Inspired: Large Scale Abstract Art

By Kate Riley January 27, 2011

A few years ago, I took an art class where I was required to create several paintings, the final one being an abstract work.  I never thought I would like painting abstract art because of the fact it’s not about a pictoral representation, rather the use of color, brushstrokes and emotion.  

Lately, I’ve imagined a large scale piece over our living room sofa, so I’ve been collecting inspirational images to remind myself how fabulous a large scale piece of abstract art looks over a mantel, couch, or console. 

ballard designs abstract and table Ballard Designs


decorpad abstractDecorpad


pb abstractPottery Barn


absract via houzzHouzz


first light ballard designsHouzz


decorpad abstract on wallDecorpad


digs by abstractDigsbyKatie


massucco warner miller abstractMassucco Warner Miller


abstract on wall via decorpadDecorpad

 abstract elements of styleElements of Style


abstract art via madebygirlvia Made by Girl


abstract martha stewart radiator grills on ikea cabinetsMartha Stewart


celerie kemble 2Celerie Kemble


massucco warner miller abstract and shelvingMassucco Warner Miller


abstract waterleaf interiorsWaterleaf Interiors


abstract via design spongeDesign*Sponge


white console via decor8Decor8


sarah richardson living roomSarah Richardson


pale abstract decorpad Decorpad


I’m really inspired by a few of these abstracts available from Grandinroad.  grandinroad abstracts

transition grandinroad

grandinroad abstracts 2

And a few more inspiring works available at Ballard . . .

cool mist ballard

the space between ballard

seasons giclee ballard

blue reflections art ballard


So smitten am I by all of this large scale abstract art that I went and bought a large canvas last weekend, and did a brave thing ~ I started my own painting!  

starting my own

It’s only halfway done, but it’s coming along better than I expected ! 

What’s your opinion of abstract art?  Love it? Hate it?  Ever painted one yourself? 




  1. I love just about every single photo you posted and I wish I could paint one myself. Unfortunately, I am too much of a perfectionist and would never finish it. Can’t wait to see yours! :)

  2. I love the large scale artwork! I have the last one you posted from BD. You are very ambitious to try your own. Can’t wat to see the results.

  3. I cannot paint. I also cannot watch someone else paint. It’s so stressful! Do you remember that old guy on PBS with the fuzzy white hair that used to paint all the time? I used to watch that and get so stressed out that he was going to mess it up. I kept wanting to yell, “Stop! It’s perfect! You’re going to ruin it!” I’m sure you’re going to do a great job, just please, for my sake, don’t show a video of you doing it. I couldn’t handle it.

  4. I am also loving abstract. It’s so versatile and ANYONE can create a masterpiece! If you can paint furniture or walls then you can paint this. I have a piece of canvas that I have plans for too!

  5. I’m hoping to do something on a similar scale over my couch, although I did see a tile mosaic idea that kind of inspired me. Its just the logistics that are a bit hard to wrap my mind around. 4’x4′ of little mini tiles, likely on some sort of backer board…hanging on a wall. Its still in the planning stages. Can’t wait to see your masterpiece.

  6. That is wonderful Kate! those images were definitely inspiring. If you find that the brush isn’t getting the results you are looking for, try a brayer (sp.) it’s what you would use for printmaking, but it would roll the paint out and give some really great effects! Also laying seran wrap or crinkled wax paper and then pulling it off will create some funky textures.Can’t wait to see your final product!

  7. I’ve actually been trying to do this same thing! I bought a two-pack of canvases from Hobby Lobby to practice on. I’ve never painted before, but when you look at abstract art, my feeling was how can I mess up? Apparently you can. Didn’t get a great result, but I’m not giving up. If you’ve got any tips you could share, that would be great. I just bought acrylic paint and some sponge brushes (because I’m a cheapo) but maybe I should invest a little more? Would love to hear any tips you’d be willing to share!

  8. Love abstract art, and I’m required to say that: I have a BFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I love painting, nothing great has come out of my efforts, but it is a lot of fun and I particularly like painting with my kids. We have a big stack of canvases, brushes and paints in the project closet for when the mood strikes. Yours is looking really good!

  9. I used to paint in college and although it’s been a few years, decided to give it another shot and I painted a large abstract piece for our living room last summer. It took a couple months because I couldn’t decide if it was done or not and kept going back to it. In the end, my husband convinced me that it had the look we were going for and now it adds interest to our living room. Good luck with your piece- I’m sure it will turn out beautifully!

  10. I’ve tackled abstract art before. It came out ok. But then again its abstract. I always have a hard time trying to figure out which way to turn it. I can never tell.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  11. I hated abstract art until I took an art history course in college and learned more about it. I think yours is going to be lovely, just like anything else you work on. You have the magic decor touch. ;)

  12. Great job so far! It will be awesome I’m sure….my son is an art major…his abstracts are so interesting..I told him I need one for the house. I recently did a volunteer art presentation for my daughters school and Jackson Pollock was the subject.. .you are probably already familiar with him…I love his work. Keep us posted on your abstract!!!!

  13. Thanks for posting all those inspiration rooms. It makes me want to go buy a canvas too. I think you should go for it! Give it a try, you could always paint over it if you don’t like it. By the looks of the inspiration rooms I think it will work!
    Have a good day!

  14. I love mixing in abstract pieces, I have one now on top of my armoire and I love it. I also painted one, and had it hanging for a while, but I no longer am happy with it. I keep saying I am going to try it again. My daughter actually has a piece from my cousin ( in her room and it is so fun. Take care, Laura

  15. I was never a big fan of abstract art but I think I’m coming around. The colors just seem to speak now. I may have to try my hand at it one day. Enjoy Blissdom!

  16. Ooo…I especially love that 3rd to last picture! How beautiful!

    I’ve never done this before, but have always thought about it. Guess I’ll have to wait ’til we are settled at our next home before rethinking it again. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out, though!

  17. I’m in the process of making my own as well. It’s so hard to find really really large canvases that don’t cost an arm and a leg – I started using plywood – super super cheap and easy to frame, plus you get that vintage look!

  18. Love it!I actually asked for blank canvas’ for Christmas! I need to start on mine! Yours looks amazing! I can’t wait to see the final result!

  19. Kate, I am so glad you did this post! I’ve been thinking about making my own “art” for several weeks. Well, ever since the new 2011 catalogs/magazines have been arriving and I’m loving how customizable they are! I can’t wait to see how you’rs turns out.. it just might give me the nudge to do my own. :)

  20. The abstract picture above Diane Keton’s charaters bed in Something’s Gotta Give is divine!! I have been seaching for one for a year now!!! Can’t wait to see what you find!

  21. Kate, you are doing great! Keep it up. It is always good to go outside of your comfort zone. When I was in AP Art in high school I did a concentration of one still life and painted it in 10 different famous artist styles. It was so much fun, especially Pollock. Good luck… can’t wait to see the finished product.

  22. SO exciting! Yes- I LOVE abstract art- especially nice big pieces above banquets or couches- I was a realist painter for a while- but my most recent collection in abstarct- and I love the movement and adaptability that abstract art has to it. I still think you should take me up on my offer of a painting;)…jk… On a more serious note- its awesome that you are painting it yourself! I CANT WAIT to see your finished piece!!!!

  23. This post has perfect timing! I’ve been pondering doing a large abstract in my dining room but have never done abstract (too much of a details person). I think i’ll bring out my paints this weekend and see if anything strikes me!
    Beautiful site!

  24. It’s funny that you would post about this now. Last weekend I bought a large canvas (36″ by 48″) to hang above our couch in the living room, and I’ve been hesitating over what I want to do with it. I’m leaning towards a Pollock-style abstract, as our style is more modern than contemporary (and most of the furniture is vintage MCM). I know what colors I want to use, but I can’t decide what the predominant color should be, either the dark cobalt that matches the pillows and lamps, or maybe black (or white)? I don’t want it to be too heavy, but I also want it to help ground the room.

  25. I think a lot of people find it meaningless and odd. I personally think abstract art is ridiculously cool. Can’t wait to see the final product.

  26. Love it and am taking an oil painting class right now. My goal is to have some large scale art to hang in my home.

  27. I love abstract art. I have to admit that I am biased. My sweetheart hubby is an abstract artist and recently had his first gallery showing. I love that I get to enjoy his work throughout my home.

  28. I love abstract art. I have tried to paint abstract pieces before and amazingly enough it is a lot harder than you would think. Mine have never turned out how I wanted. Yours looks great so far! Love the abstract inspiration images.

  29. Love the artwork! My wife and I disagree on Abstract versus still life / floral scenes though. We may have found a good original painter on Etsy that we can agree on, though!

    Great blog!

  30. I LOVE all the large abstract art and want to attempt my own too. Please keep us posted on how yours turns out and the process you took!

    MeggyD from Chasing Davies

  31. I LOVE abstract art!! I’ve also been wanting to paint my own, but since I’ve only done one painting, I really have no idea where to even start!! can’t wait to see your finished product!

  32. I love abstract art and there is one at Ballards I have been wanting. The price tag has kept me from buying it. So off to Michaels I went and bought a large canvas. I have yet to attack it, but I am anxious to see how yours turns out!

  33. Three years ago I would have told you I hate it. Lately it’s been growing on me. Today, after looking at all your beautiful examples I’m starting to love it. LOL I like the way the colors so softly blends together and emerges a different color and the way it brings color to a room without actually being an “image” – if that makes sense at all.

    I’ve played with the thought of trying my hand at it – – but have never had the nerve. I’m very impressed with yours and can’t wait to see it finished. Do you think there will be a tutorial perhaps? (wink, wink)

  34. I also love abstract art, but have left it too better painters than I. I went to art school for a short time, and love to paint, in fact it is one thing I would like to get back to.

  35. So many beautiful inspirational photos,I like abstract art and I think it adds a really nice decorative element to a room. To my surprise I find that I now like it mixed in with the whole vintage shabby chic look.

  36. Love them – DD has painted three to hang in our dining room / living room and I enjoy the compliments on her talents as much as I do looking at her pieces. We were able to snag a two for one sale at Michael’s for the large canvas sizes it sure helps.

  37. I cannot wait to see what you come up with. You are soooo talented and creative and have so much energy! You inspire me to get busy & I love, love LOVE your blog!!!

  38. I love abstract art as that is my style. I sometimes or I guess most of the tiime use a very liminted palette. So excited to see what you come up with Kate!!

    Art by Karena

  39. I completely love abstract art as a way to add colour without making an area look busy. I have painted a few for our home and they aren’t stealing the show but they’re perfect space fillers.

  40. I studied Art History in college, so I really enjoy abstract art. I love your inspiration photos! I think that the abstract art in such a large scale makes a big impact. I just started an acrylic painting class last night, so I will be practicing my painting skills around the house too!

  41. Prefer more realistic art, but abstract certainly has a place… and the photos you’ve shared prove that! :) I’m not artistic, but I have some ideas I want to play with, sort of a cross between abstract and geometric. Have fun with your project!

  42. Love this post. Great inspiration pics! Since I’m not a frilly type I always choose abstracts.

  43. I love some abstract art. I painted a large one a few years ago as a gift for my husband when I took a painting class and had a ball doing it. It’s fun to play around on the canvas without having anything really particular in mind. Your painting is looking great, Kate….the colors are perfect. Love the blues and turquoises! I look forward to seeing your finished masterpiece!

  44. I’m not the biggest fan of the abstract art that just looks like someone dipped their brush in paint and splattered it everywhere. But I LOVE the water color like abstract art that just looks like a beautiful nature scene that is a little out of focus. I think it gives a room a dream like or relaxed quality plus it is a great way to enjoy more color on your walls without being overwhelming.

  45. I’m already loving yours- the colors are beautiful. I don’t generally go for the really busy abstract art, but like Abby K, I like the water color look, very calming.

  46. I Love it Many years ago I did one and along the way of moving around many times growing up it was lost so I look forward to trying again its very therapautic…And my Lil guy loves to do his own painting as well lol. Have fun look forward to seeing the results. If you have any pointers with a neutral pallet with some chocolate colors thrown in email me. thanks

  47. I’ve been trying to find the time and the nerve to create a Rothko inspired piece! Love your collection of inspirations.

  48. I am so convinced I can paint abstract. Tried it. Failed. Have new respect for it – but still sure I can do it myself. Not sure where this confidence comes from…. saving painting classes for that someday I will do it burst of carftiness that will overtake me. Those kind of things always do – so I am sure I will get to it- someday. Until then, I judge, sigh, like it, judge some more. Waiting to break the cycle!

  49. I have not always liked abstract art probably because I’ve always loved antiques and traditional decorating. But in recent years I’m liking abstract art more & more, and a few years ago I even found a neat, small work (for $8) at a public consignment sale to benefit a local charity. I, like you, also would like to find a large abstract canvas piece to go over a sofa-width antique daybed. I’ve been considering attempting to paint one myself, but have never painted before. Keep us posted on how yours turns out & what the process is (type of canvas, paint, helpful tips, etc.). Thanks. Happy painting!

  50. So interesting to me, but for years could not wrap my heart around abstract art. As I’ve aged though, I find something so soothing about abstract art. I’ve been pondering all of this, trying to pinpoint what’s changed in my tastes? I’ve never painted one, but I’ve entertained the idea of doing so. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out– maybe I’ll be further inspired to create one of my own?

  51. I have never made abstract art. But with great inspiration photos like you shared, I think it can “easily” be done! Can’t wait to see your finished project.

  52. I am a HUGE fan of abstract art specially placed in a living room or dining room to add color and personality to a space…this is a great selection you’ve shared!

    – nancy

  53. i want to do this! can you PLEASE post a video, or step by step? i don’t want it to look like 7th grade art class. but i really want to try it, and i’d love some ideas on techniques before i start!

  54. I’ve been thinking the exact same thing after opening my last Ballard magazine! I ear-marked every one of those paintings and was thinking about how I need to build up the courage to just make one of my own! I’m excited to see your finished piece and (hopefully) a step-by-step tutorial! ;)


  55. Speaking as one who is a realist painter who dual-majored in studio art and art history, I HIGHLY commend you (and any other brave soul, for that matter) for venturing into the intimidating world of abstract art. I say intimidating because attempting to produce it always caused my head to nearly explode off of my shoulders. Kudos to you, girl!!!

  56. It is wonderful and the entire movement is so exciting. It is much more difficult then it looks. The famous and excellent abstract artists have schooled back grounds and are excellent draftsmen to begin with.

  57. love it, as long as it’s an actual piece and not a copy printed on canvas. It needs to have a balance, color and some texture ( which the copies greatly lack). Enjoy the process, I’m sure it will be fabulous.

  58. I adore some types of abstract art… I like the ones that are all about color and texture and movement without the distraction of recognizable things… Go hang out at where you can search by style AND color… Kinda like tearing pages out of magazines, if you start a gallery collection (free) of art you like, I bet that you’ll find you’re drawn to the same types of paintings and color over and over. I know I did! Can’t wait to see what YOU paint!

  59. Kate, I love the inspiration pieces of abstract art that you show, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what you are creating! I featured your blog at today. Love your creativity.

  60. OMG!! Kate, you read my mind! This is exactly what has been rolling around in my head for the last couple of weeks. I’ve never taken an art class and I don’t have your bravery to do it (yet!). Thanks for the inspiration! BTW, I love your painting so far. I’m hoping that you’ll share the details when it’s all finished.


  61. i love it! great way to add color to a room. i recently painted a piece for my living room and the lady making my window treatments requested one of her own! :) and you’re off to a great start…you might have people requesting original “centsational” paintings!

    *first time to comment…LOVE reading your blog! :)

  62. I have sooo wanted to paint a large scale abstract piece of art. All these years I keep saying “just do it” lol but…. i hold back for some reason… i guess i’m afraid of messing up or it not looking good lol of wasting money in the process….

    I would love to see how you complete yours!


  63. I like abstract art, especially when you can “kinda” recognize something – like the trees in one of the pieces shown. Have liked alot of the pieces David Bromstad does on Color Splash – when he creates a piece, uses water in a spray bottle to mute the shapes and colors. Would love to try!

  64. I love abstract art. I made several attempts at abstract art and it’s more difficult than one would think. I like the color mix you have on your canvas. Very peaceful.

  65. I think it’s awesome that you are creating your own art! I love pieces that are personal. I recently “created” a piece of art for our living room above our couch. I took a landscape photo that I took in Savannah, Ga (on a “second honeymoon” trip with my husband) and played with the filters in my camera software. We ended up choosing the color pencil filter and applied it to the photo. Once we achieved the desired affect we ordered it on canvas from a picture website. It turned out great! It’s not quite abstract, but it looks like artwork instead of an ordinary photograph. Good luck on your painting!

  66. Omg I have forgotten about my love for abstract art! How inspiring!!! I should try my hand at creating myself some abstract art :O

  67. I love abstract, at least the soft calming ones… And I have thinking awhile of doing one or two large ones myself. I have been kinda scared since I havent ever done any painting of anykind before, but I do so much crafting. So many different types of crafting! I cant wait to see yours!

  68. I’ve always wanted to do that (well, i’ve always wanted my husband to do that for me!). Way to make it happen, and a great image collection!

  69. I think it’s going to look great! I love abstract art and the bigger the better! All the pictures you posted are awesome. Large artwork like this makes the perfect statement. Can’t wait to see yours finished!

  70. I love the collection of photo’s you posted! I love abstract art and what you mentioned about the emotion it stirs… when I share potential art pieces with clients I always ask them how it makes them feel.

  71. Oh my’s paint, just give it a try.I years ago bought a canvas at JoAnn’s and used colors that I like soft and subdued tones for the bathroom.Everyone always asks who it is by to which I reply Me! If it comes out badly just paint over or apply something like shells/pebbles or any textured media that you have or collect.Heck if really bad toss it.I am a nurse no training in painting but it’s not brain surgery.Go for it!

  72. I have been wanting to do this too! I have a color palette, but not sure where to start. What kind of paint are you using? Any tips on how you got to this point in your painting. I like how it looks now?

    Your house is amazing!

  73. Hi, Centsational Girl! I love your topic! I too enjoy collecting “inspiration”. I have boxes and boxes of photos I’ve clipped from magazines and often use them to give me ideas for cool color palettes to paint my abstract art with. I like the way you said that painting abstract art is “use of color, brushstrokes and emotion”. As an abstract artist, I sometimes feel like I am harnessing not only my own emotion, but the emotions of the whole world and I paint with them all. Painting abstracts is incredibly healing for me and truly if you have a great palette and composition, almost anyone can produce a beautiful piece of art. I’d love to see how your painting came out! Thanks for the post. I like our blog! :)

  74. I recently have started painting as well! I primed the canvas with gesso and imbedded tissue paper into the gesso. I also made impressions into the gesso using items with texture (ribbon with holes, combs, etc). The painting is still progress (using acrylics), but it’s looking great so far!

    In a prior project, I used molding paste to create texture on the canvas. I combed lines through the paste. Then, I painted stripes in various colors using acrylics. It looks great! And you can’t resist touching the textured surface.

  75. Hi Kate, did you ever post about the finished painting? Was it a success? I just found this post and I’m looking for inspiration for my own dining room – I’d love to see your finished painting!


    • Hi Lucy, I never finished that painting no, it wouldn’t work for me, but I’m not giving up!

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