One of the way you can do it, using an approach which I call the 'Keyword Analysis'. Let me show you how:
Here the keyword is OCEAN.
Take a piece of paper & strip off the OCEAN into its components -
- Sea shore
- Waves & tides
- Fish, Mermaids
- ….. etc.
List down all the attributes an ocean can represent –
- Infinite (symbolically)
- .... etc.
Now list down every entity you can think of, corresponding or matching to each of the above listed attributes –
- Infinite: Sky, Space, Mind, …..
- Deep: Woman’s emotion, …..
- Unexplored: God’s intention, Man’s potential
- Powerful: God, Demon, …..
- Immortal: Time, Love, ……
- Life: Beginning, …..
- Death: Destruction, The End, …..
- ..... etc.
If you see, you have translated a single keyword i.e. OCEAN into so many associated keywords. Every keyword is an idea. Now you can pick up any set of these words, make a meaningful combination and formulate a number of unique abstract concepts out of that. See how I make it using the above keywords:
“An Ocean’s depth can be represented as a Woman’s emotion… deep, infinite, unexplored and powerful. Her love can bring Life on a barren island and at the same time her hatred can bring the fury of destruction. She is like Water… Nothing is softer than her but still she can move the mountains. She is a Mermaid... She is a Demon too. She is the Beginning… She is the End.”
Now I know what I need to represent on my canvas, and I portrayed the Idea in this way: