Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 4, 2012

DIY Abstract Tutorial with Step by Step Photos + Instructions

You might have guessed, I really enjoy painting.  One day, in high school art class - which I cannot believe was 10 years ago - I was working with such vim and vigor on a painting (the black tree in the office, actually) that in addition to getting paint in my hair, on my glasses, on my school uniform and up my nose, I totally demolished the delicate watercolour of the girl next to me with my crazy over spray of paint.  I thought "good artists" painted with "flair" (which to 18 year old me meant flailing arms).  After the "incident" I was sent to paint alone in a small, windowless supply room, where I splashed around and got 98% for my final mark (high marks for enthusiasm, plus Handy Hubby - who was Buildy Boyfriend then - made custom stretchers and frames for all of my work). 

I highly recommend painting as stress relief and a creative outlet, but a lot of readers have expressed some hesitation about getting started.  I think once you get started, you'll quickly and easily develop your own style and compose a beautiful abstract without even thinking about it!

To get you started, here's a look at how a recent painting I made involved.  Hopefully these step by step photos will inspire you to pick up a brush!

Step by step tutorial for DIY abstract

How to make an abstract painting:

To achieve a loose, drippy look, I started with a dry brush and acrylic paint and then used a plant mister filled with water to spray the paint after I applied it to the canvas.  It gave me more control than a wet brush and kept things looking kind of light and watery.

Achieve a drippy paint look

DIY art ideas

Then I just kept working at it, applying paint where I saw fit.  (And trying not to douse the whole room in paint.)  Here are a few full size photos from the progress collage:

Art you can make with the kids
Easy art ideas

As a last step, I added some black and white paint in sharper lines to contrast the softness.  

Make your own art

It was an experiment and - most important - a ton of fun!

Creative ways to de-stress

Don't worry if you don't like your result - it is easy to paint over acrylic paint.  Remember how I tweaked the bedroom triptych and then totally fell in love with version 2?  I also reworked this geographic painting (details soon). 

If you're really worried about creating something worthy of your walls, here's my tip: I think even the simplest painting looks good in a large scale, like the giant drippy piece on the left:

White walls bright art
The Apartment Via
Art inspiration
The Apartment Via
Try a DIY painting - you won't be disappointed!

P.S. This abstract art tutorial was featured by Domino & In Style!
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19 comments

  1. Best post ever! I love doing abstract art but need help with the layering.. thanks for for the spray bottle tip!

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    1. I don't always use my paint so wet, but it resulted in something a little more watercolour-y. Normally, I let a layer dry and when I apply another layer, the first layer peeks through. Acrylic paint is really forgiving and likes to be layered. Good luck painting!!

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  2. What a beautiful painting Tanya! I recently just finished an abstract(ish) landscape painting, but other than that, I have had no time to paint. BUT I am moving in 2 weeks which means I have to paint an entire house... that might put me off painting all together for a few months! lol

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    1. You definitely sound crazy busy!! I'm sure in your new pad, once the walls are done, you'll be able to paint some awesome new pieces. You have some serious painting talent!!

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  3. Inspiring. I am excited because I have been wanting to do your black&white abstract painting. On a recent outing to Goodwill I found a 24in x 36in painting (that someone else did) and bought it to reuse the canvas. I can't wait to see how my version turns out.

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    1. Oooo, I can't wait to see your version either!! Please share photos, I'd love to feature them!

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  4. umm...amazing. i wish i had that kind of talent

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    1. It is all an odds game, lol. I paint SO much that a few are bound to look okay. And if not, I keep painting until they do! I think anyone can do the kind of abstract painting I do - I promise!

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  5. It looks great.. abstracts are always so much fun and freeing.

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    1. Thanks so much! I agree - abstracts are fun to do AND look at!

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  6. Your abstracts are gorgeous Tanya!! I absolutely love them!

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    1. Awww, thanks! Making them is a big stress reliever!

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  7. Love the colors in your latest piece! I whipped out a couple for my dining room when I was redecorating. I actually painted over some older pieces that didn't fit what I was doing anymore. I guess I need to add them to my DIY board on Pinterist.

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    1. Definitely pin them! Although I can't see Pinterest here, for some sad reason. I will have to take a closer look at the revamped house tour (which looks so good - I just was logged into my other google account when I spied it, so didn't comment).

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  8. This is an awesome tutorial Tanya ! Happy Thanksgiving :)

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    1. Oh my gosh it's Thanksgiving?!? I totally forgot! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you.
      Thank you.

      ;)

      You always leave such sweet comments!

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