity in their paintings? How do they invite viewer engagement?
How do they create unity? Choose one work to analyze and describe the way that it functions visually through the relationships of the formal elements.
For sketchbook, draw a variety of simple objects or symbols and experiment with shading and/or color that may be a start for your next painting. You cannot pre-plan the next painting because it is a dialogue with the creative process but you can explore through drawing the expressive potential of simple objects (tools, untensils, hardware parts) and you can consider the color scheme you will use when you paint.