Ways to Turn a Canvas into an Abstract Masterpiece

Have you tried abstract painting? When you look at an abstract painting, it’s easy to say, “my 5-year-old could paint that.” But when you actually get down to painting abstractly yourself , it can be a bit intimidating. You don’t have the conventional rules to follow, and your subject matter is wide open to interpretation. So where do you start?

1. Watercolor Spray Painting

One unconventional painting method is to use watercolors on canvas! A canvas primed for acrylics and oils is not very absorbent, so the watercolor paint flows and mixes a lot on this surface. You can buy a watercolor ground and apply it to your canvas beforehand if you prefer a less runny situation, but I highly encourage you to try it the messy way first.

To make an abstract spray painting, fill several old spray bottles with water and mix a different watercolor in each bottle. With your canvas laying horizontally, spray colors on top of colors and watch how they react to each other.

2. Watercolor, Glue & Salt On Canvas

Experiment with some watercolor paint repellents in a mixed media piece. Clear glue and Epsom salts push paint away from themselves and create beautiful textures.

First, lay some washes of watercolor paint on a primed canvas, then squirt some clear glue on top. Then sprinkle some salts on top while the paint is wet and let it all dry.  The salt can be rubbed off later. The glue can be left on or peeled off too.

3. Drippy Abstract Watercolor Shapes

Once you’re comfortable with watercolors on canvas, you can try something a little more representative.

Try some actual shapes with watercolors on canvas.  You can paint ovals and loose floral shapes for an abstract cactus painting.  Put lots of paint on the canvas and tip it a little and let it run.

4. Stamping

When working with acrylics or oils on canvas, you can use ordinary objects such as stamps to create an abstract painting. This Craftsy member used caps, cups and sponges to stamp the paint onto the canvas. Gorgeous!

5. Acrylic Mixed Media

If acrylic is your thing, get creative with acrylic mediums! Acrylic modeling paste can be combined with acrylic paint to create a thick, moldable paste that goes right on your canvas. Gel mediums canenhance or diminish the gloss of your paint or make it more transparent. There are so many possibilities here!

Create a texture-filled abstract painting by combining acrylic paint with modeling paste, gel medium, gel skins and colored pencil like this Craftsy member did.

Related Articles