DIY Abstract Art

Some of you asked for more information on my friend Vanessa's front room. Fortunately for Vanessa (but unfortunately for you), she thrifted her gorgeous sofas. The gray one was reupholstered and the orange loveseat was in perfect condition (she paid $20 for it!!). She did add the legs though. The chevron pillows were made from fabric purchased at Creative Fabrics in Arizona. There is a cow hide on the floor that she got at Home Goods for $200.

I especially love the abstract art. Vanessa bought a huge square canvas on sale for $40 at Michaels and used her son's oil painting kit to do her own version of this Franz Kline painting. I love how it turned out!

PS Today on Babble, I'm talking about some other DIY abstract art projects that I love.

PPS Yesterday I posted on my little miracle in a bottle. This magical potion REMOVES SHARPIE MARKER!!!


Jenny @ Simcoe Street said...


Tonia said...

Love this room, I can tell that thought has gone into it and not just thrown together. Especially love the sofas.

Three Sisters said...

The art looks fantastic in that room!

Emily said...

The abstract art is fantastic! On such a DIY art kick at the moment - love the look!

the sassy kathy said...

where's the little brass floor lamp from? vintage/thrifted also?

hdayton said...

What a lovely room! So layered and textural. She has a great eye. Maybe she could "guest post" sometime.

Kristen said...

Love the paintings - theyre one of the first things I noticed about the room. I recently did some black and white abstracts, too. So simple, btu they add such a nice graphic punch to the room! :)

Lily said...

Wow...her piece looks so it !!


Anonymous said...

As an artist (and someone interested in interior design), I have to tell you that this is a huge disservice to real artists. It looks nice, but this isn't art, it is decoration only and should be labeled as such. I propose that all interior designers use the term "wall decor" when describing something like this. Please and thank you! Love, A Frustrated Community of Real Artists Constantly Being Undermined by Designers of All Kinds!!

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi Anon - Thank you so much for your comment. Truly, I appreciate your input and can completely understand where you are coming from.

I meant for this post to be inspiration for people who don't currently have the budget to invest in fine art (which represents a sizable part of my readership). Even if a professional piece of art is only a couple of hundred dollars, that is more than Vanessa paid for BOTH of her sofas.

Plus, I don't think it's fair to say that what Vanessa painted can not be called art. I think it is beautiful, even thought-provoking. And to me that is what defines art.

Check out my post on Babble today (link is at the bottom of my post). I linked to professional abstract artists that I love and also invited other artists to comment and link to their stores or sites. Feel free to leave a comment there so the readers who are in a position to invest in art can find you.

Best of luck!!

kelleyp said...

feel compelled to meet your friend vanessa! is she still living in our great state, arizona? seriously not many gals in az love a modern/trad room. don't you feel the design in AZ is tuscany-ish. send her my way if she wants a email/design friend. would love to find another thrifting partner!

Shoe.Gal said...

This is great! I am starting an art class in September and would love to do a good abstract piece.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post although I can't believe your friend thrifted BOTH of those great couches! After finding nothing I like at retail stores, I've been searching Craigslist incessantly to no avail for both a modern and vintage piece (that I wouldn't mind reupholstering) with those lines but find it hard to narrow my search to what I want.

CinnamonInk said...

Ooo I must say, I love that try it yourself approach to abstract. It looks lovely!


ness said...

Thanks to all for the sweet comments. I primarily sent Jenny a picture to thank her for her brilliant hack idea! She is so resourceful and is beyond talented. This room is definitely a work in progress and we've worked extremely hard with many hours of hard labor (gut, move walls, add built-ins, re-texture walls, paint, etc.)

I find it interesting that on a blog that became popular for extremely thrifty DIY ideas someone would put in a request to label something "wall decor" and would take offense to using the word "art". I want to make it clear that I don't claim to be an artist and do not take myself seriously! I copied another artist's work which is in the hundred's of thousand's of dollars range. BUT-the word art has many definitions, this among them: "the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and photography". So while I copied something and this was my first time painting, I used actual paint, I used my own hands, it took experimentation to achieve texture, color, and contrast, and it was so gratifying to see the end result! I love doing things myself- sewing, reupholstery, painting, etc and that is regardless of budget. It's rewarding. I am happy for people to call my "self-painted wall decor" whatever they'd like!

pve design said...

I love it and I love the color of the walls.
Looks like a museum.

Kate said...

I have to chime in here as an artist as well since I think many of us do find the term DIY ART to ruffle the feathers. Artists focus a entire career on intense research to create a oeuvre, which takes sacrifice and devotion to the field, just like designers, mathematicians, and any other field of study. I agree that the term "art" carries many meanings, and all of us have a right to use it! But when someone else's work is outright copied- where is the artistic license here? The work may be thought provoking, yes, but to the maker of this project, it was completely formal, not at all conceptual, because the concept was already driven by Kline's years of devotion to painting. I also prefer the term wall decor when you are going to throw in the term "DIY" because you really are thinking of it more as a craft project, than a means of prolific expression. Playing with texture and paint is all good and fun (and crafty!), but one should instead consider doing a handful of studies from the artist's work that they are inspired by (in this case Franz Kline). This way you aren't just ripping off of someone else's oeuvre, and are instead learning a craft based on someone else's years of professional experience. You may in fact, come to find your own voice and means of expression through the process of making! Which is wonderful, and then, you very much should call it ART, and you won't need to stick the tag DIY in front of it, since of course, it's yours, and you did it. It really does just comes across as demeaning. Let's leave the DIY tag for craft projects and before and afters. Great dialogue, Jenny! And the room really is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

If I hear one more person preface their post with the phrase, "as an artist/real artist," my nausea might actually turn to projectile vomiting.

the truth here is everyone is an artist. some people's craft may be much easier to look at, but everyone on this earth is practicing their art in their own way. art is art, and as such there really is no such thing as "bad art", "fake art", or even "good art," there is but one's own personal opinion.

art cannot be defined, encapsulated or labeled, and it would be my opinion that any "real artist" who spends even the smallest moment criticizing, labeling, or defining others art rather than appreciating it, really, and i mean really needs to get over themselves.
quit taking life so seriously.
it's a beautiful world out there, go enjoy it.

Kate said...

Wow, I find your remarks to be completely inappropriate and rude. Unlike previous anon above, I appreciate the chance to be able to talk about topics in which diversity can bring a completely different perspective into the dialogue. Most of us know how to do it in a respectable way.

However, you wish to just disregard so quickly the discourse of visual art and those of us who have spent years of study and training in our fields. I was very specifically talking about Visual art, and it's such a cliche to say everyone is an artist and everything we do is "art." You didn't touch on even a single one of my points. Nor did you even try to actually tackle aesthetics and subjectivity in a manner that would be of any interest. Anyone can sit there and call themselves an artist, and I am not trying to take away from their validity, I'm just trying to shed light on a topic that does seem to be quite heated for many in the blogsphere.

No one is denying anyone of their right to call themselves artists, but if you wish to do so, you need to understand the repercussions of copying other peoples work, etc. Art can be defined in many ways, and it is, that again, is the discourse of studio art and art history. This is also what one does when they study at the Graduate and PhD level. We talk about it all the time, and we pose questions that we hope will improve our work and its relevancy in the scheme of contemporary art.

Critique and presentation are the primary means of dialogue in the practice of artmaking, and without that, we would have no way to evaluate and improve our own work. No one is asking the doctor or architect to lighten up, so why would you expect that of every artist? I believe most of us who dedicate a career in anything take our work very seriously. And to be honest, even a comment loaded with silly cliches doesn't bring me down to the level of using bodily fluid references.

Jenny at LGN said...

Hey Kate and Anon,

Thanks for your comments and passion about this subject.

Kate - I think the critical piece of information here is that Vanessa is not trying to sell this painting. She is using it in her personal home and enjoying it there, I'm sure.

It's such a touchy subject, but I think we are going to have to chalk it up to an issue of semantics. I feel like 'art,' as it relates to this post, is a broad term that mostly has to do with intention and creativity. Even though Vanessa copied the Kline work, it still took artistic ability and effort. Again, she's not trying to sell the piece.

I meant this to be a nice little post to inspire people to pick up a paint brush and get creative. I hope you both would agree that is a good thing.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Her "intention" was to make a decoration to match her sofas! That is NOT art, that is decoration ONLY! Kline was the artist with the intention and creativity. Kline made art, not Vanessa. Sure, copying his work takes effort and some skill and I'm glad she enjoys it and had fun. However, her "intention" was not original and was meant purely to decorate. The antithesis of art. Nothing about copying an artwork is thought provoking. I don't think anyone is saying that her making DIY wall decor for use in her own home is bad. It looks great in the space. But don't call a forgery art. Semantics are key here, I agree, and Kate points that out beautifully. Thank you, Kate.

This is so frustrating! This issue of semantics is part of the reason that the art world is so misunderstood by interior designers, and why our worlds are so far apart! Artists dedicate their lives to their research and craft, only to run into people who trivialize their entire being out of pure ignorance. Ugh! I love your blog, Jenny, but I feel so let down.

ness said...

Anon #3-

While I personally disagree with your opinion on art, I can respect your opinion and dedication to your craft.

I do want to address your claim on MY intention. I actually painted the canvas before I had anything else in the room. I am an admirer of Franz Kline's work and think a large abstract canvas is beautiful. However, I thought I would try my hand at painting and because I've never attempted it before I took an inspiration image I LOVED and did the closest interpretation I could. The result is what I wanted: a textural canvas with actual paint- not a print (which would have cost $400+) and an inspiring image which I enjoy looking at everyday- and I credit any inspiration I gain from it to the actual artist himself, not me. So the project was for the love of the art itself. And guess what- I'm not going to pay over $1000 for a piece from an artist that is a Franz Kline look-a-like because I can paint a look-a-like myself and save my money. Which I turned around and used for a 48" x 60" photo canvas signed by the artist. And THEN I furnished my room.

I think it's amazing to read complaints on interior designers' misunderstanding of artists. Interior designer's blogs are one of the main ways to get your art distributed to the masses of people in the blog world. They provide FREE advertising by posting pictures of spaces and listing their favorite artists, creating traffic to artists most of us would never have heard of. Jenny even offered that free advertising on her babble post.

Celeste said...

That's a great project idea, I'm always looking for inexpensive art --what a great way to get just what you want!


plumbing said...

That's really nice. Great post ! Love the art!

Anonymous said...

I discovered your blog not long ago and ever since I read it everyday!! I think you are great and share so many inspiring ideas! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny, I love your blog!
Hi Vanessa I love the sofas you used in your home. May I ask what thrift store you used in Arizona? Also what Homegoods did you purchase your hide rug. Thank you!
AZ Chic

ness said...

The gray sofa was purchased at Salvation Army Thrift on Power and Broadway. They run sales all the time for 40% off. It was marked at $100 so I got it on sale for $60. I then had it reupholstered. The orange love seat was at Goodwill on Recker and University. It was on casters and was marked at $40. I went back the next day on their 50% off Saturday. I got there first thing in the morning and ran straight back to the sofa. The Homegoods I go to is on Stapley and Baseline. I haven't seen any cowhides recently but they get a pretty good selection of lamps and rugs.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Vanessa! I know exactly where these stores are located at. I shop at the Homegoods in Mesa too :)

Lanna said...

I can not believe that people would criticize another for making their own art.

I am a 'professional artist' and so is my mother. I define 'professional artist' as you make a living SOLELY by selling your art. I have spent my life painting, studying and selling my art.

In my opinion, ANYONE can make art and most people who have the ABILITY to make their own art are not going to buy my art or anyone elses. I say if you can do it, DO IT!

Congratulations on being able to paint! You did a great rendition of the Kline. The room is fabulous and I hope you paint more ART for your home!


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