Paint Your Own Gallery Wall Art: A Beginner's Guide

Set yourself up to succeed with these helpful design suggestions.

Rear view of female artist hanging paintings on wall in studio
Photo: Getty Images

No matter how many interior designers create revolutionary trends in home decor, one trend will always remain timeless: the gallery wall. Gallery walls are an easy way to combine different pieces of art to create a statement, whether it's paintings, photographs, vinyl album covers, posters, or even a mix of all. But art is expensive—especially if you want something custom-made for your space—so DIYers everywhere are embracing a new take on the trend: painting their own.

Oh, we know. Painting your own art sounds way too intimidating, particularly for people who don't consider themselves artistically inclined. But painting your own cohesive gallery wall actually isn't as hard as you might think. Sure, you probably won't be composing the Mona Lisa anytime soon, but that doesn't mean that you can't create something beautiful and special for your home. Read on to learn more tips and tricks for painting your own gallery wall art.

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Look for Inspiration


Find inspirational artwork that gets your creative juices flowing. Scroll through shops on Etsy or artists' Instagram sites to figure out what vibe you're going for. Depending on what you want the room to feel and look like, you might gravitate towards sharp lines and rigid geometric shapes, or you might prefer abstract blobs or scenes of nature.

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Start With the Basics


The Internet is a great resource for learning how to do anything, including creating art. "For those who are picking up a paintbrush for the first time, Pinterest has DIY brush stroke tutorials to help with technique," says Larkin Brown, user researcher, and in-house stylist at Pinterest. "Whether you are using acrylics or watercolor, these Pinterest tutorials can help determine the best medium for the look you're trying to go for."

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Be Cohesive


Anyone who's ever watched an episode of Project Runway probably heard Tim Gunn say, "Cohesion, cohesion, cohesion!" Though you're not sewing a collection of couture clothing, the same principle applies to your gallery wall.

Cohesion can come in many forms. For the most part, stick to the same color palette throughout the paintings so that they all match. There should be a commonality in the themes of each painting, whether that's abstract blobs, haphazard brush strokes, or anything else you choose. And finally, find cohesion in the paintings' presentation.

"Try to match the type of frame you use, or match the type of mat you use in wildly different frames. This brings any eclectic look together," says artist Kyra Kendall. "If you're handy, you can precisely measure out the size of mat you need for your frames and get mats cut professionally to put in the frames you already have. It saves you money but will make your wall look professional." (For painting novices, the mat is the border around the painting that separates it from the frame. This applies more to watercolor paintings that are on paper and need to be framed rather than acrylic paintings that typically go on stretched canvases, which don't have to be framed.)

The placement of each painting really has an effect on the wall and overall room. Brown notes Pinterest's "gallery wall placement" search page and the addition of other wall decor elements to play off the actual paintings. "We are seeing a specific rise in searches for creative art ideas like these more minimalist 'triangle wall paint' with 12 times more searches, and 'accent wall dots' with over 14 times more searches," she says.

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Consider Acrylic as a Starter Medium


If you're a total newbie to painting, sketch out your paintings before you get started. Acrylic is probably the best medium for you. The thick paint is very forgiving; if you mess up, you can always wait for it to dry, paint it over with white acrylic, and start all over again. Another bonus is that acrylic also does a good job of hiding your pencil sketches.

However, you can make pencil sketches work under your watercolor paintings as well. Kendall's personal style uses her pencil sketches to create definition and dimension throughout the colored paintings. She adds, "For a wall, watercolor is nice because generally they draw people in. Since they are usually smaller than other painting mediums, it makes the viewer come up close for a good look."

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Go Easy on Yourself


Keep in mind that this art is totally personalized, and it's all for you. While the tips above are great starting points, there really are no rules when it comes to being creative.

"Nothing is wrong," Kendall says. "If there are two things on your wall that can't seem to play nice together, think of it as a challenge to find the third piece that will bring the two adversaries together. I remember reading once that a secret to a happy life is to have a collection. Any collection. So look at your gallery wall as that. If you want to begin with a theme then go for it. Or just start displaying things you like, and I bet a theme will emerge. You might even discover things about your tastes and style in the journey."

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