Jan 16, 2012

DIY Your Own Original Canvas Paintings: Ombre Drip Painting

I'm really excited to be writing today's post (well... as excited as I can be about anything at 6:30am) because I'm going to be sharing something I've been thinking about for a long time. Art. Specifically, canvas art. It really gives a cultured and collected feel to a space- it's perfect to add a little interest to a gallery wall, or to lean up against a wall, and it always creates the perfect backdrop for vignettes. 

BUT, it's pricey. And as much as I'm sure we would all love to have original paintings in our homes, it's not always in the budget. Especially for something large-scale.

I know what some of you are thinking. But I'm not an artist! Last time I painted something was in elementary school art class. Me too. Just hear me out.

I don't consider myself an artist. I would never, ever, ever compare the paintings I've done to someone who creates for a living. However, I love to do it. It's very affordable in comparison to purchasing original art, and the pieces I create add so much texture and beauty to our home. I'm starting a new series where I will teach you all that I've learned about painting and show you how to create your own (easy) paintings. You can do this! I promise. 

And it all starts today. I'm going to show you one of the easiest painting techniques today, and hopefully if you're still doubting your ability, this will convince you that it can be done.

Getting Started

You don't need a lot of supplies, but there are a few necessities. 
Paint. I've used oil, water, and acrylic. I would recommend starting with water because it's so forgiving and it dries quickly. Just because you're using water colors doesn't mean you need to create a typical water painting. The painting above was created with water paints- they're really very diverse. A small kit like this one, is a good place to start- you can buy similar ones at any craft store.

 Brushes. You can pretty much start with anything. I've even borrowed my son's crayola brushes a couple times! I have found that some big brushes like these are helpful for certain looks, but they aren't necessary.

Canvas or Canvas Paper. You can buy canvases at any craft store- save up coupons or wait for sales- or you can also buy canvas paper which is a little thicker grade and has the texture of a canvas. Canvas paper is good if you like the framed look. You can also stretch your own canvases, which we will (hopefully) get to one day.

Enough talk. Let's Paint! Today we're learning the Ombre Drip Painting technique.

Always start by painting your whole canvas one base color (I'm going with a light grey today). Even if you just use white, it will give the painting a more finished look, than just the bare canvas will. Never, ever forget your sides! If you're careful to paint the sides while you paint the rest, it will give your painting the look that it was painted on canvas and then stretched to the frame (which is what we want).

Add some texture. It depends on the painting, but I usually take a second base color and just add a little here and there to give it more texture.

Start with your darkest color and swipe large strokes of color across the top of your painting. Then use a shade lighter, and so on. I went with just the two shades, and then an even darker paint across the bottom. Just for fun. You have to just go with what you're feeling. Stick with what feels right and it will turn out.

Now for the drip part. Dip your fingers or brush in  some water and let a few drops fall. If you're doing a drip painting, it's VITAL that you use water paints, oil and acrylics won't mix with water, and nothing will happen. The next few images are the progression as I dripped more and more water.

And then once it dries, you'll get something like this.

And here's a side view, see how great it is when it wraps around the sides? (I'm not even going to try to explain away my messy counters.)

Here's another example of an ombre drip painting I did, this time in black and white. For this painting, I literally dumped glasses of water on the painting over and over to create much larger "drips". It's a small change, but it creates a totally different look.

Now what did I tell you? Anyone can do this. Just trust yourself. I think there's something extra special about a space where the art is created by those who live in the home. Plus it will definitely keep your budget in check, and who doesn't love that?

Be sure to check back because I have lots of other great techniques to share! Love you all-
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  1. wow~love you for posting about painting! just found your blog and loved your homemade desk. bought canvases and have been to scared to start painting, now i will!!!! so cool, thanks again!

    1. Oh, I am so glad! Don't be afraid, you can totally do it. I'd love to see pictures of what you create!

  2. Jenna -- I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you ARE an artist! QUITE the artist. ;-) Those are amazing! I would totally buy those. They are beautiful and unique. Wow. I will definitely be checking back daily for more painting tips! I have painted a couple of canvases and they do decorate our home -- I know what you mean about it being special when the art is created by those who actually live in that space. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Maria, thank you so much. You are so kind. It really does make a space extra special, right? Thanks again!

  3. Ooh this is a fantastic how to Jenna! I love it and I love the look. I would love to try this one day :)
    Nancy xo

  4. I've been meaning to paint something for the house and this is a great idea! I love the idea of creating a custom painting - it's both special and budget friendly :). Love yours!

  5. I know you used watercolor for the top layers, but what did you use as the base? I'm wanting to do one similar to your second painting.

    1. Jenna,

      You can use either acrylic or oil paint as a base if you don't want it to run with the water like the top layers. I believe I used acrylics. Oil is great, but keep in mind that it will take at least a few days to dry before you can add the next layer. Have fun!

  6. Love this idea, and tried it out a few times, but I'm really trying to acheive the effect and color saturation that you have in the brown photo. My question is, do you let the watercolor pain dry before you start applying water or do you do it while it is still wet? How think of a layer of water color do you apply?

  7. I'm so happy I found this post! I've been planning on doing a drip painting for my living room feature piece but wasn't sure of exactly how to get the drips. Can't wait to try it out for myself :-)


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