Going Abstract: Canvas Photo Prints as Colour-Themed Art

Most people tend to think very literally when it comes to art and wall displays, whether on a gallery wall or a wall in our living rooms. We tend to think of photography as being crisp and clear and representing an image of the ‘real’ world and paintings or other art as more abstract and symbolic.


As a result, when we use canvas photo prints as wall art in our interior design plans, we stick with the literal: We look for photos that contain the colours, details, and lines that match up with our overall design for the room. But this is unnecessarily limiting. Your photo exists in electronic form (more likely than not) and there’s no reason you have to use it as-is. Using your photo as a starting point, it’s very easy for even the most Photoshop-clueless person to transform their very literal photographs into symbolic pieces of abstract art.

Start with Colour

The first step is to select photographs in your collection that have the right colour palette for the room, whatever it is. A baby boy’s new room might need some photos of horizons, or the ocean for the soft blue shades going from top to bottom. A neutral living room might need some shots of rainy cities you’ve seen on your travels, all grey and foggy. The trick is to try and not focus on your photos too closely – let your eyes un-focus and just see the colours in each photo, and select the ones that have the right palette, whatever their details.

Un-Focus for Canvas Photo Prints

Next, soften up your images. Make copies of the files and open them up in your image manipulation program of choice (a good free one is The GiMP). Find the ‘filters’ area and look for ‘blur’. Every image program in the world will have some variation on these tools.


Now, play around with settings. The goal is to turn your photos into abstracts by blurring away details and lines, leaving soft bands and clouds of colours. Don’t be afraid to play around with every setting – there’s always the ‘undo’ button if you get lost in the weeds, and you can always re-copy the file if you get completely lost.

Play with other tools, too – flip the image vertically or horizontally, apply textures, try everything! You can’t go wrong.

In the end, if you’ve done it with the right spirit, you’ll have canvas photo prints that are really abstract paintings. Only you will know their true origin or significance – to everyone else they will just be beautiful pieces of wall art that complement the room. There’s no need to be literal – everything, including photographs, are just raw materials for your design vision.

So, next time you’re renovating a room, pick out your best photos, run them through the abstraction machine in your head, and then click here and we’ll turn them into the abstract wall art of your dreams.