DIY Abstract Art for the Mantle

I didn’t really mean to make my own art, it just came about after searching high and low for something to place over the mantle and coming up empty.

Let me back up.

Here’s what our fireplace looked like moving in:

Family room

The previous owners had their TV mounted above the fireplace, but we were placing it against the wall to the right (not pictured). We didn’t want to fill that space completely, in case we decided to mount the TV later, but needed a big piece of art to cover that large 36″ x 36″ square. Have you ever searched for 36 x 36 canvas art? I’ll save you some time: it’s rare to find anything, and if you do it’s either too expensive or art that’s a little dated.

So I decided to make my own.

I scoured Pinterest to get some inspiration. Here are my top favorites, saved on my art Pinterest board:


Source: Parima studio, Erin Cooper, Hillary Butler, Kristy Gammill, Yolanda Sanchez, Michelle Armas

Just like everyone, when I’m on Pinterest, I pin what looks pretty and don’t put a lot of thought into it. But when you’re trying to use Pinterest for inspiration for your own project, it’s good to go back and actually pin point (pun intended) what it is specifically you like about the picture to help recreate it.

What I love about the above:
The abstract look.
The messiness in each piece.
Pinks, corals, and shades of blue with a splash of yellow.
Bold, rigid strokes.

Supplies I used:

I bought a 36×36 gallery canvas from I quickly found that large square size is unusual to find in the store, so I had to order it online. I used a 40% coupon and free shipping code so it was significantly less than the price listed.

Spray paint:
I used a white paint + primer spray paint to cover the whole canvas, so the acrylic paint would lay flat and not soak through.

Water-based acrylic paint:
I purchased all the paints at Michael’s or Walmart. No surprise here, Walmart’s paint was super cheap. I think those were $0.50 each? I couldn’t tell a difference in quality so Walmart paints will be my go-to from now on (although sometimes Martha Stewart has better colors… darn Martha and her nice expensive taste!).

DIY Abstract Art

Below is what it looked like the first day. Not great. After I spray painted the canvas white, I started with a gray base. I realized I should have added a little more texture to the background because when I started painting bold colors, I didn’t love the way it was going.

DIY Abstract Art

I decided to paint over the entire thing with various shades of blue to create more texture. I wet my paint brush after each stroke so that it would all blend together nicely and even add some drip marks (you can see it clearly at the bottom left). Afterwards, I put it on the mantle to see what it looked like:

DIY Abstract Art

Better, but not at all there. It looked way too purple and needed a lot more contrast and bold strokes. I decided to take a break and come back to it the next day when I had more time to devote.

The next morning I made myself a pumpkin spice latte, opened the windows, put on some good music and got to work. I tried not to think and just paint. A brush stroke here, brush stroke there. Mixing colors I wouldn’t think go together, creating different shapes and angles.

Here’s the final piece:

Abstract Art | My Pretty Pennies I kind of love it. Here’s what it looks like on my mantle:

DIY Abstract Painting - Ginna Neel |

DIY Abstract Art

I realize abstract art isn’t everyone’s style, and some may cringe at the thought of something this bold over their fireplace, but I am so happy with the way it turned out. And it was SO much fun to do!

Have you ever tried to paint abstract before?

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