Nailpolish Abstract Art

By Kate Riley July 17, 2013

While working on the revamp of the guest room (oldest daughter’s room when home from college) I wanted to add some unique (and cheap!) abstract art. It’s easy to take out a paintbrush and just go for it (find great tutorials here) but instead I decided to get busy with some dollar store nailpolish and created these two abstracts on canvas.

nailpolish abstract art on canvas


Yes, that is nailpolish! I love the shimmery enamel finish and the raised texture you get when it dries. It’s very Jackson Pollock-ish with the random swirls, drips, and splatters.

To recreate, here’s what you need: a blank canvas from a craft or art store; nailpolish from the dollar store, local pharmacy, or your stash; background latex or craft paint and a foam brush (optional); newspaper or tarp. nailpolish art supplies

This is optional, but I gave the surface of each canvas a coat of white paint with a foam brush to fill in the canvas texture and allowed it to dry.

coat of white paint


Start your pour on the neighboring newspaper so you get a feel for the consistency of the nailpolish and a nice drip on the edge of the canvas, then just randomly start pouring it in thin or thick lines to your liking, criss crossing and dripping across the canvas.

nailpolish swirls on canvas

Tip: only do 2 colors at a time and allow to dry for 30 minutes in between layers! This is one of those projects you have to come back to a bunch of times throughout the day but if you don’t want your swirls mixing together and want them crisp and layered, walk away after two applications, then come back and repeat.

Nailpolish has a hard enamel like finish and the metallics reflect in the light. I stopped after I used up the single bottles of nailpolish but you could use more and make it extra colorful and layered. The end result from all your patience?  Some very cool artwork, for cheap!

nailpolish on canvas

A few of you asked about the gold striped vase – that was a simple combination of a freebie glass vase wrapped with ScotchBlue painter’s tape and sprayed with a coat of Krylon’s ‘Gold Leaf’ spray paint.

gold striped vase diy

diy art projects

The two combined (plus the framed marbled paper) make an inexpensive vignette above the blue dresser.  Sweet!



  1. You’re so cleaver! They look like a really expensive piece of art work. The vase, well I just wish I was as creative. :)

  2. Love it, never thought of using nail polish. Now I have a project to use up all of my old bottles of nail polish. Thanks, pinned.

  3. Very cool! this is something that older kids could create as a rainy day project! Thanks for sharing!

  4. i am so glad you published this tutorial. during the guest room reveal i did pause for a while to admire the art, had no clue it was nailpolish !! i am sooo trying this.

  5. These look great and are perfect for the space! I remember I did a project like this for my daughter’s room when she was small and I was super happy with the results. Easy and cheap, and although from start to finish it takes a while, most of the time is spent waiting so it’s no big deal at all.

  6. We have a ton of old nail polish ….4 daughters, now I know how to downsize it !!! Thanks…

  7. Kate, I can’t wait to try the nail polish art with my granddaughter! I will do the gold vase too using silver paint. Thank you for inspiring us and sharing your talents.

  8. VERY sweet, I’d say! So Jackson Pollock-y. Or would that be Pollockish? Whatever, the paintings look cool. And I love the gold striped vase–another awesome idea!

  9. Awesome ideas. I will be renovating chested drawers and I have few vases that need some love, but that canvas- girl that great idea. It looks so good

    Have a great weekend

  10. Such a creative idea! I featured you today on my Kick-Off Friday post!

    Have a great weekend!

    Erica @ Craftivity Designs

  11. Kate, I don’t know how you always come up with the most clever ideas! These look great.

  12. These are really great. What a great way to use up all those polishes I bought but didn’t like and will never wear! Just one question…should I use a topcoat so it doesn’t chip? Haha. Thanks for the idea!

  13. I love this! What a great idea!!!

    I just saw gold/white tissue paper at the art store when I was there last week! Its gorgeous! Where did you get the white frame for it?

  14. I love how you mixed the colors on your canvas. I love the precision in the painting. Gold is a nice color to blend with other colors too. The nail polish art is lovely. Keep it up.

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