DIY Mondrian


Craig and I are fond of fine art.  Unfortunately we do not have the income stream to support our love for it.  When Craig and I first started dating we went to art shows and whatnot and I fell in love with Monet’s San Giorgio Maggio painting.  But, like I said, we were both broke college students.  So Craig got a canvas and some oil paints, then painted something similar for me! You can see it (and an attempt at a Van Gogh) in this photo from when we first moved  into our house.  We are no strangers to making obvious forgeries of fine art.


Another thing that we got when we first moved into the house was a HUGE 4×6′ canvas.  But then we got busy, and it ended up in the garage, and we didn’t bother to ever do anything with it.  But since I got started on this redecorating kick, started by my mom’s visit and subsequent repainting of the kitchen/dining/living/family room, I finally knew exactly what I wanted to do with the canvas and what colors to paint it.  Great success!  In case you aren’t familiar with Piet Mondrian’s work, he was a Dutch painter in the early 20th century, and while he did many different compositions, he became famous for his geometric works with names such as “Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow.”  Here you can see a couple Mondrian pieces from MOMA or the Metropolitan behind the Brancusi sculpture from when we were in NYC a few years ago.


First I figured out the dimensions and sketched it up.  Mondrian generally used primary colors of red, yellow, and blue, plus black and white, but we wanted something that would fit within the colors that we were using in the house.  I used graph paper so I could easily replicate the dimensions on my canvas with a ruler.


Then I mocked it up using MS Paint to verify that I liked the way that the colors interacted with each other.


Then I hauled the canvas out of the garage and took the plastic off of it.


It was too big to really go anywhere but the kitchen counter, so it went there!


Then I got to measuring and sketching out lines with a pencil.  I was initially going to paint black stripes where I wanted lines, tape over them with frog tape, then paint the colors in.  Unfortunately I didn’t quite think through trying to cover black with lighter colors(and not too much thickness), so upon discussing the method of approach we figured that out and decided to do it the hard way.  That involved painting up to (or nearly up to) the lines I’d drawn with colors, letting it dry, then masking off the colors to paint black in.


It was time consuming.  Really time consuming. I probably spent 6+ hours taping and measuring and making sure the black looked straight.  I also learned that the frame is not in fact straight and can not be trusted.  I ended up using calipers and a good straight edge to check line thickness and straightness.  It was a project that required a steady hand and a great deal of patience.


Finally I finished taping (and triple checking to be sure that the lines looked straight and the tape was stuck down properly.  So I got to painting it.  It took 2 coats of black paint, and then I immediately pulled the masking tape off to help keep the lines smooth and avoid having it dry and rip off.


Here it is drying last night.

I was going to hang it vertically on the first wall you see when you walk in our front door, but due to only having 8 foot ceilings, it looked a little weird, and when the dogs started wrestling, they bumped into it, and I did NOT want them destroying it, so we went horizontal over our sofa.


Cost breakdown –
4×6′ primed canvas (on sale) – $48
1 roll 1″ frog tape $8
Misc sample pots of latex wall paint – $0 (we had all of these already)

Total –
$56 & 8+ hours

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