Friday, August 5, 2016

Creating Abstract Backgrounds, Exploding with Color, Textures + Metallics

Hi everyone! Martice Smith here, sharing a fun and easy way to make abstract backgrounds, full of saturated, metallic colors, textures and bold mark making. Got 30 minutes to play? Great! Today, I’m honored to share my process for creating these beauties... 
Imagine sitting at your art table, eager to paint with your clean paint brushes, your handmade texture tools picked out, and your favorite beverage chilling right beside you.

Suddenly, all of reality smacks you in the forehead. WHAM! Bam! (That’s a double K.O.)

You have no idea how to start, which StencilGirl stencils to use, what paint color gets the most attention and you’re pressed for time because your 10 month old baby nephew is visiting for a play date.

The frozen lasagna you intended to heat up for dinner is now room temperature and a little bit of guilt is creeping on you for scarfing down those four homemade butter biscuits from Grandma Viv - which were to be served at dinner.

Man, oh man! Two hours after daydreaming and admiring your art supplies, your play date hasn’t even begun.

Sound familiar?

Well, guess what, my friends? There’s no rule that says that you have to create a masterpiece every time you sit down to paint. (I call that bologna, spa-lo-ney.)

Set a timer for 30 minutes and let's pLaY!

Supplies to Gather:


Supplies + Tools:
  • Sheets of Watercolor paper or white cardstock
  • Acrylics + Metallic fluid acrylics (DecoArt)
  • Paintbrushes + paint palette
  • Paper towels + container of water
STEP 1 // Black + Two complementary colors
Sometimes, I don’t want to paint any subject in particular. I enjoy the process of splashing paint on paper, smearing ink, and journaling my thoughts with a chunky marker.

I start by painting black gesso on one side of my page. Use random, large free-flowing strokes to make things simplier. Grab different sized brushes to add more variety to your brushstrokes.  

Next, add two complementary colors in random areas on the page. The messier, the better!
TIP: Play with variations of colors. For example, a warm peach color instead of red. Pair this with a mint green instead of green straight from the paint bottle.   

STEP 2 // Add stenciling
Move the stencil around to find spots that are pleasing to your eyes. Paint through small sections of the stencil using a sponge pouncer.

Rotate your page! I like to rotate before I add another element. This prevents me from becoming too attached to one way of looking at it.

Yes, I know it’s hard to do this! You might prefer landscape orientation over a vertical one; you may admire the texture created from your brushstrokes and you’re hesitant to cover them up with paint. Whatever you do, don’t stop here! I encourage you to keep pushing through!

This quote inspires me to do just that: “You gotta be willing to let go of something you like in order to create something you LOVE”.
STEP 3 // Add modeling paste through a stencil
Scrape the paste through your stencil with a palette knife.

Modeling paste takes a while to dry, depending on how much you apply. The thicker the application, expect a longer drying time. (I usually save this step until I feel like I'm almost finished decorating the background.)
STEP 4 // Add metallic paints
Dip your paintbrush in water, then into your metallic fluid acrylic. Brush onto random areas of your background. I love the look of metallic paint on top of the black gesso and especially over the modeling paste!

Allow the metallic paint to run in various directions. You could: tilt your page, use a drinking straw to blow along the trail of the paint, or add a few drops of water to create a glazed effect. Do one or do them all. The techniques are endless!
STEP 5 // Use a pens + markers to journal your thoughts.
Now, your abstract background is complete! You might be wondering, ‘What do I do with these?’ Here are a few ideas:
  • Photograph and crop them to use for digital quotes
  • Cut them up into ATCs and give them away as gifts or bookmarks
  • Sew them into handmade journals with metallic thread
  • Use a circle punch and embroidery floss to make gift tags

Thank you for visiting us today! I hope you enjoy making your very own abstract backgrounds and remember, you don’t need to sacrifice hours or an entire day to make something you love.
To learn more about Martice and her mixed media art tutorials, please visit her website or follow the inspiration trail on her Instagram (@MarticeSmithArt).


  1. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your process and your funny thoughts on making time to create.

    1. Thank you, Amy! Yes, the process is so much better when it's fun + playful!

  2. I can see magic happening at your fingertips! Beautiful!

    1. I love your description, Cecilia! Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed my tutorial!

  3. Fabulous sharing of ideas. Love your philosophy and process. Thanks for sharing

    1. You're very welcome, Lisa! I appreciate your sweet compliment. There are so many things you can do with these backgrounds. Each one is unique + everytime I create one, I discover something new!

  4. Fabulous sharing of ideas. Love your philosophy and process. Thanks for sharing

  5. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Denise! We'd love to see your abstract backgrounds, too! Which part is your favorite? (I can get carried away with those metallics!)

  6. Thank you for sharing your creative process. I can relate! Great ideas and techniques that I will use in my backgrounds. Thanks!!

    1. Hahaa! I'll try to save a biscuit for you, then! Thank you for your encouragement, Kathy. Yes, use these techniques + let us know how it goes.

  7. Replies
    1. Aww, thanks! It was my pleasure, Andrea. You gotta try those metallics over the modeling changer, for sure!

  8. Hi Martice - great guest post and ideas!

    1. Hi Stephanie! Thanks for commenting! I had so much fun creating these backgrounds...I wanna keep them as is right now so I can admire the patterns + run my fingers across all that texture! Oooo weee!

  9. I can feel your free spirit thru the photos, beautiful.

    1. Yes! Free spirit, indeed! Thank you so much for your positivity + shining your light, Gerrie! ❤️

  10. This is so awesome and needed! I loved reading this post and looking at the process. How fantastic!

  11. Pictures are worth a thousand words


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