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DIY Abstract Art Tutorial with Step by Step Photos + Instructions

I have such a fun DIY abstract art tutorial, with step by step photos and instructions, to show you!  You might have guessed, I really enjoy painting.  One day, in high school art class – which I cannot believe was 10 years ago – I was working with such vim and vigor on a painting (the black tree in the office, actually) that in addition to getting paint in my hair, on my glasses, on my school uniform and up my nose, I totally demolished the delicate watercolour of the girl next to me with my crazy over spray of paint.  I thought “good artists” painted with “flair” (which to 18 year old me meant flailing arms).  After the “incident” I was sent to paint alone in a small, windowless supply room, where I splashed around and got 98% for my final mark (high marks for enthusiasm, plus Handy Hubby – who was Buildy Boyfriend then – made custom stretchers and frames for all of my work).   I LOVED art class because it was scheduled time to create – such a luxury that I took for granted.  I highly recommend painting as stress relief and a creative outlet, but a lot of readers have expressed some hesitation about getting started.  I think once you get started, you’ll quickly and easily develop your own style and compose a beautiful abstract without even thinking about it!

To get you started, here’s a look at how a recent painting I made involved.  Hopefully these step by step photos and abstract art tutorial (I use the word loosely, lol) will inspire you to pick up a brush and have some fun painting!

Step by step tutorial for DIY abstract

How to make a DIY abstract painting:

To achieve a loose, drippy look, I started with a dry brush and acrylic paint and then used a plant mister filled with water to spray the paint after I applied it to the canvas.  It gave me more control than a wet brush and kept things looking kind of light and watery.

Achieve a drippy paint lookDIY art ideas

Then I just kept working at it, applying paint where I saw fit.  (And trying not to douse the whole room in paint.)  Here are a few full size photos from the progress collage:

Art you can make with the kids

I worked my way around the canvas, layering on more color.  As some areas dried, I could layer paint and have colors peeking through from beneath.  In other spots, I didn’t let the paint dry so the colors are more sheer and blend together more.  Basically, I played!

Easy art ideas

As a last step, I added some black and white paint in sharper lines to contrast the softness.  

Make your own art

It was an experiment and – most important – a ton of fun!

Creative ways to de-stress

Don’t worry if you don’t like your result – it is easy to paint over acrylic paint.  Remember how I tweaked the bedroom triptych and then totally fell in love with version 2?  I also reworked this geographic painting (details soon). 

Easy DIY Abstract Art Tutorial with Step by Step Instructions with Photos
I hope you liked this DIY abstract art tutorial.  And I hope that you try making a DIY painting – you won’t be disappointed!  P.S. This abstract art tutorial was featured by Domino & In Style!



  1. modern jane
    October 4, 2012 / 12:18 pm

    Best post ever! I love doing abstract art but need help with the layering.. thanks for for the spray bottle tip!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 4, 2012 / 6:21 pm

      I don't always use my paint so wet, but it resulted in something a little more watercolour-y. Normally, I let a layer dry and when I apply another layer, the first layer peeks through. Acrylic paint is really forgiving and likes to be layered. Good luck painting!!

  2. Brittany S.
    October 4, 2012 / 1:53 pm

    What a beautiful painting Tanya! I recently just finished an abstract(ish) landscape painting, but other than that, I have had no time to paint. BUT I am moving in 2 weeks which means I have to paint an entire house… that might put me off painting all together for a few months! lol

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 4, 2012 / 6:27 pm

      You definitely sound crazy busy!! I'm sure in your new pad, once the walls are done, you'll be able to paint some awesome new pieces. You have some serious painting talent!!

  3. Jae
    October 4, 2012 / 1:55 pm

    Inspiring. I am excited because I have been wanting to do your black&white abstract painting. On a recent outing to Goodwill I found a 24in x 36in painting (that someone else did) and bought it to reuse the canvas. I can't wait to see how my version turns out.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 4, 2012 / 6:26 pm

      Oooo, I can't wait to see your version either!! Please share photos, I'd love to feature them!

  4. Designwali
    October 4, 2012 / 2:30 pm

    umm…amazing. i wish i had that kind of talent

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 4, 2012 / 6:25 pm

      It is all an odds game, lol. I paint SO much that a few are bound to look okay. And if not, I keep painting until they do! I think anyone can do the kind of abstract painting I do – I promise!

  5. Hena Tayeb
    October 4, 2012 / 3:15 pm

    It looks great.. abstracts are always so much fun and freeing.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 4, 2012 / 6:25 pm

      Thanks so much! I agree – abstracts are fun to do AND look at!

  6. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication
    October 4, 2012 / 8:43 pm

    Your abstracts are gorgeous Tanya!! I absolutely love them!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 5, 2012 / 6:30 pm

      Awww, thanks! Making them is a big stress reliever!

  7. Dana@Mid2Mod
    October 4, 2012 / 10:11 pm

    Love the colors in your latest piece! I whipped out a couple for my dining room when I was redecorating. I actually painted over some older pieces that didn't fit what I was doing anymore. I guess I need to add them to my DIY board on Pinterist.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 5, 2012 / 6:31 pm

      Definitely pin them! Although I can't see Pinterest here, for some sad reason. I will have to take a closer look at the revamped house tour (which looks so good – I just was logged into my other google account when I spied it, so didn't comment).

  8. How2home
    October 5, 2012 / 2:16 pm

    This is an awesome tutorial Tanya ! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 5, 2012 / 6:31 pm

      Oh my gosh it's Thanksgiving?!? I totally forgot! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!

  9. PinkTulip
    October 5, 2012 / 11:05 pm

    I love it!!!!

  10. PinkTulip
    October 5, 2012 / 11:05 pm

    I love it!!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      October 6, 2012 / 8:05 am

      Thank you.Thank you.;)You always leave such sweet comments!

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