I recently made some really inexpensive DIY Rothko-inspired cardboard art, using cardboard instead of canvases and reusing old wooden frames. Seriously, these pretty DIY paintings cost only a couple of bucks to make, but they look so cute! These cardboard masterpieces would be fun to make with kids – and you’ll save a bunch of money on art supplies too! Plus you can use any color combos – even leftover wall paint – to create art to complement your decor perfectly.
Remember in this post I suggested stocking up on cheap frames at yard sales? Well, I finally made something out of three, solid wood frames I picked up for 50 cents (in total!) this summer:
Then I applied two, thin coats of leftover pale turquoise paint, using a paintbrush. I like how the wood grain still peaks through but the frame looks refreshed and modern now:
When it came time for the art, I was a total penny-pincher. I had blogged about Rothko-inspired art on cardboard ages ago and figured I’d give it a try! I snagged some very stiff (and clean) cardboard from Costco during a grocery trip (nobody even looked twice at me dragging around a huge 4 foot square sheet of cardboard). I used acrylic paints I had on hand from other projects. But you can even use leftover latex paint from home improvement projects. For brushes, I used a variety (the dollar store is perfect for finding inexpensive brushes) to create bigger and smaller swaths of color. I use an old metal tray from a yard sale as a palette – I’m very cheap when it comes to my art supplies, haha.
Hubby cut my cardboard to fit the frames, and then I applied a base layer of paint. I mixed up a pale pink for the larger one and a pale emerald green for the smaller pair. I set them aside to dry.
Next, I added a few bands of colour to each, keeping my brush strokes moving horizontally and rather loose (no measuring or taping!):
I thought I was done, but they looked a little too bland – a little too pastel. So I added a bright cranberry stripe to the largest one and some rich ochre to the other two. Much better! Contrast is key here. And letting the first layer dry creates a nice crisp look – as opposed to letting the colored blur together. You can make your artwork as layered or as minimalist as you prefer – there are no rules.
To put them in the frames, we positioned them in place and then stapled into the frame, parallel to the cardboard, so instead of piercing the cardboard, each staple runs alongside it, holding it in place. We used this technique for my framed bakelite brooches also.
I am totally surprised by how much I love these. I thought they would look cheesy, but they are actually quite cute. The matte texture and neutral colour of the cardboard really makes the pale colours POP – more than they seem to on white canvas. This cardboard art would be such a cute project for a kid’s room or family gallery wall!
Here’s a closer view of the cardboard art:
P.S. Need I mention that Mark Rothko‘s work was groundbreaking, revolutionary and completely stunning? The simplicity, the scale, the colours . . . all perfection. None of us can really copy his work and there is way more to it than just painting on wonky stripes and making cardboard art, like I did. But I’m a firm believer in the importance of amateurs and hobbyists creating art for the pleasure of it – and I think it’s okay to look at a great painter and be inspired to create something fun.