DIY Lulie Wallace Flower Paintings

Monday, May 4, 2015

how to DIY a Lulie Wallace abstract flower painting
Yes, even though I have literally not painted anything besides walls and furniture ever, I painted those. Yes, I'm going to show you how to also. It doesn't matter that you "can't paint" or "aren't artistic." If you have been obsessing over Lulie Wallace but don't have a budget for original artwork (although some of her pieces are within reach at under $500) then just believe me, you've got this! Imagine I'm holding your hand and cheerleading you through the whole thing, email me if you need to, come over if you're local. This was so fun I really want to share it with you.

Don't you just love her paintings? And her designs for Anthropology? They may make me feel a little obsessive. Like, must. have. ALLOFTHEM. Let's look at some of my favorite Lulie originals just to get excited about our project.

There is just happiness coming off these paintings in waves. I can't get enough of them! And here are the two paintings I tried to recreate for myself.

In case you were wondering, my thoughts on copying are really well expressed in this article. Basically, it's fine to copy other artists for your own learning and enjoyment, people have been doing it forever. Think of the art students you see with their sketchbooks at any museum you visit. Just don't, you know, sign Lulie Wallace to your painting and try to sell it. Hang on your wall, yes; list on Etsy, no.

So okay, let's get started! Gah,I'm so excited for you! This is going to be so much fun! And I don't want to hear any more blah blah blah about how you can't. Trust me, you can. Here is your supply list. Go get it and come back.


A printed color picture of the painting
you want to copy. I just printed one at home.
Here's mine.
A canvas in whatever size you want.
I used one like this that was on clearance
for $3.95. You can see the staples on the side.

Acrylic craft paints. The super cheap $1 ones.
I like these because they had stickers with
the colors on top. Fancy.
Stand in front of the paint section with your
printed picture and choose paints that look
close to the ones in the painting. Get a BIG bottle
of white. Don't try to get every shade of each
color, you will mix your own lighter and
darker shades by adding white or other
colors. Get a bottle of Gold paint. Don't 
forget that and have to go back.

A package of inexpensive craft paint brushes.
Find one with a few different size brushes,
a large one for the background and
some smaller ones for the flowers.
Mine cost about $6.
Also get a pencil to sketch your design,
and a cup of water and 
some paper towels to clean your brushes
between colors.

Okay, I think you're ready.

The first step is to very lightly outline the painting onto your canvas. This is in no way a detailed drawing; it is more like a cartoon outline. Don't stress, for flowers draw circles. You are mostly just blocking out the spaces for things. Most of Lulie's paintings have a table with a container on it with flowers in the container. It helps to mentally divide your canvas into thirds and consider how she placed these three main elements. Does the table take up the bottom 1/3 or 1/4 of her canvas? Do the flowers go about 2/3 of the way up the canvas? Make yours match as closely as possible-but relax about getting it perfect-her look isn't even supposed to be perfect.
 Now you will paint in the big blocks of color, namely the background, the vase, and the area for the flowers. I used my larger paint brush for this and mostly painted in little half circle strokes. I kept my paint on the thick side and mixed my colors by putting a blob of white on my plastic plate and then putting little blobs of each of the two greens I had next to it. I would dip my brush in the white and then pull a little of the greens over and swirl them around together. 

I like how it looks to have parts of the canvas darker and parts lighter so as I reloaded my brush I didn't worry about mixing it the same each time. Variety is the spice of life, right?! Also, not being a perfectionist keeps us from going crazy.
In my inspiration painting the pitcher is white, but plain white paint wasn't showing up on my canvas so I added a little grey to it.

Also, if you look closely at my inspiration painting you can see that there is a bit of a pinky/beige "halo" around the flowers.
Lulie's beautiful original
I don't know how she created that but to replicate it I simply painted a pale pink over the whole flower area. On my first try I left white spaces where I planned to put my flowers and leaves but on my second try I thought it was easier to paint the whole area pink and then paint the flowers over it.

Here's my first one.
Here's my second one. You can see I filled in a lot more of the "halo" color on this one. It just needs to dry for 10 minutes or so before you start painting flowers over it. Also, do you dig how my easel is a kitchen chair with a book holding the painting up?
So now you have your four big areas painted and it's time to start adding details. I wanted to do my pitcher so I did that first using a little brush to outline and add the little dots. The gold paint makes for a pretty outline and I used it throughout the painting to give it the sketch like quality. I obviously didn't copy the original exactly because I just couldn't be that precise.
Next I started painting in some of the leaves. You can mix up different shades of green by adding white or blue to your basic green. After finishing a leaf you can go back with a little white to add highlights or darker green to add variation. While the paint is wet the colors blend nicely so just keeping working it until you like it. Or move on if you can't get it how you doesn't have to be perfect.

About this time you will be bugged that your colors don't turn out just like Lulie's and all I can say is that you have to let it go. We are not famous artists, we are just happy to look at her work and make a little tribute to it for our own homes. Once I had copied her placement and general color palette I had to stop looking so much at the original and just do what looked nice to me so that I wouldn't get frustrated. 

Now paint some flowers. They are mostly blobs of color that you will add detail to with your gold outlining. 

My plastic plate paint holder was a big mess by now.
But I was almost done and that was pretty exciting! Here is and up close pic so you can appreciate how not perfect everything is but how it looks nice when it's all done (and you take a few steps back :-) ) 
Here is the almost finished painting with the grey background pattern in progress.
And here it is all done and hanging in my bedroom. This was ridiculously satisfying and I cannot encourage you enough to try it. So many of my friends have said they couldn't do this but I know that they can. You can too! It is so worth the small investment of time and money to experience the fun of making something beautiful yourself. Of course it won't be an exact copy of the original, but that's what makes it yours.
DIY Abstract Art
This is my bedroom but my end plan for this painting was to hang in my bathroom with the the second painting I did. I followed the same steps as before-here is the photo documentation for your viewing pleasure.
How to DIY abstract floral painting
And here they are happily hanging over the tub!
So, if you decide to do this will you pretty please share a link with me? Or a photo? I'd love to see how other beginning artists get on. Happy painting, friends!

Oh, did you want to see all that on flipgram? Here you go.

7 Responses to “DIY Lulie Wallace Flower Paintings”

  1. You never cease to amaze me, wonder girl!

  2. I don't care what you say.. I couldn't do this and it look good. You did though! Great job Shelley! I have a plan to make art for our home.. I plan to take pictures of chloe's flowers (she has an obsession for picking flowers) and take a photo of it, play with it in ps, and then print it on canvas.

  3. Terrie from Atlanta, GASeptember 23, 2015 at 10:17 PM

    Just finding your blog while randomly at pictures of Lulie Wallace's paintings. You are adorable, and so is your work! I especially loved the Flipagram presentation - haven't seen that app before, but it made your whole process seem so doable and happy. Why in the world don't you have thousands of followers, girlfriend?!

    1. Hi Terrie! You totally made my day. We should all have a thousand flowers, right?!

  4. What beautiful artwork.....It looks fabulous....Lullie Wallace art makes me so happy:) Would you be willing to sell ne one of your creations????

    1. Hi Janet. Your are so nice to say that! I love Lullie's paintings so much, and did you see she has fabric on her website? We should all be making floral throw pillows!
      I don't feel comfortable selling one of these paintings since I have so clearly copied her work.
      If you check out her website she has some paintings for as low as $300 and signed prints that are around $100. And of course, I'd encourage you to try painting your's totally therapeutic :-)


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