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

September 11, 2014

25 Easy + Inspiring Art Ideas

Did you see how cold it was here yesterday?!?  I wore earmuffs while I worked outside, and it was with a heavy heart that I pulled out the bin labelled "winter accessories".  While we lived in Ottawa, I grew to love fall because it was a welcome respite from the sticky humidity of summer.  Now that I'm back in Northwestern Ontario, fall offers me little but the ominous warning that winter is coming.  I don't know why, but I'm dreading winter like never before.  Maybe because last winter was pretty grueling: snow so deep that even my humongous truck got stuck, a failing furnace warmed our house to a toasty 16 degrees (that's only 60 for my American friends), and endless snowstorms

Despite the cold, I've been working hard, trying to finish "summer projects," like staining the deck, spray painting everything, and cleaning out the garage (plus I'm really hoping we manage to paint the house exterior).  I know our days of working on projects outside are numbered, so I'm also cleaning out our weird little fish room, which I have decided will make the perfect studio for painting.  It's got a lake view, a floor I don't give a hoot about wrecking, and a sink!  This winter I've decided that I'm going to hunker down and create.  My Mom and I always dreaming up really fun ideas for beautiful, artful, handmade home wares and we decided that this winter we're finally going to shelve the excuses and see them come to fruition.  With this genius plan, my dread for winter has abated ever so slightly.   

Just for fun, I rounded up 25 ideas for modern, chic (but super easy) DIY art projects, in case you need a few fun projects to help you get excited for colder months, and more time spent indoors.

This project caused a bit of outrage (read the comments on her blog), but I really like Dana's trendy gold and chevron painting.  It's fast and easy, but the large scale makes such a big impact.  This is one of those satisfying, little-work-big-outcome projects - my favorite!

Equally simple is Katie's textured painting, which can be whipped up with leftover renovation supplies: all purpose joint compound, a trowel, and leftover paint.

Bower Power

Katie's DIY art really reminds me of this stunning, muted pair of abstracts:

Image Via

My last print-making experience saw me gauge a huge chunk out of my right hand but I'm still tempted by this simple tutorial from Emma Dime, using a handmade rubber stamp.

Emma Dime

But of course I favor this aqua version (from Rachel):

The Crafted Life

Using colourful embroidery stitches to affix a crocheted doily to cloth makes for a sweet (and easy) piece of art - and a great way to use the doilies that seem to linger on, unloved, at yard sales and thrift shops.  Here Esther used an embroidery hoop to display the finished product, but I think mounting a group of doilies onto fabric that's been stretched on a frame would be a nice option, and lend a slightly more modern feel.

Wholly Kao

It's not that I have anything against embroidery hoops!  In fact, this installation (spotted by at Anthropologie, by Little Girl Big Closet) would be a perfect DIY project! Done in sheer fabrics and hung, layered like this, in front of a powder room window would be a really fun take on sheers curtains. 

Little Girl Big Closet

I have quite a few DIY art tutorials in my DIY Projects Archive and although I've really tried to take step-by-step photos of what is usually a fly by the seat of my pants type affair, sometimes it's difficult to really capture how a painting is made.  Mandi's tutorials for her stunning abstract painting is perfection - lots of photos that show how just some simple layering can produce a truly sophisticated finished piece.

A Beautiful Mess

Mandi also created this beautiful quilted art, a textural take on abstract art.  I love the wood frames she made for both pieces because they immediately look gallery-ready.

A Beautiful Mess

Recently my Mom and I were pouring over a website, looking at vintage options for some kitchen artwork for her, when she looked at me, wide-eyed, as she remembered, "there's a whole bunch of those photos you took in Hungary that I want to get blown up and framed instead!!".  I have file folders on my computer stuffed with thousands of photos and although I always intend to blow them up and frame them, I usually forget about them once they're in the bowels of my hard-drive.  So here's a reminder: unearth those stunning beach photos or artsy vacation shots, fix them up a bit with a free photo editor like Picmonkey, and frame them for instant art!  Hanging a grouping in a grid, in identical frames, makes the look more artful.  You can thank Kate for this beautiful inspiration:

Centsational Girl
Even easier is enlarging just one photo as an engineering print (Staples can do this) and mounting it on tempered hardboard like Jules did in this tutorial - or building a custom frame for it with this tutorial from Yellow Brick Home.  Yep, I definitely need to pick out some photos to frame (and print for photo albums, something I've neglected for years) because rumor has it Black's Photography is closing up shop in Thunder Bay.  I'm so glad I've put off this task for years :(  Don't be like me: hunker down this winter and get it done!

Joy Shoppe

An app turns photos into "watercolour" masterpieces with the touch of a button!  See Heather's tutorial for all of the details.  Again, a grouping framed in identical frames looks sharp.  

Setting for Four

For something a little more dimensional, Meg's video tutorial demonstrates how to whip up mid-century inspired star-bursts - it's so easy!


I don't think Merrick posted a tutorial of this pretty, graphic piece she created  for her dining room (I couldn't find one) but I think that with a straight edge, some painter's tape, and a few tubes of acrylic paint, this is definitely do-able.  A square canvas is the perfect choice.

Merrick's Art

Here's another take on creating a simple, graphic piece (from Pop Sugar):

Pop Sugar

This paper art is so ingenious, but Patricia's tutorial looks really easy - although I think origami would be a fun alternative, and could be mounted in the same way.  I could totally see luring some girlfriends over on a blustery evening and making something like this - this is especially good for the paint-averse.

A Little Hut

Still using paper as a medium, Carrie created an assortment of beautiful paper pinwheels to adorn her walls and the result looks like an art installation.  Although I love the colourful papers Carrie used - and the vintage, curated over time look her collection has - a more monochromatic colour palette would still look whimsical but just a smidge more modern.

Dream Green DIY

Sometimes it just takes switching up the medium to make something simple seem fresh and new.  Colourful, layered circles painted on sheet music and book pages - dreamed up by Mary - would look great framed in sleek Ikea frames.

Me With My Head in the Clouds

Do you remember those stamps I bought in Hungary?  I've lost and found them about a dozen times since bringing them home, but right now they're safely tucked away, ready for me to finally turn them into something great.  I plan to frame the mod dogs (especially since I tracked down a Komondor on eBay!) but I'm searching for the right frames.  In the meantime, I'm temped to copy and enlarge some of them, like the one I spotted on Desire to Inspire, although this idea isn't limited to stamps - playing cards, ticket stubs, scraps of love letters, etc., would all be contenders for photocopying and enlarging.

Desire to Inspire

Some paint, some brushstrokes.  Spotted on HGTV, this abstract piece proves that as long as it's big, even the simplest composition can be eye catching.  A little texture and a little variation in the intensity of the colour helps too (add a little white, or thin out the paint).    


I have a confession: despite my penchant for all-white walls (and insistence that they're the best), I do love the look of a stenciled or wallpapered room.  Really.  But it just seems like a lot of work, and I know I'll get bored or overwhelmed immediately - I have before!  That's why I love this idea of just stenciling a large "canvas" made of wood planks (although a proper canvas would do too), as seen on The Handmade Home:

The Handmade Home

I don't think that I enjoy the textural trend of woven/hand knotted wall hangings that's really hot right now enough to try to make my own, but seeing the beautiful, fanciful woven wall hangings that artisans create (like this one spotted on One Kings Lane) makes it easy to see why this has become a popular DIY project.  I actually follow a few particularly talented weavers on Instagram, because I find their use of colour and their compositions inspiring, even if I never plan on picking up a piece of yarn.  This winter I'm sure a lot of folks will be hunkering down with a small loom and some Netflix.

One Kings Lane

As much as I think a project like this is very feasible as a DIY project (see here and here), I think that the real artists who create such captivating work (like the weaving below, from Native Line) deserve a little attention.  Wow, just wow.  I'm all for DIY art (and when I say DIY art, I mean DIY "art") because it can be personal and budget-friendly - plus fun and relaxing to make!  But every now and then I feel compelled to recognize the talent of professional artists and humbly back away, in a shuffling manner.

Native Line Store

Although I love looking at woven pieces, like the two photographed above, I felt kind of (okay, really) lukewarm about macrame until I saw this giant wall hanging...

The State of Things

...And the one below, and now I feel the need to implore someone to find a good tutorial (here's a simplified one, and here's another, and another, and another - whoa this is popular) and make this beauty for themselves.  Go big or go home, though. 

Apartment Therapy

When the lakehouse walls inevitably fill up, I'm taking art outside with this clever idea (also by Dana!):

Home Depot

Remember I just intimated that artists are awesome and let's respect them?  Well, now I'm going to admit that borrowing a neat idea crossed my mind this summer.  I very randomly found this delicate painted arrow/feather collage by Britt Bass and thought it was super cute and just quirky enough.  I didn't see them for sale anymore but decided to use this collage as inspiration.  I planned to snag some of the many goose feathers, guinea fowl feathers, and loon feathers littering the lawn and make something similar (maybe dip dye some feathers?) but, alas, I couldn't get my hands on enough that weren't chewed by Szuka.  I'm presenting it as inspiration for a fun collage made from feathers, paper, paint - maybe dye? Foliage?  Go crazy but add some on-trend colours and aim for repetition, not clutter, for a modern piece with some character.

My love affair with my text painting abated but only because I grew tired of the execution.  Linda's angled script in gold is a delicate and elegant version that has me running for the printer again...

Craftaholics Anonymous

This bold, turquoise painting (spotted on Michael Mundy's website) isn't a DIY project (in the sense that there's no tutorial) but it's the perfect inspiration to cap off this collection of tutorials and ideas/suggestions.  Some teal paint and an afternoon, that's all you need.    

I hope you liked this round-up!  I combed the internet for modern and chic, but still playful and easy tutorials and ideas.  Sometimes when I search for "DIY art ideas" I get really overwhelmed with all of the ideas out there - some of them a little too cutesy and craftsy for me.  But if I had the wall space (and time), I'd try each and every one of these ideas.  Now, before I get too ahead of myself dreaming up things to do when the snow falls, it's time to finish some summer projects!  In a toque. 


  1. awesome round up- so much eye candy! I'm going to be working on large scale wood stain piece soon and then I think I might need to hop on the woven wall art train too.

    1. Happy to hear! I'm excited to see your wood stain piece - sounds good!!

  2. Hee! Glad to know I'm not the only one that starts gathering up the lingering spray-painting projects when the first cold snap comes....

    1. Haha, definitely!! But I might be too late - we've had frost some night...

  3. Awesome! So glad to have stumbled onto your site. I feel your pain; we got lots of snow in Southern Alberta. Canadians rock! Thanks for the post!

    1. You have humbled me and my cold weather complaints. I'm so happy we haven't had snow yet!! Yikes. Well, crummy weather or not, Canadians DO rock :)

  4. Tanya, thank you for featuring my painted circles tutorial! I'm honored. :)

    1. It's a beautiful idea! Thanks for letting me share it :)

  5. Love this roundup! I really need to do something creative. I have a large blank canvas and a bunch of paisley block stamps from India...hmmmmm. Feel so rookie though.


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