DIY Abstract Art for Beginners (Abstract Landscape)

Large scale wall art doesn’t have to be expensive or hard! Learn how to create an abstract landscape on canvas with this DIY abstract art for beginners.

abstract landscape art in blues and greens and reds with gold frame | Maison de Pax

Sometimes bold attempts at something new lead to complete failure (and trust me, I’ve had plenty of those!)… But sometimes those courageous exploits lead to something beautiful. And my recent attempt at DIY abstract art definitely fell into the latter category.

Ever since we remodeled our master bathroom, I’ve been dreaming of an abstract landscape for this one wall above the tub, but I never could find the right one. So naturally, I decided to try making one myself. 😉

freestanding tub in marble bathroom with vintage rug and abstract art | Maison de Pax

DIY Large Art

I’ve always been a fan of one beautiful large piece of wall decor or even 2-3 coordinating ones over lots of little ones (I guess it’s the part of me that loves minimalism), but large art work can be so expensive. So I’m no stranger to DIY wall art… but I’ve never made large abstract wall art before.

I have sometimes opted for affordable vintage or modern art that I can print myself (a budget-friendly art option!), but this time I really wanted an abstract landscape painting on canvas.

And I’m no painter. But here’s the beauty: that means that if I did it, you can do it, too!

HOw to paint abstract landscapes: Timelapse Video

I actually filmed the whole thing in a timelapse video which I shared on Instagram (and you can watch below). But I also wanted to give you some specific tips for creating your own DIY abstract art landscape.

Tips for Abstract Landscape Paintings

1. Use acrylic paint

I would suggest an acrylic painting, rather than an oil painting, because it’s easier to work with water-based paints, and you might even have some already on hand.

And I read somewhere that a cookie sheet with damp paper towels and parchment paper works as a mixing palette for acrylics. I love using things I already have on hand!

2. Start with (some of) the colors you want to end up with

Theoretically, you can make any color of the rainbow from just three primary colors, right? But the reality is that mixing colors is not as easy as it sounds. So I suggest starting with several colors that already have the tones you were trying to reach.

For example, I wanted my painting to complement the rug we have in our master bath, so I pulled together similar blues, greens, pinks, and reds to those in the rug.

colorful vintage rug of Persian origin in marble master bathroom | Maison de Pax
colorful paint palette | Maison de Pax

Fortunately, my stash of acrylic furniture paint included a lot of color options… but you can also find a huge variety of acrylic paint colors at your local craft store.

3. Gather Inspiration

While I would not recommend trying to copy a painting exactly (for several reasons), I absolutely encourage you to browse online or in art books to find some color palettes and overall scenes that are inspiring to you. I found about five that inspired me in one way or another: colors, shapes, texture, and scene.

As I painted, I sometimes referred back to them to ideas of how to mix my colors or shape my clouds, for example.

4. Choose a Simple Scene

Abstract landscape is just that: a landscape (actual nature scene) that is abstract (yay, freedom!). So when gathering inspiration, choose a basic scene you want to paint.

I found lots of paintings of clouds that I loved and others with rivers coming out of the horizon. So I chose that basic scene: a river coming towards the viewer from the horizon line with large billowing clouds above. But you could do a mountain, or a cliff, or a hill with trees… endless possibilities exist, but I suggest you choose something simple before you begin.

5. Create a Dynamic Background

Now you actually get to start painting! Before drawing any shapes or actual scenery, choose a light, neutral color that goes with your palette.

Use a large brush (if your canvas is particularly large, you can even use a 2″ trim brush like I did!). Dampen your brush ever so slightly and mix the chosen neutral color with a little white. Don’t mix them completely; leave the paint swirly and then brush it onto the canvas in broad, random strokes.

woman painting acrylic on canvas | Maison de Pax
dynamic white background for acrylic painting | Maison de Pax

This provides a dynamic background for the rest of your painting to layer on top. Trust me, it helps.

6. Use a main color for outlines first

Since I wanted my painting to have a lot of deep blues, I used my deepest, richest blue to paint the rough outline of the scene: the clouds, the land/horizon, and the river. Just like with the under painting, try mixing two colors together without blending them fully.

7. Layer, Layer, Layer

acrylic abstract landscape painting in progress | Maison de Pax

Once the main shape has been outlined, begin layering in the other colors. Again, mix 2-3 colors together on your brush without fully blending.

Try strokes in all different directions until you like it. Even consider blotting or smoothing with a paper towel if something is too thick or harsh.

abstract landscape with blues, greens, and dusty rose | Maison de Pax
woman blotting acrylic paint from canvas | Maison de Pax

But don’t over blend. Let contrasting colors (like the red) stand out. This was hard for me (as a perfectionist) when I was close up to the painting… but I when I backed up, it was exactly the effect I wanted.

moody landscape painting with dark blue and red | Maison de Pax

8. Frame it Well

There is something noble about canvas artwork in a beautiful frame, isn’t there? If you chose a standard sized canvas, then you could purchase an open frame to match. Or you can DIY a frame (tutorial for this exact frame coming soon!).

framed art canvas above tub | Maison de Pax

Either way, framing the piece will make it look that much more professional.

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  1. So beautiful…all the prep work makes a huge difference. U took the plunge and it worked out just gorgeous. Well done u 😊. Thanku for a great tutorial
    Kaz from Oz

  2. I’d love to haha but it’s that initial ‘ Bloody hell where do I start ‘ thing 😆
    I dabble in a little of everything and in seem to steer away from painting as my other attempts are dismal 😅
    Always our own greatest critics 😑😄
    Sadly I’ve only just discovered Bob Ross…they put his half hour show on over here just recently and omg how good is he and how easy he makes it look. Of course I teatime he’s a professional but he is also a wonderful teacher because it can be easy if u take the time and effort to give it a go. I watch him every afternoon and think ‘right u can do this Kaz’ haha but I havnt as yet! Of course I realize thst abstract is far different but u still manage to lay down a scene that is totally recognizable as a beautiful water and land picture. What amazes me amazesand probably scares the hell outta me is the mixing of the colours. I sit and watch Bob and think how the hell did those colours he mixed make that colour 😨 haha I’ve got a lot to learn but u have to start somewhere 😊
    I’m in the middle of making copper and rusty metal wall hangings at the moment and then on to making a loom for some material and paper bark weaving but I can’t ignore all the oils n acrylics yelling at me from their storagebox under the bench 😅😅
    Maybe one day soon I’ll get them out and have a go.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply 😊 xx

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