Thursday, September 15, 2011

DIY Franz Kline Large-Scale Abstract Art

I've been bookmarking paintings just like this for several years now. For someone who redecorates DAILY it's a real good sign when I like something for that long. It means I must really, really like it and I won't be trying to sell it to you on Craigslist within the week. It might even last a year!

I love the graphic face-slap of the black and white and the heavy strokes, and I feel like it really balances out the fussiness of an old home.

Dudes, it is NOT easy trying to introduce the 60s to the 20s. Sometimes you put them together in a room and they get all awkward and quiet and shuffle their feet and then you realize your intergenerational design marriage has failed. Slowly I'm learning how to make these opposites do the rhumba together in this neo-English mini manor house of mine.

So yesterday I finally got out some materials and made myself a real, live, super-fake Franz Kline.

It's not finished, and I hung it up unframed and wet being the instant-gratification princess that I am. It's crooked and hanging on an old nail. If anyone sneezes, it's a goner.

My art critic oldest child says, "You need to feather the lines more."

My husband said, "What's up, Picasso?"

My youngest has probably already wiped a booger on it.

After it dries, I might feather the lines more and maybe build up the paint a little for more texture. It's a simple and super-cheap project, but it's deceptively complicated trying to get a few lines to look just right.


A pre-gessoed (prepped and ready to paint) canvas from Michael's

left-over exterior latex semi-gloss paint from Glidden in Onyx Black (from my front door)

oil paint in white

a regular 4" paintbrush from Home Depot (don't get those short, cheap would be impossible to achieve the look of a bold stroke)

a pencil for sketching

an old nail for impatiently pounding into your lovely wallpaper to see the results


To make it easier to get the proportions right, I printed the picture out from my computer and divided it into quadrants. Then I penciled out quadrant marks on my canvas. This was really important and only took 15 minutes or so.

I sketched out the lines, and then painted the negative space white first. Then I added in the black strokes and spent about an hour feathering the edges, standing back to look, and adjusting elements that just didn't look right.

The total cost (because I bought the canvas with a 50% off coupon and had old paint) was about $25.

I plan to make a simple black frame for it, and even hang it on a real picture hanger. Soon, I promise.


  1. Excellent. Love the black-n-white boldness with your smiling wallpaper.

  2. I've been wanting to knock out one of these babies as well...I too, am a complete instant gratification princess so now you have convinced me to embrace my innerfranz.

  3. At first I thought the first photo was your living room, and I'm thinking "yo, nice pillars!" Glad to see you didn't go there. May have suggested decorator rehab.....
    Your version of the painting is really great! I love it with your wallpaper and the light. Can you make me a simple cream silk shell with broad brushtrokes? You do sew, right? I'd wear that.

  4. The people who live there require large pillars to hold up their egos...without them they would be crushed under the sheer weight!
    You know that couldn't be my if was there would be three dining sets a a dozen chairs in there! Storage bonanza!!

    I will paint you a Hanes t-shirt and cut the sleeves off. How's that?

  5. FAUX ART.

    i have been considering this myself.

    *well done.*

  6. I like it! And it looks great with the wallpaper. Not copying stuff is overrated anyway :)

  7. We can just shorten the description to f'art

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