Make Your Own Pixel Art

We get so many compliments on this piece of art that hangs over our little electric fireplace that I thought I should spill my dirty little secret: I (not an artist by ANY stretch) made it!  Now, before I proceed with this post, I want to point out that I have the greatest respect for artists.  I have friends who are very talented artists and Corey and I regularly purchase art and it is displayed all over our home.  This DIY sort of fell into my lap and I wanted to share it for those of you who are budget conscious but have a large wall to fill.

Before we moved into the condo, I was in the midst of a crazy Craigslist frenzy.  One day, I came across at 40"X40" canvas being sold for $5 since there were rough pencil sketches on it.  I couldn't resist such a bargain so I picked it up and stopped at an art supply store on the way home.  I purchased acrylic paint in red (we had already purchased the red flokati for our living room) and several other colours that made me happy.  Little did I know at the time that this painting would become the focal point and colour inspiration behind our living room.

Once I had it home in my teeny tiny apartment, (which was already packed with other Craigslist finds and DIYs for the new condo) I realized how intimidating a blank canvas could be.  Since I'm not an artist, but I am comfortable with math and geometry, I thought a pixelated geometric design would reflect this. 

Since I didn't take pictures at the time, I have recreated this DIY using photoshop to demonstrate the steps.  I used different colours in this tutorial just because I thought it would be fun to experiment.

I began by using a ruler to draw a 40X40 grid with a light pencil.  This meant that each "pixel" would be one square inch and I thought this was the perfect size to see from a distance.  I wasn't strict about distancing my lines perfectly since I wanted a more natural feel.

When I was finished, I used the old pencil and string compass trick to draw two circles: one larger and one smaller but with the same centre point.  The difference in sizes determined the thickness of the outline of my circle.  I wanted to start them off centre to add to the abstract feel.  The first circle is shown below.  Note: I probably would have had a better result painting, if I had primed my canvas in a neutral colour first but I was worried that it would be difficult to see my pencil lines.

I then began to paint the squares within the circle.  I followed a basic rule: if over 50% of the square fell within the circle, I would paint it.  Since anyone can print pixel art, I wanted my painting to stand out due to the texture of the paint and minor imperfections.  For this reason I painted each square individually and I didn't worry about staying within the lines perfectly.  In this case, ruler-straight lines would have appeared computer generated. 

I deliberately left some squares blank and painted a few that didn't fall within the circle.  In this tutorial example, I decided to be even more carefree with colour and style.  When I painted my red painting at home, I believe I planned it a little better and perhaps adhered to a bit of a "paint by numbers" strategy by noting a "y" in pencil on squares I thought would be yellow, etc.  This was mostly to help me to paint it over a few days without losing my direction.

In my red painting, I actually enjoyed the process of mixing paints and keeping similar colour families together to allow for a background transition.  In my photoshop version, I'm allowing myself a little more freedom.

Here's the final photoshop demo version:

And here's my slightly more subtle real-life version:

I really love the deep pink on red.  The low contrast really makes it appear different depending on the angle and in some lights, it nearly disappears. 

Here's a side view:

And here's the room which was inspired by this painting:

What do you think?  It's high-impact and requires zero talent!  Why not try your own? 
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