Easy DIY Abstract Landscape Painting

07.28.11 By //

I would like to begin this post by saying that I am not a painterly sort of artist, at least not the kind required for this sort of project…so, that being said, who cares! I thought I would take you along with me on my journey to create an abstract landscape painting. The good, the bad, and the ugly…. I hope you give something like this a try, especially if you have always wanted to (like me) and have just never sat down to try!


STRYOFOAM – I used 3 – 12”x 36” panels

DecoArt MagicKote


DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paints (I used almost 20 different colors, including the several of the new colors: Coral Blush, Purple Wave, Sea Glass, and Mulberry)

Paint Brush (one you are comfortable with, I use a 1”)


Gorilla Duct Tape

Before we can begin painting we need to ready our materials! This is one of the three panels I will be working on today.The directions on the MagiKote suggest using a something akin to a putty knife to spread the stuff onto your surface, and I had trouble with this so I began with a foam brush. This was easier to do the initial spread and then allowed me to use a putty knife (actually I used a plastic spatula) for the 2nd and third layers. Rather than painting it on, I sort of bounced it into place. This helped to fill some of the deep areas in the Styrofoam. Let each coat dry for many hours in between and be sure each coat is spread thinly! I gave it a good 24 hours between coats.

After 3 coats and a light sanding, I was ready to get down to business with my paints! I jumped right into the what will be the top panel of my triptych. I am a put the paint on the panel kind of gal and blend it from there apparently, since that is what I did most of this project! A bit of white, a drop of turquoise and a drop of Sea Glass was what I used for the upper most section of the sky which I will dilute in 2 additional sections down to white near the bottom. A kind of dark, medium, and light thing if you will.

I used the same kind of brush action for the entire project. I used a bit of a pouncey or stippling motion to apply a color and a bit of a slight gentle sweep in a circular motion to blend.

Once I had my sky tones in place, I needed some darkish clouds… I used a slate gray and a beige mixed with a drop of Avocado and lightened by white. I used the same pouncey sweeping motion to stipple them on and then gently blend them.

To move down to the next panel I placed them adjacent to each other and brought some of the bottom-most color of the top panel onto the top of the next panel to bring a bit of unity. In this instance it was a very light version of my sky color (teeny tiny bit of turquoise and sea glass green mixed with white). Once I had them matched up I continued to lighten even further to a bright white which would be about where I am ready to bring in my horizon line!

And so I did! I started with a light slate gray (slate gray mixed with white) and just gently ran my brush in a horizontal line across my panel. I made sure to try and stay inconsistent in my line so that it might look more natural. Then I ran a darker layer of the slate gray (mixed with the tiniest bit of black) just underneath in a few areas along the horizon line.

And then some blue in varying shades (dark and medium tones) and blended in sweeping strokes, and again in just a few areas, not everywhere. Then I decided to bring in some hilly regions (you can see the beginning of that in the image above in brown, and even more of that in the image below).

I wasn’t perfecting anything at this point and in fact I was trying very hard to stay loose and not focus so hard on what I was doing. I fell like my mind over thinks things and this is the opposite of what you want, just go with it, and don’t be afraid to just wing it and make a sweeping line of paint however you wish!

I filled in that hilly area I painted with brown and then started adding in some dark (black) and then light (gray) and then I just went crazy adding layer after layer of color for shading and depth.

I tried to add highlighting along the top edge and deeper shades nearer to the bottom of this hilly region, and of course some plant life, maybe even wild flowers or fun and colorful play of the shadows with plums and blues and greens. There aren’t any rules here if you haven’t been taught any, and perhaps that is best!

Onto the grassy meadows between the hills with shades of green and yellow, with a touch of blue here and there.

Always pouncing and sweeping in a circular motion to blend colors along the way.

When I was ready to move onto the 3rd panel I did something similar to what I did above when I moved onto the 2nd panel only before I began to pull color down I painted the entire 3rd panel in slate gray. I did this to give the lowest panel a deeper hue even though I would be using many of the same shades of green. Then rather than pulling the color down, I actually began adding a bit of color right near the bottom of the 2nd panel and brought it down onto the 3rd panel. A darker shade of plant life than I had previously added to the 2nd panel and a new section on the 3rd panel.

Once I had made several areas this darker teal shade and mixed in a bit of grass green, I moved down into my next hilly section. I basically laid out all of the areas of the 3rd panel that would be dark and was planning on blending them all using the lighter shades in a future step.

I shaded the lower hills in a similar fashion as above by making them a solid brown, adding black and then highlighted areas in blue on the right side of the panel as you can see above, and in a plum shade on the left side as you can see below.

To begin blending the remaining green portion of the lower panel I simply added some yellowy shades and sage to blend with the greens I had already laid down. The paint in those areas was already dry, but whn you lay another color over the top it changes the hue you end up with in each area.

And then I blended, pounced, and blended some more until all the greens and yellows were moderately blended but not quite so much as to make pea soup of course. You want some of the individual areas to remain in different shades and hues otherwise it would be strange looking, don’t you think?

Once I was finished with the painting itself, it was onto the hanging I would go!

I used my Dischangers to hang these fine friends of mine with the knowledge I would have to secure them using heavy duty tape, of course!

Up they went and centered well on my very empty space above the mantle! I couldn’t be more proud of myself for finally just giving this a go. It’s awfully tough to find the time to sit down and paint (or stand as was my case) but it’s so completely worth it and very therapeutic (I need lot’s and lot’s of therapy since beginning this blogging endeavor of mine with a toddler in tow, someone should have warned me)!

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