Almost all of the art I have created for our current townhouse & past apartments has been of the simple and graphic variety. I have talked about this before, but while I love "abstract" art, all of my attempts to make something awesome and abstract have revealed it's so much harder than it looks. When I need to create something big for our space, I love playing with repeating shapes to get something fun and bold that is relatively easy to "get right."
I have tried a few different methods for simple graphic paintings. In the above painting (which I ended up recovering because the color wasn't quite right) I just used my finger to dab different colors of paint on a yellow canvas. Here's a full tutorial. A different, but similar effect could be created by "stamping" with a cotton ball, sponge or cork soaked in paint.
Earlier this summer, I shared a circle painting that was completed in a similar method to the finger painting. Again, I used repeating shapes, a limited color palette and many layers to fill a space.
Triangles are another graphic shape I use over and over. By joining large triangles I created a pinwheel piece. (Tutorial here.) For this one, I used painters tape to get clean lines. In a "non-traditional" move for me, I used many different colors for this pinwheel. I could totally see something like this on a much larger scale with metiallic spray paint.
To turn a simple clay pot into something that makes a statement, I painted black and white triangles freehand. The shapes are far from perfect here, but because it's only two colors is not distracting.
Sometimes, I play with graphic art on a much smaller scale because it's so much easier to experiment before jumping into a large (and more expensive) project. The triangle painting above is from a set I made last year. This was a fun brush control challenge to get a bit better at freehand creating straight lines. Filling in these small spaces was a fun exercise and I love that a small painting brings color (and breaks up all the books) on our room divider bookshelf.
One of my favorite graphic pieces is super simple. I used copper leafing to recover an old canvas that didn't really work in our space any more. I like that the leafing process gives it a bit more texture than if it was just painted and that because it's just one color makes it makes a great backdrop to whatever I put in front of it on our mantle.
My last graphic art method is to just paint (or collage or draw or color) a simple shape, icon or symbol. In our kitchen, I needed something to help fill the big mirrored wall and decided to paint over an existing canvas with white paint and then add a black wine bottle right on top. I used a pencil first to give me an idea of the shape I was going for. If freehand isn't your favorite method, it would be easy to cut a template out of newspaper for something like this (or a symbol, letter or word). To hang art in front of a mirror, I stapled white ribbon to the back of the canvas and ran it up to the celing where I used one more staple to hold the ribbon into the plaster ceiling.
One of the reasons I think I am drawn to such simple art is that these projects are graphic, but quick and inexpensive. There is no emotional tie in that means years from now I'll have a hard time throwing out or painting over these projects. We are looking at lots of moves over the next decade and many changes. I like the idea that our art can and will change with us.