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Super Easy Abstract “Art”

This post necessitates a little flashback pic: our old apartment, before we became bona fide homeowners.  Woot.  Recognize the chairs & red bowl?  Still love ’em.

See my painting?

 This seems like so long ago – look how super short my hair was:  

Anyway, what I wanted to blog about was the painting I made.  I favor abstract, mostly because I’m not a good artist.  (But I also choose abstracts willingly when selecting, or just ogling, art from artists who have the mad skills to paint anything).  In any case, the painting I made (in the first pic) has garnered many nods of approval from friends and family, so I thought I’d post about how I did it:

  1. I actually painted over another painting I made, and hated, so you could use a fresh, clean canvas or an acrylic painting you find second hand (added bonus – already framed)
  2. Using a ruler & permanent marker, I mapped out a grid pattern
  3. Then I just painted away (using acrylic-oil takes forever to dry), painting each marked off square a different colour
  4. Try to vary the lights & darks but not too perfectly
Up close and personal with my painting

You might not like the colours I chose (I’m not as in love with them anymore either, so this painting now lives in our to-be-spruced-up basement) but you can choose absolutely any colour combo (like these works by shanuo):



Spookily like mine, but I hadn’t seen this
until working on this post . . . think I have a long lost twin?

Or you could try some less “perfect” squares (I did some less perfect squarish paintings for bedroom, see here) and try something more imperfect like Gareth Bate:


Or maybe more layered, like Oskar Fischinger’s work:


Or maybe just a few big squares, like Josef Albers:


The point, I think, is to have fun and paint something you like.  I don’t pretend to be an artist and I hesitantly call what I make “art,” but “colourful squares painted on canvas for wall decoration” is so verbose, so “art” it is!  I’ve made three paintings for our bedroom (see here) & I also painted the large tree in the office (see here) – plus loads of other paintings that never made it onto a wall! 

Have you painted anything fun recently?



  1. Dana@Mid2Mod
    January 31, 2011 / 4:15 pm

    I love your picture so much that I may actually cover up something I just painted recently! In fact, I prefer yours to the rigid squares of the shanuo paintings. Like you, I think it's great fun to create art for your own home, even if you don't consider yourself a great artist. I have at least one thing I painted/created in every room of the house.

  2. Piroska
    February 1, 2011 / 3:28 am

    I actually like your painting much better than the neater Shanuo ones! It has more texture, and kind of looks like a quilt, plus I love the colours.

  3. Anonymous
    April 15, 2013 / 10:28 pm

    What do you use to tape off your designs…the painter tape on canvas always leaks under the tape for me

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      April 16, 2013 / 1:25 am

      For this painting I actually just used a ruler and permanent marker to make a grid and coloured in the lines. But I have used tape for other art projects. The tricks is to pick a good quality painter's tape and then run something hard (like the handles of a pair of scissors) along the edges to make sure they are really affixed. This post shows how: that helps!

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