Recently I was in need of some large and beautiful wall art for the photo shoot of the English Colonial home I designed in Los Feliz.  I explained during the house tour that my clients were a young couple wanting to build a serious art collection over time, so they preferred not to buy any "placeholder" art during our design process.  All well and good, except that left us with bare naked walls when it came time for the photo shoot. Not so good.

:my DIY abstract art technique: 

So I had to come up with some DIY wall art that would look high quality and amazing in that gorgeous home amongst all the luxe furniture we'd filled it with.  This is what I came up with for the master bedroom...

I really love the way these turned out, and in fact I've hung one of them in my living room already!  So here's what's up with making your own DIY abstract art.   I'm not gonna lie and tell you it's the easiest thing in the world to make truly polished, good looking DIY wall art, but if you stay within some basic parameters,  it's totally doable.  

:DIY abstract art "rules": 
There actually are no "rules" in art.  But if you want to know some parameters that will help you create tasteful-looking modern art that doesn't scream "DIY", here they are.

1)limit your palette (use only one or two paint colors and don't blend or mix them. Black on neutral always looks crisp and classic.)

2)keep it simple (leave plenty of unpainted "negative space" on the canvas or paper.)

3)get inspired (do searches on Pinterest and google.  I take a lot of inspiration from simple, monochromatic abstract modern art.)

My muse pieces were "Circles" and "Squares" from the Peter Dunham collection (sheesh I feel like he's all that I'm talking about these days!)

I love ALL of these ideas that I compiled for you too...

Images via DecorPad

4)frame it for less (one of my steadfast rules is that I ALWAYS buy big or special frames when I see them for cheap in thrift stores, especially if they include nice intact mat board as part of the framing.  These aren't too hard to come by.  They usually contain ugly corporate hotel art or something of the like, but don't be scared off!  Look at the frame only.)

To me, a great price is anywhere from $10-50 depending on the frame, but keep in mind that you would pay hundreds in custom framing costs on a big piece, so nearly any thrift store frames, even those priced a bit higher, are probably a great deal.  

But what constitutes a "good" thrift store frame, you ask?

:"good frame" rules:
1)large size (since custom framed huge art looks insanely good but is forbiddingly expensive, always be on the lookout for the really big frames, like 3' in size and up.)

2)quality materials (cannot be shabbily made of cheap materials, but can be spray painted if the frame is showing wear and tear.  So just make sure the corners all match up and the frame is generally sturdy and well put together.  Keep in mind that it's fairly easy to have new glass cut if need be, which will run $30-60 for large sizes.)

3)low profile frame (generally a frame will look more chic and "gallery-like" if the profile is not too chunky and bulky.  There are exceptions, like when you're trying to create some variation on a gallery wall, but generally speaking a frame with clean lines and low profile does so much more for your art and photos.)

This is in no way a comment on the photos :)
The old kissing couple is adorable, and the girl probably has collagen injections.  Just sayin'.

4)big white mats make a piece look really special. Dinky mats...better off without (I love the look of extra wide mat board.  It creates beautiful negative space on the wall and draws your attention to whatever is framed within.  Thin mats, on the other hand, make your wedding photo look kind of like a diploma. This may be debatable in some circles, but I still like thick mats much better. And stick to takes a special touch to pull off colored mat boards. )

The gold leafed frames used in my project came from Goodwill with the giant mat included.  I picked up 4 or 5 (for $10 apiece) and there were stacks of them from a big hotel.  Now I wish I'd hoarded more!  They're just beautiful.

I've used them in three projects so far.  

The client bedroom above...

My living room below...

And in the current "Parisian Chic" 1930s apartment project I'm working on, with this Alexander Calder art as my inspiration.  

I never had the space to hang the two juxtaposing pieces in my own living room, so I've decided to use them both side by side in the Paris apartment instead.  And it looks fantastic...can't wait to show you!

Look for parts two and three in this DIY Wall Art Series coming soon :)



Franksfamilyandfriends said...

Love, love the abstract DIY tips! I really need some art work. You need to come to my home and work your magic! Thank you for so many great ideas! So thrifty but classy!

Rosa said...

Thank you for the nice comments Ali...I'm all about thrifty but classy :)

Robyn S said...

I keep coming back to this post. Love it! Great ideas and my friend Amanda and I are tackling some DIY art projects this week. THANK YOU ROSA

Rosa said...

Yay Robyn! That's so great :) Share your result with us when you're done!

Leah Smith said...

I really love these! What size are these frames?

Unknown said...

I love these, what kind of paint did you use? Acrylic? Also I'm guess you used brushes and not those sponge brushes?


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