DIY Abstract Oil Painting

5 years ago

I want to show you how I made this oil painting that is in in my studio, because:

1.It's super easy.

2.Owning and bragging about having original art work is cool.

3.Yes, you can do it all by yourself.

Here's what you need:

-Two boards or pieces of smooth wood. One to paint on, one for a palette. I like masonite. I can buy it at Home Depot in a big sheet and cut it down to several paintable pieces.

-Acrylic Gesso. You don't need much so don't buy a huge tub like mine below.

-Oil paints. Buy a kit for beginners. They are just fine for this project, and don't forget to use a coupon if you go somewhere like Hobby Lobby.

-A Ruler. Any size will do.

-Paint thinner. I like the small odorless bottles intended for oils.

-Paper towels. Plastic gloves too if you don't want to get paint on your hands.

-A large paintbrush. 1-2 inches wide is perfect. Don't stress too much about the paintbrush for this project. Any type of bristle is fine, and a cheap brush works well too.

*Disclaimer: I am not a professional artist. I have taken courses in oil painting, but still consider myself very much a beginner. To paint anything that is not abstract, I strongly suggest some serious drawing lessons, and a beginning painting class at your local community center or college.


Allright, the first thing you need to do is take your paintbrush, and apply a coat of Gesso to your board.

Apply the gesso in smooth even strokes.

When it's dry, apply a second coat.

Next decide what colors you want in your painting. If you bought an oil kit you probably have some basic colors, so go with two or three tubes that are monochromatic. (Similar shades of one color.) I want my abstract painting to be bright, so I am using a lot of white along with some warm colors.

When painting with oils you paint in layers. You always want to paint the thicker layers on the bottom, thinner layers on top. This is an important rule. You can't stick paint right out of the tube on top of thinned-out paint already on your painting. Got it?

Before I begin painting on my board I need to add a little paint thinner to my paints to thin them out. Paint is generally the consistency of really thick toothpaste. You want the consistency of hand cream or lotion. You will figure it out as you play around with it. If it's running off your painting, it's too thin. :)

I also mix my colors together a little bit.

You can mix your colors with your paintbrush, or ruler. When they are ready to go on the board, load up your ruler with some paint.

Take your ruler loaded with several colors, and lay it at the top of your painting. Pull down towards you leaving paint on the board. The colors will mix and blend as you pull down.

It can get messy. This is why I wear cheap disposable gloves.

I felt my painting was too dark, so I pulled some more thinned white paint over the top. Thinner over thicker, remember?

here's a look at mine up close.

Here's another important tip:  The more you pull the ruler over the surface, the more the colors will blend. Don't over think it. Try to just pull down once or twice over one area.

When you like the overall look of your abstract painting, just let it sit and dry out. This is the hard part! It can take several weeks for an oil painting to dry, depending on how thick your paint is.

After three weeks mine was ready. I didn't take a picture, but I did spray a can of clear finish spray paint by Krylon over the whole surface. A spray finish will protect your painting, and give it a nice sheen. You can see the shine in this next picture.

The spray finish is dry in a few hours, and your painting is now ready to hang!

Here's mine again in my studio:

What do you think? Ready to take on oil painting? This is a such great way to make a large piece of original abstract art, and if you buy supplies on sale at a local craft store, it's a very affordable way to make a cool painting too.


If you want to tour the rest of my studio, you can see it here. For more DIY projects at, go here

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