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One Room Challenge Week 3: DIY Abstract Art

April 18, 2018

DIY Abstract Art

Welcome to week 3 of the One Room Challenge!

If you’ve hopped over to this post from the ORC website – welcome! I’m Emily, this is my blog, and I’m working on undecorating the 1929 tudor-ish home I share with my husband, Andy, and our corgi, Penelope. This is where I should describe my style so I guess I’d say it’s something along the lines of traditional-modern which doesn’t sound like a real thing. I am glad you’re here.

Be sure to check out week 1 and week 2 to see the plans and progress on my first One Room Challenge. I’m making over our moody green guest bedroom.

ORC Week 3 – All About DIY Art

While I wait for backordered curtain rods and watch boxes and boxes of things arrive at our front door (and grow a pile of items to return), I’m focusing this week on the things I can control – like art. Our guest room has a long, blank wall that I haven’t been sure what to do with. A gallery wall seemed like a good choice but I kept thinking I wanted something tidier. And then the internet blessed me, as it so often does, with just the inspiration I needed.

DIY Art Inspiration

Hovey Design Home Tour via Cup of Jo

[Hovey Design Home Tour on Cup of Jo | Photo by Julia Robbs]

The term “DIY art” seems weird because all art is a DIY right, BUT in this world, it applies to art done by non-professional artists. Sometimes I come across things on the internet that just speak to my soul and inspire me. This home tour did that. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. Sisters Hollister and Porter Hovey run Hovey Designs, an apartment staging and styling service in New York. Their taste in vintage (and IKEA, and everything) is impeccable. I’ve never considered myself a maximalist, but if this is maximalism, I’ve got to reassess.

The sisters create their own art to use in their homes and for their clients. They have a relaxed approach and offer this advice to anyone scared to try:

Hollister: Truly, don’t be afraid to try it out. You can do squares, circles on a canvas… I’m not a painter, never was, but you can mess around.

Porter: People can get so nervous about art. But look at what’s in museums! I love abstract expressionism, and I know those artists were the first to do it, etc., but it’s random! You’re not trying to sell a museum piece anyway, you just need something nice for your house. You could frame linen and it will look pretty.

Cup of Jo Hovey Home Tour

[Source: Hovey Design Home Tour on Cup of Jo | Photo by Juia Robbs ]

I mean, come on. SO good.

Those deep green walls, that pink, everything.

Color Palette Inspiration

Hawkins New York pillows and blanket

[Source: Hawkins New York]

I was tempted to go with the same color palette as the Hovey sisters but I decided I needed to lighten things up. The color palette in this photo from Hawkins New York is so perfect for bringing some brightness into the moody guest bedroom.  Actually, if I could just hang a giant version of this photo in the guest bedroom, I’d just do that and call it a day.

I am creating this art myself not because I don’t want to support artists or because I think original art is overpriced or not worth it but because I want to get back to making art. I grew up drawing and painting and I thought I would go to art school. I ended up pursuing studio arts and then art history and arts management at a university and got away from actually making art. One of my personal goals for this year is to art more, so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to get back at it.

Art Planning in Procreate

DIY abstract art concepts drawn with Procreate

I treated myself to an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil for Christmas and I am in love with it. I used the iPad App called Procreate to mess around with blobs and lines. It’s so easy to sketch things out, move them around for balance, and adjust scale as you go. The app also makes it easy to try different colorways for indecisive people like me. Once I was happy enough with my sketches, I airdropped them to my laptop (you can export them as PSDs, JPEGs, PDFs whatever you need).

I’m not sure about the first and last drawings so I’d like to spend more time reworking those. I feel most confident about the middle drawing so I decided to start working on that one first.

Painting in Progress

I’ve tasked myself with creating 3 original paintings over the next few weeks. I mean, I could have just had my digital drawings printed, framed (I love Framebridge), and called it a day but that wouldn’t be the Emily way. My sweet Andy said to me just this morning in the middle of my first ORC meltdown “I’m trying not to add any stress to the stress you’ve already created for yourself.”

DIY abstract art process with ipad

My process so far is this: I sketch out shapes in pencil on my 24″ x 30″ canvas (I got mine at Jo Ann’s on sale for 60% off) and then start mixing paint. I picked up some Liquitex tubes and am also using some super cheap craft paint from my craft stash. I got richer tones out of the inexpensive paints by mixing a number of colors, adding white, adding gray, adding green, until I liked what I saw.

My very professional paint mixing palette is a cute Cheeky paper plate from Target.

I’m having trouble getting the right color for the big bottom blob. I started with a more teal blue, then a bright blue, and for now, it’s green. But not the right shade of green.

DIY Abstract Art

I’m adding texture with small brush strokes using a 1″ brush rather than a big big brush for the large areas. I’ve got some clean up to do, some extra coats, and I’ve gotta pick a color for that dot. But I’m pleased with my progress so far. It feels so good to paint again.

I’ll be making some wooden floating frames for these canvases to they’ll look extra polished up on the wall.

So where is all this art going to go?

Art Placement

arranging art around a door

This week’s dilemma is all about art placement. When the bedroom door is open, part of the wall is covered and depending on where the art is placed, some of the art would be partially hidden. We leave the bedroom door open all the time unless we have guests. I was thinking I could hang the art so that the left piece of art would be completely hidden by the open door, and then revealed as a fun surprise, but once I measured it out, the canvases would have to be hilariously far apart. So the options are:

Option 1:

Center the middle piece of art and cozily place the other two canvases on either side. When the door is closed, about half of the left art is covered.

Option 2:

Hang all the art in the space that is never obstructed by an open door but make guests live with the empty space behind the door.

HELP! Which would you do?

One Room Challenge Guest Participant

Remember to follow along and see what the Featured Designers and Guest Participants are up to for week 3!

Hey heads up: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

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  • Reply Mila April 19, 2018 at 12:35 am

    I use Adobe Draw for all my sketching ideas, but I think I will try Procreate, too. I am painting a mural that I designed with that wonderful IPAD. I love it. I also love your abstract paint. I 100% believe in creating your own art. Looks great so far. Good luck!

    • Reply thesweetbeast April 19, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Nice! Your mural plans look amazing. I love Adobe Draw and Sketch too, I am delighted everytime I seamlessly transfer PSDs from one device to another with CC. Technology!

  • Reply Melissa Lynch April 19, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Wow! The abstract art looks great. Love it so much <3

  • Reply Emily April 19, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I like option 2! Love your inspiration – it’s going to turn out great!

    • Reply thesweetbeast April 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks so much! I’m am floored by those Hovey sisters.

  • Reply Regine from The 256 Project April 19, 2018 at 11:04 am

    1. You are talented. 2. I would say Option 2. I think that placement is actually centered on that wall anyway, right? Also, the most guests will spend in there is lying in bed so they will see the art a lot and I think Option 2 is a better view from the bed vantage point.

    • Reply thesweetbeast April 19, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      1. Thank you!! 2. Ooh that’s true, it would pretty much be centered on the entire wall, closet door included. I like the way you’re thinking about it from the guests’ perspective from the bed! My brain had not gotten there.

  • Reply Marne April 19, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I love this, Em!! The colors you chose are perf.
    I’d go with option 1 without a doubt.

    • Reply thesweetbeast April 19, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you! <3 <3 <3
      I like your certainty.

  • Reply Liz April 19, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I first thought option 1, but the more I look at it, with option 2 it still looks centered even with the empty space behind the door. Since I’m having a hard time picking, I’m sure either one will look great :)

  • Reply Sara April 19, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I would go with option 2, but with only 2 canvases instead of 3.

    • Reply thesweetbeast April 19, 2018 at 9:05 pm

      Ooo I love the idea of making 2 arts instead of 3 :D :D

  • Reply Alison @ Deuce Cities Henhouse April 19, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Yes! I love that you are adding your own art – that’s so awesome! Your color palette has got me ga ga. I used to play with procreate all the time, it’s been awhile – you’ve inspired me to open that app back up :)

    • Reply thesweetbeast April 19, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      Thank you! Looove me that color palette too. Get back into that Procreate! It’s so soothing and also so instantly satisfying. Glad to have inspired you to pick it back up!

      Could not be more excited to see your upholstered/bolster bed. Hope your back is better soon!

  • Reply Vanessa April 19, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    I think option #2 as well, but you might hang it and think otherwise. I’d have to be there.

  • Reply Mary @ I Like it Lovely April 20, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I love your art! What a good idea. I usually have my kids create something since their abstracts are way better than mine!

  • Reply Zoe April 20, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Kinda surprised that everyone is choosing option 2! This is a tricky choice because the wall space isn’t ideal, but I think Option 1 makes so much more sense–it looks really strange to have the art be jammed up against…what is that? another door?

    You need breathing room on both sides of your art. Option 2 looks weird both with the door closed AND open because of the proximity to the other doorway. I don’t think it’s that odd to have the first piece of art obstructed by the door when it is open–I think it’s fine! That’s my 2 cents :)

  • Reply mutricy April 21, 2018 at 4:02 am

    Oh wahooo and thanks for the inspiration, I was searching a way to do green in a room without overpowering it… with this pink it’s perfect. As for your art I like it ! and I like the circle white as it give negative space… I would go for option 2 as well, like Régine said, it would line up perfectly with the bed… awsome ORC project !!

  • Reply Libbie April 18, 2019 at 10:20 am

    I love your abstract! I am a fan of placement two. I would like the symmetry when I was looking at it frame bed.

  • Reply Dianne November 21, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Love your projects!

    Have you considered using latex primed masonite instead of more expensive canvas? Lowe’s will cut large pieces to your specs. You can also get quite a variety of latex paint samples at Lowe’s or Home Depot; the paints can be tinted to paint chip sample cards. Use Mod podge as the final sealant. Cheap, but gives excellent results.

  • Reply Dianne November 22, 2019 at 7:52 am

    …another suggestion: you can get an exact copy of a fabric color (bedspread, pillow or curtains) by letting the paint department match an acrylic (latex) paint sample to the fabric. The inexpensive sample jars are great for creating large scale paintings.

    Large masonite panels can be backed with pine @1×2″ strips, mitered at corners and wood glued to board. Cross brace as necessary.

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