Easy Abstract Art—Step by Step

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosHi, it's Mandi! Large, textural art can make such a statement in a space, but not all of us are able to purchase original art. So for those of us who aren't art collectors, it's actually not too difficult to make our own abstract art!

I've been wanting to dabble my proverbial and literal brush into abstract painting for so many years, but I've always been really intimidated to give it a try. Finally I gave it a go and even found enough nerve to share it on the Internet! The process was really enjoyable, and I'm already dreaming up my next piece. If you, like me, need your hand held through your first abstract painting attempt, check out the easy step-by-step process I used below.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosFor my paint, I used these heavy-weight acrylic paints in similar hues, blending them together to get specific hues and shades. I used a pre-stretched and primed canvas from an art supply store and applied my paint with a variety of drywall spatulas and one large painter's brush.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosBecause I don't have an easel, I secured my painting to the wall and worked from there. Be careful if you try this, though, because I definitely got paint on the wall and had to touch it up later! For blending my paint, I used a coated masonite board from an art supply store and mixed the paint on it with a drywall spatula. I also applied the paint to the canvas using the same spatula.

You can mix acrylic paint with water to help it spread with less texture build-up. If you are using oil-based paint, each layer may take longer to dry than acrylic, and if you would like to thin it, you will need to use chemical paint thinners to do so.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosTo start my painting, I applied the light magenta paint onto the canvas with a spatula and spread it around with a wide painter's brush. I made sure to get around the edges of the canvas, but didn't worry about painting the sides, because I was planning on framing it when I finished.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosAfter the first coat of pink dried, I mixed more white paint with the light magenta and layered the lighter pink color over the top of the darker, leaving some of the darker paint showing through. I used a spatula for this to drag the paint along the canvas and create some texture.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosAfter the second coat of pink paint was dry, I went over it with undiluted white paint. I applied the goopy paint to the canvas using a really wide drywall spatula so the drags of paint would be even and wide. After covering a lot of the upper part of the canvas, I used a smaller spatula to dabble white paint in lines and smears around the bottom of the canvas to give a little interest over the top of the pink paint.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosAfter the white paint dried, I used the same technique with a wide spatula to apply yellow paint. I mixed the yellow paint with a little bit of light orange to give two tones to the paint before dragging it across the canvas.

When I started this canvas, I really had no idea where this painting was going to go, so I just kept adding layers of paint to it. I figured the more texture the better! Though I did have to run to the store to get more of the orange paint in between coats, because I had run out.

After the first coat of orange paint, I wasn't pleased with how the yellow looked when it showed through. I decided that I wanted more of a bold body of orange, so after the first coat dried, I used a wide spatula to add even more orange over the top of it and softened the edges by stippling them with the wide painter's brush. I also stippled the surface of the orange paint here and there to add more textural interest to the thick paint.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosNext I added more paint over the yellow areas to muddy it a bit more and give it a bolder presence. Then I used the edge of my wide spatula to add more textural white lines in places. The last touch was dragging some lighter orange paint on the upper right corner of the canvas to create a textural square. After dragging the paint, I wiped off my spatula and did another wipe across the orange paint to take away any excess. Then I stopped painting because I was afraid I might mess up the whole thing! So I decided it was finished.

DIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosDIY abstract art— complete with step by step photosI'm much less intimidated to create my own artwork now, after learning how forgiving the process of layering paint can be. Next time I'll probably plan more of how I'd like the finished composition to be, but I don't think it's a bad idea to just go with how you're feeling in the moment and change it up to your heart's content! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Spring and Valentine of the Signature Collection.

Comments - 61
Pin it!

Comments

Thanks for commenting! Comments are moderated (everything constructive is approved), so they may take a bit to appear. We reply to comments daily, so please check back!

The Shop

Check out our Photoshop Actions, E-Courses and new product line!

Browse by Category