Abstract Artwork Tutorial

Image of a wide paint brush a tin of Annie Sloan's chalk pain and the abstract artwork featuring in the background
abstract artwork using interior colour paints

Adorn your walls with this simple tutorial to create your own abstract artwork for your home. This tutorial is simple and fuss free. The best bit? The only cost is your blank canvas (or use an old one to paint over and it becomes cost free!). You also don’t need to feel daunted at finding the right colours for your artwork. By using the existing interior paints used for your home, you ensure a harmonised piece to work with your space. The vibrancy comes from the brushstrokes and use of darker shades on sections of the canvas, allowing for contrast and strength.

Size of Canvas for Abstract Artwork

The size of your canvas is important. For a living space, you want to maximise its impact. Try to choose a canvas that takes up a good part of your blank wall space. For smaller spaces, such as bedrooms, use them to give extra dimension to the room without being overbearing.

For my living space, I chose a canvas that gave the similar proportions to the wall as the couch did to the floor space around that area.

Next, lay out your interior paint colours. Take a look at your interiors and choose the next two dominating colours. You can simply take a photo in natural daylight and take to your local hardware store to match the paint colour. Consider your actual furniture or wood pieces as one of your colour options. If dark wood, it would make a perfect darker shade for certain sections of your canvas.

materials for artwork including obligatory glass of vino

For mine, I used the wall paint (Dulux Antique White) with the chalk paints for the furniture pieces (Annie Sloan’s Old White, French Linen and Paloma), as well as a small amount of black to compliment my display wall with near black shelves and black frames.

I had a great pale gold metallic fabric that I covered my canvas in before painting. This step is not essential, I simply liked the effect of doing so and I had the fabric from a previous job for work.

try covering your canvas in fabric before applying paint

Now, for the painting

Essentially, you are using long brushstrokes both vertically and horizontally. It’s important to get enough paint on your brush to ensure coverage and ability to get some long brushstrokes onto your canvas. I would recommend just enough paint to cover the first third of the brush without dripping. With the first colour, continue with the vertical and horizontal strokes until the canvas is fully covered. You want to use this technique to allow for texture to build up. Whilst it may not be noticeable now, it will show through with the final look. (If using a fabric, cover around two thirds to three quarters of the canvas).

Taking the second lightest shade, continue with your vertical and horizontal brushstrokes over the canvas, focusing on starting from the edges and working inwards. You want to do this for around two thirds of the canvas so that one third remains your lightest shade at the edges. You will start to see a pattern taking shape and be able to identify places to start your next brushstroke.

abstract artwork using vertical and horizontal brushstrokes
abstract artwork using vertical and horizontal brushstrokes
applying several shades of paint colour onto canvas

Continue with this process, lessening your use with each introduced paint colour.

Painting with the Darker Shades

For the darkest two shades, I chose to concentrate on the bottom left hand side of the canvas. I used the French Linen chalk paint all over, but limited the use in the top right hand corner and emphasised the bottom left hand side. When it came to the black, I used sparingly and mostly on the left hand side with only minimal brushstrokes with a small amount of paint on the brush heading up and into the centre to allow for a soft grading of colour.

adding contrast with a dark colour to the bottom lefthand side of canvas

I’m really happy with the result! It only took around an hour to complete. It’s pretty challenging to make a mistake using this method. I highly recommend you give it a go!

abstract artwork hanging in living room
abstract artwork hanging in living room

I’d love to see your own creations, particularly for those of you who have a pop of colour in your decor that can be brought into your artwork.

Enjoy Picassos!


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