Browsing through home furnishing shops, I’ve noticed a trend in artwork that relies heavily on texture while minimizing color. I was inspired to try “painting” with plaster which has a natural, sculptural quality. This project is pretty simple—and since it is abstract art, there’s really no right or wrong way so don’t be intimidated. So go ahead, give it a try!



These supplies are easy to find at local stores or online.

Blank stretched canvas (mine is 12×12)

Joint compound (hardware store)

Various spreader tools:

  • Silicone spatulas and spreaders (kitchen spatulas work well)
  • Palette knife (art supply store)

Square notched spreader (hardware stores or online)

  • Household alternatives: plastic wide-toothed comb; sturdy plastic fork

Fixative Spray (art supply store or online here)


  1. Use a spatula or knife to scoop out the joint compound and spread onto your canvas. I find this step so satisfying, like spreading a heavy layer of creamy butter on toasted bread! Experiment with different types of spreading tools to figure out how textured or smooth you want your base layer to be. It’s a bit like frosting in the way it moves around, so just play with it to see what you like. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do this.

  1. Once you’re happy with your base layer, it’s time to create the arches, using your plastic notched tool. Apply firm, even pressure. You can clean up any excess plaster with your palette knife, gently patting it down or carefully scraping away. The nice thing about the plaster medium is how forgiving it is. If you aren’t happy with how your arch looks, simply re-spread your base layer and try again. (Note: The plaster does dry quickly, similar to the way frosting sets.)

  1. When you’re satisfied with your arches, simply allow the plaster to dry. At this point, you can leave it as is, or apply paint to any part of your canvas. Finish with a light coat of fixative spray.

  1. Find the perfect spot to display your finished minimalist art!