When I was given two large, quite ugly canvases recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them – paint over the top and start again! I had visions of some stunning oil painting that I could just whip up, but in the end I went for a simple DIY abstract canvas art. I used nothing but paint samples from our recent room renovations (you can read about them here, here and here), and a couple of tubes of acrylic that I bought from The Works (a discount book and art supplies store) for £3. I now have two enormous canvases which both look quite professional (if I do say so myself) that fill a wall beautifully, and it only took me half an hour per painting (well, for the abstract part of it – it took a couple of coats of white wall paint before I could start).
I’m always seeing people selling big ugly canvas prints on eBay, Craigslist or local Facebook selling groups, usually for only a couple of pounds, so I think this is the kind of DIY that anyone can do really cheaply. If you can’t find one for sale, you could buy a blank canvas (I recommend The Works for inexpensive ones and supplies – they usually have more single canvases in store than they seem to on their website), or it may even be cheaper to buy a printed one and paint over it.
Here is how the canvases looked when I was given them. Not really my style, or colour scheme. Dandelions I think?
DIY Abstract Canvas Art: Step by Step Guide
Taking full advantage of the fact that we were painting in the other spare room and it was fully drop-clothed, I laid down both canvases and went over the top with the paint roller with some white emulsion. I also used a paintbrush to paint the sides. It needed two coats before the ugly dandelions had gone.
Gather 4-5 paint colours which are complimentary. For the pink one, I simply used the selection of paint samples I had when deciding the colours for the walls (ignore the green one!), with the addition of some gold leaf paint (I literally love this stuff and even though I use it for everything the bottle is still practically full). For the bronzey coloured one, I bought a couple of acrylics, along with one I already owned. I used the same paintbrush we’d been using for our renovations.
Working quite quickly, so the paint doesn’t dry, start with the lightest colour first, and squeeze a line of paint across the canvas in a couple of places, and blend it in. (Warning: Do not use too much paint so it is thick on the canvas – you want to spread it until it is barely there. On my pink one a central stripe of pink was too thick and the surface has since cracked.) You can be as haphazard as you like, it seems to turn out nice whatever! Move on to the next lightest and repeat, and then the third. Finally, fill in the gaps with your darker colour, so you essentially have a striped canvas.
The fun part. Now put a little of one colour onto your brush, and work it over the top of one of the others. Always keep your brush strokes horizontal, but you can blend up and down into the other stripes for a fun effect. Use your darkest colour over the lightest patches, the lightest over the darkest, and everything in between, until you are happy with how it looks.
If using gold leaf, wait until your painting is thoroughly dry, before using a clean, dry paintbrush to drybrush it onto patches on top of your paint.
Pour yourself a well-deserved glass of wine, step back and admire your artwork!
(I actually did do that, had some new wine glasses I was eager to try!)
So there you have it – an easy, quick abstract canvas, and the results look like you paid an artist quite a bit for it (well, I like to think so)! I absolutely love the bronze one in my dining room, as my dresser has lots of cream crockery and bronze and copper accessories, so it really goes with the mixed metals. Excuse the lighting – it was night and our chandelier throws some rather strange shadows! All accessories on the shelf except the candle holder (Sainsburys) are from HomeSense where I had a little spree recently. You can see that despite my decor efforts, the dining room still needs major renovation as the ugly textured wallpaper is still there. A job for another day though.
The pink one looks great in the spare bedroom, except that I have realised I don’t like the pink/grey combo. Eek! So the pink is going, which means I have a canvas going spare…or perhaps I’ll just paint over it again!
What do you think? Are you tempted to give it a try? Here’s a Pinterest-friendly image in case you want to save it for another day: