Introduction: Abstract Painting Tutorial
We both grew up with art as an important part in our lives and love that when we want to change up our walls we can grab a canvas, brush some paint on it, and have instant new art. But if you’re not super comfortable with a paintbrush in your hand, that can be kind of intimidating. So we set out to create an abstract painting tutorial that you can do even if you don’t consider yourself a painter. As proof, we convinced my mom (who doesn’t paint) to give it a try and see if she could follow along. Results = success!
We used acrylic paint (which we think is the easiest paint to work with) in just two colors, and topped it off with shiny copper tape that adds an instant geometric punch. We are super excited for you guys to try your hand at painting too!
This video covers everything step by step (it really helps to watch Evan’s brush in motion), and we’ll go into even more detail below.
- Canvas (we used 11″ x 14″) – our favorite brand – economy brand
- Titanium White acrylic paint
- Payne’s Gray acrylic paint
- Brushes: one 1″ or number 12 brush should work, but a set including this brush costs just a dollar more…
- Copper tape (but you could also get silver or gold!)
- A water jar
- Something to mix in
- Something to cover your table with (paper towels, cardboard, etc…)
Step 1: Wet Canvas
The first step is to brush water across your canvas. The water is going to help the paint blend. If the canvas is dry, it tries to grip onto the paint and makes everything less smooth. You just want a very thin layer of water (the canvas should glisten but there shouldn’t be any pooling).
Step 2: Add Background
We’re going to use just two colors in this tutorial: Titanium White and Payne’s Gray. You could easily swap these around (white and blush would be really pretty too, or white and teal).
Get mostly white on your brush and just a little bit of gray. You don’t want to mix them too much because you’ll just end up with a really light gray. Instead, you want white with streaks of grayish blue to end up on your canvas. So get both on the brush without mixing them.
At this point, do all vertical up and down strokes until everything looks smooth and you have some nice blue striation mixed into the white.
Step 3: Add Variation
Next we are going to add some variation in the form of left and right strokes, stronger concentrations of gray, and stronger concentrations of white. We like an asymmetrical look, so we are going to add some darker gray areas in the bottom right, top left, and bottom left.
We mix in some horizontal strokes with our vertical strokes by cross-hatching them so that not all the brush strokes are going in the same direction.
And then we blend these additional marks so there aren’t hard edges (this is personal preference, you can leave it less blended if you prefer it that way). When you apply color you should hold your brush at about a 45 degree angle, but when you blend you should hold it much lower, about a 20-30 degree angle. Make your brush strokes very light handed, letting the weight of the brush pull the paint but not really applying too much extra force on top of that.
The blending step is much easier to understand in video form. The good news is, there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. If you look at Evan’s painting and Katelyn's mom’s painting, they both look a little different and it’s totally ok.
Step 4: Add Copper Tape
After letting it fully dry (we wait a couple hours), you’re going to add the copper tape. First we drew out a few different patterns that we could lay our tape in. We recommend doing this to decide on your tape pattern before you actually place your tape.
Again, there’s not really a wrong way to do this. We tried like 20 options and I think any of them would have worked. We will say for this more minimalist look, 3-5 lines probably works best.
To apply the copper tape, first unroll and cut off the amount you need, leaving a little extra on each end to wrap around the edges of your canvas. The cut off piece wants to curl, so we straightened it by bending it against the direction it wanted to curl. Remove the backing carefully so that it does not stick to itself, and pull tightly (but not so tight you break it!) across your canvas. Press down onto your canvas and wrap the tape around the edges.
And you’re done!
Step 5: Enjoy!
The reason this works so well as abstract art, even for beginners, is that the copper tape is what your eye focuses on and the painting acts as a backdrop for that. So even if you’re not super confident in your painting skills, don’t worry, it won’t be the main focus. Heck, you could even just do a solid color backdrop.
So please give this a try and let us know how it goes! We’d love to see how it turns out, so tag us on Instagram if you end up posting pics!
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