DIY Abstract Painting – ORC Week 5

Hello hello hello from One Room Challenge Week 5! If you are just joining me, I’m working on switching up our den and sharing progress right here and on the One Room Challenge blog over six weeks. Over 200+ other guest participants, and a handful of legit designers, are working on rooms too – many much more ambitious than mine! Check them out! You can get caught up with all previous weeks of my room right here:

Week 1 Intro + plans!

Week 2 Paint!

Week 3 Wall Paneling!

Week 4 Furniture!

So first things first…I decided to KEEP the wall unit I shared last week. And I’m so happy with the decision. It takes me awhile to warm up to newness, in general, and keeping it meant selling a beloved desk (that we no longer need but I’m in love with) and relocating a beloved vintage fireplace (to our master bedroom). But I’ve arrived on the other end of it, eyeroll made peace with the loss and change eyeroll, and I’m embracing this wall o’ wood.

One thing this wall unit was screaming for was a funky abstract painting. I tried a few that I already had, but none were quite right so I decided to paint a new one!
Now, you may think I’m the worst when I tell you this, but sometimes I paint over thrift store paintings. With left over house paint samples. And that’s what I did here. It’s cheap and easy, and there’s no messing around with stretching canvases or framing finished work. What I look for in a good thrift store repainting candidate is: 1. good-looking frame, 2. lots of texture in the existing painting, and 3. doesn’t fall into desirable/collectible/sellable vintage art genres because I’m not a total monster.

You can see the before of this painting below, which is probably the third “work of art” put on this canvas. It was done by my kiddos a few years ago and hung in their crazy blue bathroom for a short time. While I liked the scale and the abstractness of it, the colors and chaos weren’t what this space was calling for. The original, by the way, was an unfinished pastel drawing of a creepy sad man and a single balloon. I was drawn to the weirdness, but it scared me at night so I eventually painting over it (here), and then my kids painted over it, and now I painted over it again. Gasp. Creepo balloon man is still under there about to murder me for my disrespect but I’m ok with it…I was going for something simple and calm, with a nod to abstract expressionism, and I think I got it. A few large pops of color (orange + acid green yay!) over a mostly negative white space. Punchy, but not visually busy. A good way to ease into abstract work is to stick to two or three colors and follow the rule of thirds: make your painting “heavy” along lines of thirds instead of lines of symmetry. And don’t forget texture! It adds dimension to otherwise minimal work. (The great thing about painting over another painting is that a layer of texture is already there for you.)

I almost always like my paintings better upside down from the way I intended their orientation. Can’t decide yet with this one…In other room news, I made important invisible progress: PURGING! I spent last weekend literally – you will think I’m exaggerating but I’m not – bringing in every lamp/artwork/piece of pottery/etc from every other rooms and choosing what I wanted for here. Den got first dibs. And after all that shuffling, I didn’t make a lot of drastic changes. But it did help me say goodbye to a lot of random little stuff that I didn’t want in here and then decided I didn’t want anywhere, one of my original goals of all of this. This house needs a good cleanse from clutter. I even completely cleared out the built-in shelf in our family room in anticipation of some major changes in there. Feels good.


white shag rug
exterior black and white rug
everything else – vintage

I’ll be back next week all done done done! See you then! xoxo Jenny



4 thoughts on “DIY Abstract Painting – ORC Week 5

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