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DIY Abstract Art Acrylic Painting

Updated: May 22

Add your own piece of art to your gallery wall with this easy DIY abstract painting. Here is a step by step guide to creating your own abstract wall art acrylic painting.

1.) Find your canvas paper

The first step to creating this painting is to get an 11"x14" mixed media paper palette that handles acrylic paint. You can get this here on Amazon. The key to this paper, is that it is slightly thicker than most paper, and can hold heavier paint. You can also use thin canvas board. Artkey makes an excellent canvas panel as well. Here is a link to a 12 pack of 11"x14" canvas panels from Artkey on Amazon. The thing I love most about these boards is that they are no-fuss and you don't have to worry about adding gesso (a primer for canvas) they already come ready to use and paint. For this video though I chose to use a mixed media paper, and mounted it to an 11"x14" matte board once I was done with the painting.

2.) Mount your canvas paper to a hard surface

Once you have your paper or canvas board, you want to measure a 1" boarder around the outside of the paper. Use a ruler and a pencil to draw an outline to create a border. Now you will need a hard surface to tape this paper or canvas to. You can use a piece of mdf board, or a piece of plywood. Whatever creates a hard surface. Ideally you can use an art easel to place your board and paper on or you can place a large rag towel on the floor and prop up your piece of wood or mdf against a wall if you do not have an easel to work with.

Next you will want to use blue painters tape and tape the paper or canvas board to your piece of wood. Use the border you drew as a guide where to place your tape.

3.) Prime your paper

Most mixed media papers or canvas boards will come primed with gesso and ready to go, however, if not, make sure to add a layer of gesso to your mixed media paper or canvas board and let it dry. This helps to hold the pigment better and adds texture so that the surface can hold and absorb the paint correctly.

4.) Draw your outline

Once you have your paper or canvas board prepped and dried, you are ready to draw your outline. ( pro-tip! If you want your paint to dry faster, use a hair dryer ) There is no right or wrong way to draw your outline. I went with circles and simple geometric shapes, but you could use a variety of shapes. Have them intersect and intertwine on the paper to create blocks where you can add pattern and color.

5.) Identify your color palette

Once you have your outline, now you need to decide the color palette you want to choose. I decided that I wanted a soft pink, a dark wine, a dark green, dark gold/yellow and some black and white prints. The color of paints that I chose for this painting are:

  • Titanium White,

  • Mars Black,

  • Dioxazine Purple, Napthol Red & a little Neon Violet-- mixed for the Wine color

  • Add white to the above combination to make the pink color

  • Prussian Blue Hue & Phthalo Green mixed together for the dark green color

  • Phthalo Green & Old Gold mixed with a toothbrush for the light green color

  • Cadmium Yellow, Raw Sienna, & Old Gold for the mustardy gold color. You can use what I created here or you can use your own color palette. The key is you want to mix both color and patterns together. Get creative, and plan out which shapes will be which colors. If you need to purchase some acrylic paints, my personal favorite brand is Golden. I use their heavy body acrylics. They are a superior well known brand with high pigment, so a little goes a long ways. I also LOVE their gloss glazing liquid. It thins out the paint to the right consistency and allows your paint to go a lot further. It also dries with an exceptional finish. You can purchase golden paints at pretty much any arts and crafts store, but Amazon has some great sets that give you the majority of the paints you need and also the glazing liquid. You can find that set here on Amazon.

The other thing you may need with this project is an art palette to mix your paints. If you don't paint a ton, then you can mix each color into separate small plastic cups, or if you want to invest in a paint palette, I recommend that you get a paint palette pad for mixing. They are awesome!! It allows for super easy cleanup! You can find a good one here on Amazon.

Also, don't forget a small spray bottle of water. If your paints start to get a little dry, hit them with a spray of water and that should keep the paint wet until you are ready to use it.

6.) Paint your shapes

Once you have your colors mixed to their desired shades, you are now ready to start painting. I used a variety of sizes of the Princeton brand paint brushes. Their catalyst brand is my absolute favorite. You can find them here. I used a flat tip and filbert to fill in the shapes, and then went back in with a small sized 6 round brush to clean up the outlines.

Start with one color at a time. fill in the shapes loosely first, and then when you add another layer, clean up the outlines. I would add as many layers as needed to produced the desired opacity to each section of paint. When you use the glazing liquid it will thin out the paint and create a slight transparency to the paint so keep that in mind.

7.) Add your patterns

Once you have your colors filled in, now you can add your patterns. For this painting I went with a couple different black and white tiny polka dot patterns, and a larger black and white leopard print looking pattern. For the green pattern, I dipped an old toothbrush into both the green and the gold and dabbed the brush onto the painting. Use a small damp towel and clean up your lines if you need to. For the polka dots, I used a small round brush and just a touch of paint on the end of the brush. Be methodical and patient, and try to develop a consistent pattern when making your polka dots. For the leopard stripes over the gold, I used a small round brush and used very small alternating strokes. for the pink starburst on the bottom, I used the darker shade of wine and dipped the edge of a small piece of card stock that was cut to the size of the radius of the circle. I then went back in with a little bit of white paint on my round brush to smooth it all out.

There are a lot of ways to add pattern. If you are a more experienced artist, you may decide to just paint them in. If you want to use a paint stamp you can do that too. think of pencil erasers, pen tips, a tiny sponge. Anything you can dip in paint to create texture is fair game. You can have fun with this and experiment! How about the bottom of a can of soda? Or what about a leaf of a plant? What if you were to drag a fork or small comb through the paint? There are endless possibilities to what you can come up with. Experiment and have fun with this!

8.) Clean up any last details

Once you have your patterns painted in you should pretty much be finished with your painting. I use a hair dryer when I am in a hurry and want to make the process faster. I also sometimes use this to speed up the dry time in between layers. ( I know this is probably in a no no in the art community, but I haven't found this to compromise my art in the past ).

Once your painting is dry, you can gently peel off your painters tape. I wanted to make a black border around this piece of art, so I retaped the outlines and painted black around the exterior. Again, I used a hair dryer to make my life easier. Just be very gentle when you pull off the tape.

9.) Mount your work and add a glossy finish

If you used a canvas board, you can skip this step, but if you used a mixed media paper there is a chance that your paper did not hold its shape as the paint dried. In this case, no need to worry. All you need to do is use a matte gel medium and paint it on the back of your print. Gently adhere your print to an 11"x14" matte board. You can buy matte board at any craft store, or you can buy online here. Once you have your painting adhered to your matte board, you will want to take a towel and place it over the top of your art, and use a small rolling pin or a small photo brayer to roll out the painting to evenly adhere to the back of your matte board. You can also place something heavy over the top to let your painting dry.

Once your painting is adhered to your matte board and dry you can add a gloss or matte protective finish, I love to use the Liquitex basics glossy varnish. This creates a perfect and beautiful glossy finish to the surface of your painting. I just apply this with a disposable foam paint applicator.

10.) Frame your work & hang on your wall

Once your masterpiece is complete you are ready to frame. I used a vintage gold colored frame that I bought from Hobby Lobby, but there are so many varieties out there. Choose what speaks to you and the piece of art you created. Add your piece to your Art Gallery Wall, or to a small quaint space in your home. This DIY art project is a great opportunity to incorporate your own creativity and style into your space.

I hope you enjoyed this DIY tutorial. If you created your own piece of art, I would love to see it. Email me photos of your work at for a chance to be featured on Instagram! Happy Painting!!

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