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How To Make An Abstract Painting inspired by Piet Modrian

Artists of Any Age Can Make This Cool Art!

If you love geometry, lines, and cool colors, you'll have a great time with this painting! You may recognize Piet Mondrian's very famous painting that's done with primary colors and looks like boxes, but for this one, we felt inspired by another very famous painting style he made.

About the Artist: Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian is a French artist who lived from 1872-1944. He first became well-known from his landscape paintings of trees with lots of branches. Then, his style started evolving to be a little less detailed and more abstract. The trees go from having lots of bold colors to being more like a black and white painting with less detail. From there, his style turned more geometric with branches that look more horizontal and vertical, and were more simplified. Then, his style evolved to today's inspiration, which is more geometric. Finally, his style evolved to the very geometric style with primary colors you may recognize today! Mondrian's style became more rigid, simplified, and followed rules he set for himself. Art can change a lot over time!

What You'll Need

- Canvas

- Acrylic paints

- T Square or Ruler

- Pencil

- Skinny Paintbrushes

- Paper plate for your palette

- Water Jar

- Paper towels

Step 1: Draw Your Composition

First, grab your ruler and pencil to start drawing your composition. We're going to start by drawing a horizontal line at the top of your canvas. Then, draw another horizontal line across the canvas, and do a bunch of lines of different sizes all the way down. But, try not to draw lines that touch the edge of the painting. Finally, add a few dashed lines in between your gap lines. They don't have to be evenly spaced, since this is an abstract painting. Try to make sure your lines are all horizontal and not diagonal.

Now, flip your canvas to the other direction. Now, we're going to draw long horizontal lines the same style! Make sure you go across the canvas without touching the edge of the painting. Go all the way down with lots of dashes and lines in between each other. You don't want to have too many narrow areas, but you do want to cover your canvas with lots of these lines.

Next, we're going to try to close up some of the shapes that are still open. Try to close spaces that look like they're almost squares or rectangles until you have a bunch of shapes that are closed. You can also erase some lines in the middle of shapes to open them up, too.

ADVANCED CHALLENGE: If you're the kind of person who likes to take their time and pay lots of attention to detail, make sure to follow along with the video and add lines and shapes. If you're going for a more simple look, try using less lines to make your shapes bigger.

Step 2: Paint the Lines Black

Now that you've finished drawing your composition, you can put away your pencil and ruler. Grab your paintbrush and palette and use some black paint for the next step! Mondrian always used black paint for his lines, so we're going to do that too since he's our inspiration.

PRO TIP: To get very solid black lines, use just the tip of your paintbrush with some paint on it. Start this painting by working from one side over to the other side so you don't rub any paint or lines.

Start by painting all of your vertical lines on one side. It seems like a lot, but we promise, it'll pay off and look really cool! Once all of your vertical lines are done, rotate your canvas and now do all of your new vertical lines. It'll start looking like a giant tic-tac-toe!

PRO TIP: We recommend painting up and down (vertically) because that's how we have the most control, but if you have more control painting side to side (horizontally), then try that out! Your painting is your style, so do whatever feels best for you.

Once you see all your lines painted, take a look and see if it needs any more shapes. If you want to add more rectangles or squares, you can add them now.

Step 3: Paint the Shapes

Now, let's look at our paints and decide on the colors we want to use. We definitely need white, so make sure you have that on your palette. You can pick 2 or 3 colors for your painting, depending on what you want to do. You don't need a ton of color for this painting, so be mindful when you're painting your canvas.

Now, let's get ready to paint! In every single shape, you're going to mix white + another color. You can fill it in with a combination of your colors, or just one of your colors. Don't worry if you slightly go over your lines. Instead of rinsing out your brush after every shape, use your color mix for a bunch of shapes (maybe 5-6) until it runs out. Then, dip with white and another color combination and paint more shapes.

PRO TIP: If you want to be really careful of your black lines, try inlining your shapes. That's when you paint the lines inside your shape and then color in the shape. This helps you make sure your black lines stay super crisp!

The goal as we paint is to try and make each shape a little bit of a different color- you don't want lots of shapes next to each other that are the same color. You want them all to be different values and color tones.

Step 4: Paint the Corners and Background

When you get to one of your corners, use light colors that blend together into different mixes of the colors you chose. Keep using white just like you did when filling in your shapes. It doesn't have to be one color in the corner, you can mix as you go. This painting takes a lot of time to get all the way filled in, so don't get frustrated if it's taking you a long time. It took us a long time, too! But, it's totally worth it because of how cool this painting looks when we're finished.

Step 5: Thin Out Your Lines

If you have any really thick lines, go over them one more time with a little bit of the color in your shape to thin it out. Mondrian's style was using a lot of thin black lines in his painting, and they aren't perfectly boxy lines, so it's ok if you go over it with your paint. In fact, that's how you get the Mondrian style!

The Final Product!

And Remember... Keep Making Cool Art!

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