I hear it all the time during classes I teach.

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

“I’m just not creative.”

“Please don’t make me do anything creative.”

I have a news flash. You are creative. Really. We all are. Just because you can’t make something look like someone else would or because you can’t render an exact replica of someone’s face with brush and canvas (which I can’t do), doesn’t mean you are not creative. This tutorial will hopefully get those of you who have creataphobia, as I have coined this disorder, more comfortable with self expression. You may end up with some wall art in the process.


Painting abstract art is a great way to relax after a stressful day. You might even like what you do so well that you want to frame it and put it on the wall. If you have paint brushes, paper and paint, you can do it. Yes, you can. . .really.


I like to use tube acrylic paint (not craft paint in the bottle), which is available at most stores in the craft section. You don’t need an expensive set of brushes, but I would recommend a pad of paper made for acrylics. Acrylics dry pretty fast to a shiny plastic finish, but they clean up with water. Start by choosing several colors. I usually stick with three or four complimentary colors (like blues and greens above) and two accent colors (the yellow and magenta).

From there you simply start making brush strokes, blobs, dots, lines, etc. Whatever you feel inspired to make.



I like to space my complimentary colors out evenly over the surface of the paper then fill in with the accent colors.


For this piece, I simply made long brush strokes. I had planned to go back and add some black lines, but I liked it like this and left it.


Here are the finished products of this day’s work.


These were from a different day when I was using acrylics that had fine glitter added. These paints were actually in the kid’s craft section. They were called glitter gels. I bought them for my daughter and she never used them.


If you have some paint left over, try this. When I taught preschool, we made these several times a year. They are a great way to use up leftover paint and get a surprise in the process. Fold your paper in half (you can use card stock or construction paper for this as long as its thick). On half of the paper, dab your remaining paint randomly.


Fold the paper at the fold you made earlier. Carefully rub the paper in different directions. Make sure you do this on newspaper, because it sometimes oozes out.


Unfold the paper. Voila! A beautiful abstract that took you about three minutes. My students always liked to come up with things the paintings looked like (kind of like ink blots at the psychiatrist). The most popular answer was a butterfly, probably because when you open the paper, it pulls apart and leaves “veins” like butterfly wings.


The great thing about tube acrylics is they dry three-dimensionally as long as you leave them flat.

Now, was that art lesson all that bad? Aren’t you ready to get some paint on your hands? Art is not supposed to be stressful. It’s supposed to be fun. Make it that way 🙂