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April 5, 2016

DIY Abstract Wall Art

cheap wall art

Hey guys! I have a really easy wall art idea for you today, but before we get started, I just wanted to thank everyone who came to follow me on Instagram after my bathroom makeover post. I usually post over there about once a week, and even though most of my posts these days tend to be about my personal life rather than my creative life, I still love having the chance to interact with you on a regular basis. 

 I haven't had much creative energy since Ava was born, but as she gets older and I get a better grasp on this mommy thing, I'm slowly finding more time to get back to the things I love doing 
(outside of being a mom, of course).

Granted, this only happens after Ava goes to bed at night, and I usually end up in a ball on my sofa, covering my head with a blanket, and occasionally emerging to tell Netflix that yes, I am still watching. 

So, yes, I want to be a sloth 90% of the time when Ava is asleep, but we are making progress here. There's a full 10% of the time when I am back to being a functional, driven, creative, has-plucked-her-eyebrows, person. 

A few weeks ago, I was staring at the painting in my living room (the questionable one I recently did), feeling productive, and was finally able to admit to myself that it was not good. I think I already deep down knew that, but sometimes you spend HOURS making something and you let yourself sit in denial for a few months, just being mildly annoyed everytime you see the thing.
So, this weekend, I finally harnessed my 10% self and fixed it.

I'm really so happy with this painting, and my feelings were totally validated when Jesse asked me to please not paint over it. 
You'll understand way more about this than you could ever want to know in just a minute. Please hold.

 He seems to like everything I do, or at least trusts my vision enough to let me hash it out over time, but he's never told me that before. He probably doesn't even remember that moment, but I definitely do. 

So, here are some pictures.

wall art

I have swapped out the pink pillows in my living room for blue and gray ones, and I think the pops of color in the painting really play nice with the new scheme.

wall art

I'm a recovering compulsive pillow swapper. This is only my second pillow swap in two years, and it feels like I should definitely acknowledge this progress with at least a mention.
If we're being honest, I think I just had bigger fish to fry with the whole basement renovation, flooring redo, and scary pregnancy, and so pillows were my last thought. I still love those pink pillows though, and will be hoarding them for the future.
I just linked to 500 things, I'm sorry. It seemed relevant.

cheap decor ideas

That silver frame was made by Jesse. It's just some cheap wood from Home Depot, a few brackets, and then I spray painted the frame with some silver spray paint. I think framing whatever you make really takes it up a notch, and I'm thankful that Jesse can be my amateur woodworker for these projects. Because you know I'm not even gonna pretend like I have any skills in that department. 
One of these days, I'll learn, for sure, but let's be honest, if you have someone that will help you with certain things, rarely do you learn to do those things for yourself. 
It's a blessing and a curse.

wall art ideas

On another random note, I took the painting down yesterday to put the final clear coat on it, and I had it sitting in the dining room, just leaning against the wainscotting.
And I thought to myself, hmmmm....this painting looks good in here, too.
I've always had that ornate thrift store mirror hung in here, and I like it, but after seeing the painting in here, it made me think I should start working on some art for in there, too. 

cheap wall art

I hung it up in the dining room for a few minutes, just to see what it looked like in there.

cheap wall art ideas

And I loved it in there, too. Ugh, the dilemma.

cheap decor ideas renovation

cheap wall art

Ultimately, I think I've decided I want it in the living room, but in the process of moving it around, I've decided to play around with making a different painting for the dining room...maybe slightly larger and hung horizontally.
Such tantalizing details, I know.

So, before we get to the tutorial, a few thoughts. 
After I posted a sneak peek of this painting on Instagram the other night, comments popped up with ya'll saying you've tried to paint something before and it turned out looking not so good. I totally get it. It feels a bit defeating, right? I have been a terrible artist for 99% of my life, and will probably continue to make some not so good stuff. 
That's how it works.

Some stuff I've learned in my repeated attempts to make something I can actually hang on my wall without feeling a deep sense of decor shame:
I make my worst art when I'm being timid and scared and feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. I do so much better when I just have fun and remind myself that it doesn't have to be perfect (or even good) to be worth my time.
You probably won't like the first piece of art you make, or if you're like me, the first twenty.
It might take you a few tries to stop being an art monster.

Another thing? Don't be afraid to mess up for fear of ruining your nice, new canvas. Just so you know, the painting in this post has been painted over at least 10 times. And after doing a deep dive on my computer, I've found the photographic proof for you. It's definitely embarrassing, and definitely worth sharing. A wounded ego is never a bad thing.

So, here is this same painting, from its inception.
Brace yourself.

My first attempt, actually not too bad in retrospect. But, it's funny because I hated it and ended up making about 10 worse things in an effort to fix it.

I popped a thrift store frame on it at some point. 
And did whatever else is happening here.

No comment on this one.

In retrospect, I kinda love this next one. 
It was like the eye of the storm.
Mental note: Recreate this later.

Then, I made this thing for my 'living room of tan', circa 2010.

And then this thing.
I'm not mad about it. It was just misguided in its color scheme and flower breed.

And then, I felt a need to create some little art sidecars. 
Slow clap.

And then chevron was a thing. 

And then I think I got really tired and quit messing with this canvas for a couple years. I did tons of other art in those couple years, but I worked on different canvases, smaller ones. And then after our house was renovated and I cleaned out all the closets, I found this canvas covered in dust and decided to try again rather than throw it away. Plus, I think my style just evolved. Things just happen that way, I suppose.

So, that's when I created this.
I like this one, you can tell my continued efforts were definitely starting to pay off, but it just wasn't 'there' yet.

And then I made it worse and made the big blob that occupied my living room for a few months. Not bad, but just kinda eh.

And that brings us to today. 
I think it's finally 'there'. :)

wall art

wall art diy

 It's such an awkward feeling to pull the curtain back on myself, but I think it's so very worth it. I hope it helps calm some of your fears about 'just not being good enough', and mostly, I hope it encourages you to keep trying.

Onto the tutorial...

Here are the supplies I used.

make art

I used a canvas. I think we've addressed that.

I bought a cheap assortment of artist's brushes. I've since bought a few nicer ones, and I'll be honest, the nice ones are better. But you can do just fine with the cheap ones. I also use my Wooster brush (affiliate link) that I use for one million other home improvement projects. This is ridiculous, probably, but it works great for blending and making big, chunky strokes.

I bought the big pack of BASICS Acrylic Paint (affiliate link). It gives you every color under the sun, and is great for when you are just getting started and learning how to mix colors. I suggest buying an extra couple tubes of plain white and plain black, as you will run out of those in the little tubes really quick.

Then, my magic ingredient is usually some sort of metallic paint or gold leaf. You might remember my gold leaf paintings. For this painting, I decided to try something different and I used the Martha Stewart metallic glaze silver paint. It's really thin, and sometimes I mixed it in with my other paints to make them shimmery, and sometimes I just slap big chunks of it on the canvas. 
Do what you gotta do.

So, here's what I started with, the blob painting.
 There are no rules when it comes to abstract painting. That's the beauty of it. There are things that tend to help though, and sometimes I find that doodling some shapes out with a pencil on your canvas can help you get started. Or you can paint a giant doodle and hang it in your living room and stare at it, annoyed, for several months. 
Your call.

Next, I get a few paper plates out and pick a few paint colors that I want to focus on. I decided to stick with just a few colors this time: yellow, orange, blue, purple, and pink. I squirted some of these colors onto my paper plate and played around with them, mixing in some white and black and deciding which ones I liked best. 
Once you figure out what colors you like, make a paper plate with some bigger mixtures of those colors.

Then, start applying some paint in big swatches. I find that sometimes layering the similar colors next to each other creates a nice visual effect. For example, paint a yellow base, then smudge in some orange over top. Then, when you're done, work in a complementary color nearby, like up near the top of the painting where I added some purple next to the orange.

Really, just go to town with some paint swatches all over your canvas. It almost doesn't matter. The piece will come together more in the next step.

My final step is to work some white (and light gray) into the painting. I start from the edges and work my way in. I usually do this part before I let my first layer of paint dry, as that allows me to blend with the colors. I add some metallic paint at the very end.

And that's really it. It's not an exact science, so this is a weird thing to share a tutorial about. But, I know that seeing the inner workings, step by step, is so helpful for me when I feel intimidated by something. 
And I hope this post helps you guys in that way, too.

wall art ideas

A few last things before I wrap up this post, I went into my living room and took a real life picture for you. There it hangs, in all its glory, surrounded by baby junk and chaos...just as it should be.

Because it just feels so much better to be like, I have a pack 'n' play in my living room. It's a phase I'm in.
Because I know so many of you understand.

And last but not least, here's a pic of Ava at Easter brunch with her daddy. 
She says daddy at least 10 times a day right now. 

And here she is with her favorite toy, the remote. 

Thanks for being here, ya'll.

wall art ideas

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  1. Love reading your blog as I find its one of the few in the world of the internet that is genuine and keeps it real. No crazy styled photos or just-for-the-blog posts. Keep at it!!

    1. That seriously means so much to me. Thanks, Hira.

    2. Such a nice, delicate, colorfull picture! It reminds me Paris after summer rain!:)

  2. So nice to see a post from you. Love the painting. You nailed it this time. And Ava....what a cutie!

  3. It looks great!!!! I love the simplicity of your style, your hubby should come
    Talk to mine about "being cool" with letting their wife take the reins!

  4. Where did you get the darker blue pillows with the studs on the edges??

  5. No matter how long you take in between posts you'll forever be my fav blogger! I always, always do a happy dance when I see a new post from you and even more so when I see pictures of your adorable little girl! Keep up all the hard mommying work and enjoy this stage! I'll just be here waiting :)

    1. Emily!! Getting a bit teary eyed over your comment. Thank you. So, so much. xo

  6. I don't think I've ever commented but I found your blog a while back and ended up reading from the beginning. It's become one of my favorites! I really love that painting and might have to give it a try.

    ...and now I'm craving Tupelo Honey Cafe ;) Not even a little bit ashamed that I recognized the menus immediately!

  7. Such a cute smiley face on that sweet Ava! I am having another girl in July, my last one was born 10 yrs ago and those fabulous turban headbands werent availabke then. Oh I love them! And I think its awesome that you painted over that canvas that many times!! I have 2 tall canvases that I painted twice I know when they annoy me again there is no limit. I bet all that paintingg makes your piece look textured and artsy anyway. Love this last rendition

  8. I absolutely LOVE your blog!!!!You are amazing and a true inspiration to other moms and of course DIYer's/home decor fanatics, like myself. :) Get it Girl!

  9. I LOVE this painting! And that frame. I do a lot of painting to fill up the blank spaces on our walls, but they never come out quite this well. And I never think to frame them myself! But now you've got me thinking...

  10. Always eager to read a new post from you, I always end up mentioning a project from your blog to my friends when I discuss decorating - I just love your style! And Ava is just adorable, he sure looks proud of her. =) Don't worry about blogging, you don't want to miss one moment of her, we'll still be around. ;)

  11. Ok, this is SO much better than my "bleeding sun" attempt (for some laughs here:

    I know you placed it in the living room but O M G, I loved the bigger one in the dining room! It's a fantastic abstract painting, you really rocked it.

    Spent several minutes admiring the other masterpieces you made before. Really good stuff, I don't understand why you downplay them. They were pretty darn good art.

  12. I, too, love your posts.
    Ava is adorable.........absolutely!
    Enjoy..........she is precious.
    & Enjoy your husband too........
    These are wonderful times.

  13. Another great post! You've inspired me to dig out my old canvases. As always, Ava is ADORABLE! Thanks for sharing her smile with us!!!


  14. I really liked seeing the history of your painting evolution. I am so impressed with your mad paintin' skillz! This is by far one of my favorites posts. I like it in the dining room more.

  15. LOVE! Thanks for the tutorial, it really helps!!!

  16. I get excited when I see one of your posts in my email! I continue to be amazed by your DIY paintings...even when they are fails. I wouldn't even know where to start and I am sure it would turn out as a big blob of paint that would go to the dump! I cant wait to see what you do next and miss Ava is just the cutest thing!

  17. I just want to say, this is a BEAUTIFUL work of art. You are so talented!! You inspire me to make room for painting in my life again.

    Thank you for being a total and complete inspiration! <3

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! That's such a sweet comment. xo

  18. Loved this one a bunch, Virginia! Your little girl is adorable! Thank you for sharing your creative life with us, and I love USA rugs and always go there for rugs now!

  19. Best post ever. It helped me tremendously, gave me confidence and made me laugh out loud. Thank you!!!!!

  20. I love reading your blog because the only thing better than your sense of style is your writing voice. You find reasons to smile in any situation.

  21. Love the tutorial and how you are always so genuine with our readers! Thanks for keeping it so real! Ava is toooo cute and btw are those new sofas? Love them!

  22. You make me laugh so hard. Our lives couldn't be more different but your tone is so refreshing and authentic that I always look forward to reading your next post. Don't stop!

  23. One thing I really love about your blog is that you only post when you have something to share. I even appreciate the updates when your projects slowed down. So many other bloggers post too much fluff and sponsored posts, just to have frequent is offputting at times. Anyway, I think your blog is great! I love your projects, and your family is adorable!

  24. Love you blog! Been reading for awhile now but had a gap of no reading (so sorry!) due to kids. Not sure if you mentiond it but where is your living room rug from?

  25. I just love your blog! I found it a few weeks ago, and I've been slowing working through all your great posts. I have two little ones, so I read it just a post at a time. Thank you, girl! You inspire me, and you are so frickin funny! I completely sympathize with kid stuff all over everything, and I REALLY appreciate you being honest and including real life photos. It takes bravery to show the evolution of self, and you have that. Major props to you! Thanks for sharing so much of your self, life and home. You are an amazing person. I know I'm a total stranger on the internet, but you truly have touched my heart and encouraged me both as a budget-decorator-slash-tired-mom. :)


Thanks so much for leaving a comment!! I do the hammer dance every time I read one.

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