Kandinsky Inspired Black Canvas Painting Tutorial

abstract art black canvas painting tutorial


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This blog is the Part 1 of 4 Tutorials for the January Craft in Style Subscription Box. You can find the additional 3 tutorials for January, previous box tutorials, more about this box, and other Craft in Style Boxes here.

Do you love abstract art? Or want to make something that’s going to look fun on any wall? You have to try this Wassily Kandinksky inspired abstract art painting!

It’s perfect for beginners and a no stress way to learn how to paint. So let’s make it!

sketch your painting before you paint

Supplies to Make a Kandinsky Inspired Black Canvas Painting

January 2023 Craft in Style Subscription Box
2 x 8 inch Square Black Canvas
An Array of Acrylic Paint (I used White, Magenta, Crimson, Lemon Yellow, Viridian, Pool Blue, and Black)
An Array of Acrylic Paint Brushes
Painter’s Palette
Gold Gilding + Disposable Brush
Water + Paper Towels
Optional: Box Cutter
Fairy Lights
Layers of Learning Roll a Kandinsky Sheet

Plus, I recommend having paper towels and a cup of water to rinse your brushes. Be sure to use a cup that you don’t mind messing up with paint.

sketching of the kandinsky inspired painting

Who is Wassily Kandinsky?

Kandinsky is a Russian painter and mixed-media artist who was born in 1866. In his early years, he was interested in folk art and church like pieces that had a dark background with light inside. But it was more of a personal interest as he was set to become a professor of law. As he approached his 30s he became more interested in abstract art. There’s a great story that Kandinsky found a painting of his upside down and was fascinated. After spending a lot of time with this upside down painting, it sparked his passion for abstract art.

After creating an array of abstract paintings and mixed media pieces and growing the style and format theoretically, he started to put his passion toward teaching. He was teaching in Russia when in 1921, Kandinsky was invited to go to Germany to attend the Bauhaus of Weimar by its founder, architect Walter Gropius.

Several Circles, 1926, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City Public Domain, Link

The Bauhaus is a famous German Art School that progressed modern art and it’s ideals. The Bauhaus was operational from 1919 to 1933 and combined crafts, fine art, architecture, design and art theory into a full study.

Kandinsky taught basic design, color theory, painting and psychology and more.

close up of the acrylic paint layer of a abstract painting

How to Paint Like Kandinsky

Kandinsky likened painting to composing music, writing, “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

To start your own Kandinsky inspired painting, think about painting like you are making music. And try to avoid any representation in your shapes. Just see them for what they are – color, line, and form.

His object-free paintings display spiritual messages like sounds, emotions and a combination of sensations.

layer one of abstract art black canvas painting

Setting the Mood

To set the mood for these paintings put on one of your favorite playlists. If you want to go Classical like Kandinsky, try this Youtube Classical Playlist here. I also like these chill beats that you can listen to on Youtube as well.

And here’s a Pop Shop America playlist of chill beachy sounds. These songs always help me to feel relaxed!

Once you have your music on, try to relax and remember that making this type of abstract painting is about the experience.

making squares on top of circles abstract art painting

Keep a Sketch Pad Nearby

Although these paintings can be painting intuitively, it’s always a nice idea to have a sketch pad nearby so you can jot down shapes that you like or any thoughts you have.

You can always change your mind – or even paint over your designs on canvas if you like.

how to make wavy lines on an abstract painting

Try Using the Roll a Kandinsky Game

If you feel uncomfortable starting, try using the Layers of Learning Roll a Kandinsky game. It’s such a cool way to isolate shapes and see them differently.

kandinsky inspired abstract art painting tutorial

You can start by rolling a shape and then sketching it in pencil on your back canvas. I recommend making your larger items in the background and smaller items in the foreground.

make a checkerboard in white abstract art painting

Use Larger Brushes for Large Areas

When you are ready to paint your first objects, you may want to start with a larger brush too. You won’t be able to get as much detail, but you can work faster by using your larger brushes while you are working on larger background shapes.

continue to layer shapes abstract painting tutorial

Never Use Paint Straight from the Tube

Well, never say never, but always remember that you have a world of color at your fingertips! You can add white to any color to brighten or lighten the color. You can add back to any color to darken it. And you can make yellows into peach and greens into turquoise with just a little bit of blending.

Always go beyond your palette when you are working on a painting like this.

finish painting an abstract art black canvas painting

Add White to Translucent Paint

Many paints will be more translucent than you like. If you want to make a paint more opaque add a touch of white or a touch of gray – whatever looks better. Most whites will make the translucent more opaque.

It will lighten it too so be sparing with your white and gray.

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Layer 4+ Coats of Paint

For any painting, you will likely need 2+ coats of paint. Ordinarily, you will start with an underpainting – just an outline or a loose painting of the object in one of the dominant colors of that shape.

Then you can begin to layer more depth of color and finer lines as you go. You can see this fully in effect in our Flower Bouquet Black Canvas Painting Tutorial here.

how to make a fairy light black canvas painting

Layer Shapes and Shapes

Continue to layer shapes. Add squares inside of wavy lines or circles inside of other circles. The more that you layer shapes on top of other shapes or inside of shapes, the more depth you give and the closer you can come to have a painting that feels finished.

The blank space also looks gorgeous. Unlike white canvas, black canvas looks finished and totally cool. So you don’t have to cover the entire canvas.

Once you’ve added enough shapes, allow the paint to dry thoroughly. Acrylic paint dries fast so this should just take 30 minutes or so.

how to make a light up black canvas painting

How to Add Fairy Lights to the Back

A fun way to make your Kandinsky Inspired Black Canvas Painting different than a regular painting is to add lights to the back. Then you use it for mood lighting or a night light in your hallway. The lights will be perfect for any place on the painting you want to highlight. Or any large white areas.

All you need to do is use a box cutter to make small holes where you would want the lights to go. If you don’t have a box cutter, a nail works perfectly too!

finished kandinksy inspired abstract art painting

Then place your lights behind the painting and poke the lights through the back to show on the front. And viola! Your very own modern art painting!

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