Monday, June 12, 2017

DIY Custom Over-Sized (or Any Size!) Abstract Spatter Painting

I recently shared how I created shadow box displays for our wedding mementos, but that's far from the only personal DIY gracing our walls. I'll be sharing more here on the blog over time, and today's post is one of my personal favourite pieces - a GIGANTIC custom abstract spatter painting. Unfortunately, it's super tricky to take a picture of that truly shows the painting in all of it's glorious context on the wall, but I'll add new pics here someday!  The image above and collage below will give you a good idea of the look, scale, and style of the piece. The ceilings are 12ft high and that's a super king bed beneath the painting (not styled for pretty photos, but that's real life around our place!).

Living is a shakey quakey area, it's best not to hang anything heavy near one's bed. Framed by a giant window on one side, beautiful old fireplace on the other, the bed head wall viewed from the bedroom entrance was a gigantic dominant blank space stretching up to the ceiling. It needed something. Something big, not crazy expensive (we probably won't have walls like this to fill in future homes!) and relative lightweight. Hmm. Solution? DIY!

The painting was created on a homemade canvas, which was stretched onto a basic homemade frame, purposefully lighter than might otherwise be used for such a large canvas and custom sized to suit the wall space at approximately 2.5m wide by 1.5m high. It's gigantic, but very lightweight. Making the canvas was incredibly cost effective compared to buying such a large pre-made canvas! It's simply by-the-roll art canvas stretched and stapled onto a wooden frame. Tips: For an oversized canvas, you will need at least two people to manoeuvre the canvas/frame safely and without accidental damage. For extra protection, consider working on a soft surface when stretching and stapling.  This mammoth canvas was assembled outdoors, so quilts were used to protect the canvas from dirt, scratches, and other damage during assembly.

I wanted the painting to pull the eye and accent the scale of the room/walls, but still stay relatively neutral, so decided to create a spatter painting with subtle colour shades on a neutral gradient. In my mind, it would have a sort of outerspace dreamy feeling that was well suited to bedroom. Here goes! 
  • The base for the spatter painting was created by painting the canvas in a gradient from black at the bottom edge (coordinating with the bed head and other elements of our interior decor) to our wall colour (Resene's Half White Pointer) at the top edge.
  • Spray paint (black and white) was used to dodge (lower) and burn (upper) the edges and perimeter slightly to help the gradient blend and bend with the canvas. Base ready!
  • The preliminary spatter base of black through grey and into the pale greys/whites was created by mixing slurries of paint and water in a spray bottle. and spritzing the canvas. Tip: Test spray off-canvas before you start spraying onto your lovely base!  The spray was applied slowly (avoid mixing by allowing touch-dry time) and carefully from the bottom towards the top (darker shades) and top towards the bottom (lighter shades) so that the main spatter patters echoed the gradient while smaller edge spatter sprtized out towards the lighter/darker areas respectively. 
  • With the base complete, it was time to start adding paint spatters by hand. Spattering was applied by mixing paint with water, gathering a small amount onto a small art brush, and flicking it onto the canvas. Tip: Test flick a little off-canvas to get comfortable with the technique before you start flicking onto your base.
  • Similar shades of black, grey, and pale grey/whites were custom mixed and spattered incrementally to to fill out any uneven areas or plain spots in the base.
  • Slowly, accents of colour were added to the plain base. Just a little! Moody blues, greens, burgundies, and metallics paints of similar shades along with gold and silver for a subtle effect. 
  • Once happy with the patter and distribution, dry completely and hang securely in place. 


  1. If that is a super-king sized bed the painting must be huge! I bet it looks awesome in person. How long did it take?

    1. The canvas was pretty quick to put together - an hour or so max, mostly because it was huge and tricky for the two of us to get taut and stapled into place without damaging things or leaving wrinkles/slack. The painting took place incrementally over two days, but much of that was drying time between layering on the spatters.


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