diy artWall art can make a huge visual impact on blank walls, but many store-bought art pieces are expensive. Fortunately, there are many techniques for do-it-yourself wall art that are cheap and easy, even for non-artists.

One of the biggest advantages to creating your own art (besides saving money) is that you can perfectly match your decor to the room’s color scheme and instantly bring visual unity to a room.

DIY art on canvas

Modern tape DIY art in a dining room. © casasugar

Generally, you want to avoid freehand drawing that tries to “look” like something: stick with either abstract designs or use existing designs that are difficult to mess up.

Stencils: Anyone can use a stencil to create professional-looking designs. You can print designs you find online on a stiff paper, cut out the shape and fill in the stencil with whichever art material you choose, or you can buy pre-made stencils at craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby or on Etsy.

Geometric designs with tape: This is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to make art. Simply use masking tape to block off areas of a canvas and paint over the open areas. To create more visual interest, you can use layers and multiple colors or textures. A very simple design is shown at right.

Abstract: Abstract art can essentially be whatever you want it to be: any mix you want of lines, shapes, colors, textures, etc. Generally, it’s best to stick with simple designs.

Decoupage with fabric or paper: Use fabric or paper you love and decoupage it onto a canvas with a clear paste like ModgePodge. You could use a stencil to cut out a design to paste on top of the background or arrange the fabrics/papers themselves into an attractive design.

Framed homemade artwork

Framed page from 19th century magazine. © 2008 Joe Wolf

Picture frames instantly make any art look more sophisticated. Framed art looks best in groupings of odd numbers, especially in threes and fives.

Newspaper articles or book pages: Used bookstores are great sources of vintage magazines, books and newspaper articles. Consider framing vintage covers of your favorite books or a favorite poem or article.

Mementos: Arrange souvenirs of fond memories, such as ticket stubs, postcards, pictures or wrappers on a flat surface. Glue them down or paste over them with a decoupage glue.

Magazine or calender pictures: A glossy photo from a magazine or calendar that you love can be cut out and framed as a work of art on its own.

Hanging collections of objects

Ornate, vintage mirror collection as art. © epicture

Where a single item can look cluttered or messy if it isn’t large, a collection of smaller items looks intentionally and is perceived by the eye as “one” piece of art. Common objects that are arranged on the wall include:

  • Vintage plates
  • Needlepoints and hand-embroidered cloths
  • Textiles like old-fashioned handkerchiefs
  • Ornate picture frames
  • Small mirrors

Cheap DIY art sources and materials

Decorative fabric covering found canvases. [Jonnie Andersen @]

Decorative fabric covering found canvases. [credit: Jonnie Andersen]

Making your own art doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful. Secondhand stores and free or cheap used goods are a perfect way to experiment with your artistic side and create something amazing without spending much money.

Here are a few suggested DIY art materials to look for:

  • Used picture frames from secondhand stores: A quick sanding, followed by painting or staining, can make old frames attractive again, and they can bring a sense of unity to multiple frames.
  • Old books, magazines, etc. from used bookstores can be extremely cheap and provide either inspiration or material for your DIY art.
  • Art canvases and vintage artwork from garage sales and estate sales can either be used as is or altered (painted over, etc) to create the result you want.