May 31, 2011

{tutorial} Our own Abstract Art Mural inspired by Wasily Kandinsky "Circles"

I was lucky enough to come into all of the 2nd grade classes at my daughter's school and make a collaborative mural with the kids, inspired from Wassily Kandinsky's "Circles" mural. I found the idea on the informative Art Projects for Kids website (but as always, I changed it up a bit).
This is such a fun project for a family mural also. A small abstract circle mural adds so much to a living room (MINI MURAL TUTORIAL HERE)!

{Do you want to know how? Look at my somewhat TUTORIAL BELOW}


Part 1: Painting the Circles!

The amount of circles/squares you choose to paint is up to you. Just as long as it's an even number (6 or more). You can also choose your size, but remember you will have to make or buy a canvas to fit them - so figure out the dimensions beforehand.

Items Needed: (You probably already know this, but just in case)

1-Thick card stock paper cut into squares-I used velum in this one, but have since found card stock is better (found in most craft or paper supply stores)
2-Pencil & Eraser
3- Variety of acrylic paint (poster & tempera paint are okay, but they flake… as I found out) or nice crayons
4-Variety of paint brushes

Easy Directions: Get started by lightly designing and drawing circles/rings/doughnuts with a pencil. Paint: It is easier(for kids and adults) to paint by skipping circles and letting them dry so they don't mix colors (refer to above photo).

When the circles are done drying, place in books or something heavy to flatten for a day or so.

Part 2: Choosing or making your canvas!

As mentioned in part 1, you will need to coordinate the number of squares & dimensions with a canvas size. You can buy a pre-stretched canvas or canvas board at your local craft or art supply store or make your own.

I chose to make my own due to the large number of squares and I prefer wood to material - more sturdy (less cracks).

Items Needed to make your own WOOD CANVAS:

(back of masonite board)
1-Masonite plywood 1/4 inch thick (buy @ hardware/lumber store)
2- 1 x 2 inch wood poles
3- Small nails (1/2 inch-for the front) & Screws (1 inch-for the back)
4- Gesso paint (local craft or art store) & Large Brush
5- Wood putty or spackle
Step 1:
Once you know what size you need to make, and if you don't have your own tools, you can have your masonite board cut at the hardware store, along with the 1 x 2 inch poles that frame the back of the board (shown in the above photo). The triangles in the corners are for support and can be cut using the scraps from the masonite board. Not shown in the photo is a support 1 x 2" right in the middle with triangles to keep the masonite board from bowing inward. Use your screws on the back side and small nails on the front. Pound the nails in under the surface so they don't stick up. Fill up holes with wood putty or spackle, dry and sand.
Step 2:

On the front, apply a thin coat of gesso paint, all strokes in one direction. Let dry. Then apply another coat in the other direction. (Usually when you are prepping a gesso board to paint on you would sand it to make smooth and apply more coats, but it's not necessary because we are going to cover it up.)

On the back, swipe a wide X with gesso from corner to corner to pull in tight both sides to dry. Dry 24 hours.


Part 3: Adhering the Squares!

Items needed to Adhere circles to board:

1- Mod Podge (Gloss or Satin)
2- Large brush
3- Plastic wrap
4- Flat & heavy books!
Layout your squares and plan where they will go ahead of time. Start in a corner and apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the canvas surface and place a velum square, edge to edge on top of the Mod Podged area. Place enough plastic wrap to cover the square and flatten out the bubbles (the plastic wrap protects the artwork and the books I discovered!)
Follow the rest of the steps below:
Load the books on top of the plastic wrap and squares and give time for each square to dry (15-30 min). Some squares will bubble, just try your best! Start adhering side by side, corner to corner...

Make sure they are square and line up...

"Patience" I told myself after a few hours...

Almost out of patience by now, but almost complete!

Time to add at least 2 layers of Mod Podge on top of the squares. Allow each layer to dry.

Happy on the eyes and happy kids!

A closer look (wish I had better lighting!) I think we are going to make a smaller one for our home...


*If you make "Circles", I'd love to see it!

I do NOT SPAM! You won't be sorry when you get the SUPER SECRETE SALES & SNEAK PEEKS!

Thank you for stopping by 


  1. This is fantastic -- I love it!! I am in charge of making each class project for our school's silent auction every fall. Looks like I'll be making a couple of Kandinsky murals too!! ; )

    pink and green mama,

  2. Thank you MaryLea for checking it out. It looks even better in person, so you'll love making it with the kids. Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. Wow! That is seriously so awesome! I love it. You rule!

  4. This is so fun - what a great idea! And gorgeous!

  5. thanks! this was such a fun project with the kids and hubby :) We're going to make more for the school and grades this year!

  6. Thank you Celine! They hung it in the school entrance and the kids are sooo proud :)

  7. We are doing this, sort of, in watercolor, with my upper elem students today. I will send you a link if it works out. I mean when it's done!! Thanks for the idea!

    1. Yes, send me a link! I would love to see it. We did a smaller version in watercolor also and it was beautiful!

  8. I love this look and want to do something similar for our school auction project. I'm not an artist but do like crafting - I have never used vellum paper - why did you use this instead of watercolor paper for example? Also, will this adhear via Mod-Podge to a stretched canvas? I'm afraid I'm not handy enough to do the wood work. Thanks for such a great idea!

    1. Hi Tammy,
      At the beginning of this post I have a link to my "mini mural tutorial"- one is a watercolor on a small canvas, the other on hard board. I have found since this I have made this large mural with the kids, that thick card stock paper works best with acrylic paint, and a thick watercolor paper works ultimately with watercolor paints- so I haven't used velum since. But I would add that the stretched canvas will crack sooner with Mod Podge, than a hard, non-flexible surface :) You can buy a stretched canvas on hard board at the art store also.
      I'm happy to help you with anything else... trial and error...
      thanks for stopping by :)

    2. Hi Candice
      Thanks for providing this inspiration. I completed 5 24"x24" murals and 1 20"x24" mural for our 3rd grade silent auction project. They turned out fabulous! To make it easy on me and the kids, I pre-cut whimsical circle shapes from watercolor paper which the kids painted. I then painted the canvas a solid color with acrylic paint. I attached the circles with Mod Podge and then covered with 2 layers of Mod Podge to protect. I do not have a link but could send you a Word document showing the completed projects ...... I can't wait to see how much money they raise at our auction tomorrow night! Thanks again - Tammy Jaben

    3. Yay Tammy!
      Thanks for the update. That is wonderful to hear. So ambitious. Yes, please send me photos via email at I would love to see them!

  9. This was such a fun family project to do with my sons. It turned out GREAT! We mounted the paintings on hardboard which my husband cut and added a support frame in the back. It is hanging in our boys' art room and looks so colorful and playful. Thanks for the wonderful idea!!!

  10. Thanks for posting the tutorial. We are going to be painting these today onto canvas to make a banner for our Girl Scout troop. Each girl will get a square then I'll compile them together with sewing machine.

    1. You're welcome! What a great idea- on canvas! This can be created and displayed in so many ways, it's so versatile. Would love to see it finished.