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Easy Modern Triptych Wall Art

Last Updated on February 26, 2013 by Kristi Linauer

I’m slowly but surely making progress on my hallway. I know…it’s a hallway. It should have been done months ago! I’m just taking my sweet time, right?!

Last week, I tried my hand at making some wall art to go on the only sliver of wall in the hallway. Since it was going to be right there by the argyle wall in the utility closet, and the striped painted curtains hiding my washer/dryer closet, I wanted the artwork to be something a little softer, without a lot of hard lines or bold, graphic shapes. Here’s what I came up with (and please kindly overlook the yet-to-be-painted trim)…

It’s a triptych!  In case this word is new to you, a triptych is simply a series of three artistic pieces that are meant to be viewed together.  If you’ll notice, the pattern of the circles in my triptych move together from one painting to the next.  That’s because I painted them as one large painting, and then framed them separately.

If you’d like to make your own, here are the details…

Tools & Supplies:

  • 1/2-inch MDF, cut into three pieces of the same size;
  • 1″ x 2″ pine lumber for the frame;
  • small wood trim for the frame;
  • paint in assorted colors;
  • paint stir sticks;
  • paint brush;
  • plates;
  • jars and lids in assorted sizes,
  • miter saw,
  • wood glue,
  • brad nailer or hammer and finishing nails.


First use a miter saw to cut pieces of 1″ x 2″ lumber to frame the MDF pieces, then set those aside.

Now place the MDF pieces on your work surface so that they’re touching (like they’re all one piece), and give it a coat of white paint.  I didn’t even bother priming the MDF first.

Now use paint stir sticks and drizzle paint over the MDF, creating a very random effect.  If your triptych is large, you’ll need to do one section at a time so that the drizzled paint doesn’t start to dry as you’re working.

Now take your paint brush and load it with a very generous amount of white paint, and brush over the drizzled paint.  Continue to load the brush with white paint when needed to create the effect you want.  Don’t over brush, or the paint will blend too much and the variations of color won’t be as visible.

When all of the pieces are finished, separate them, wipe away any excess paint that accumulated on the edges, and allow them to dry just a bit.  When they’re mostly dry, push them back together for the next step.

Place small amounts of your paint colors onto plates.  Dip the opening of the jar (or lid) into the paint…

…and then place it onto the MDF to create the circles.

I found that this type of lid worked the best because it came with a built-in “handle”, and the opening allowed the air to move freely through when placing the lid onto the MDF.

With the circle pattern completed, let the whole thing dry completely.

While that’s drying, stain the frame pieces.  I used the same Rust-Oleum stain that I used on my utility closet countertop.  This Early American color is definitely my new favorite!

When everything is dry, use wood glue and nails to attach the frame pieces to the MDF.

This step is optional, but if you have gaps between the frame and the MDF, you can cover it with thin strips of wood.

Cut, stain, and glue those into place along the inside edge of the frame pieces.  (Yes, I’m aware that mine aren’t stained in this picture.  😀  I was just dry-fitting the pieces.)

Then just add your choice of hanger (I used large Ook sawtooth hangers) to hang your new artwork, and enjoy!



The placement of my smoke detector is definitely less than ideal.  I’m not quite sure what to do about it.  I’m definitely going to move the artwork down a bit, so that it doesn’t look like the smoke detector is sitting right on top of the artwork.  Maybe I’ll paint the cover yellow as well.  Or maybe I’ll just leave it alone.  Smoke detectors, light switches, vents and thermostats are just those aesthetic annoyances that we all have to deal with, and I think most people look right over them.  But if you have a brilliant solution for me, I’m all ears!

I’m linking this project here:

Eclectically Vintage

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Hi Kristi,

    What fun artwork! You did a great job and I like how you framed it out yourself. My suggestion for the smoke detector would be to attach it to the ceiling if you can. If it’s wired in, I would leave it alone and move the paintings down. I wouldn’t paint the detector as you could mess with the sensors needed for it to work.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Katie @ Wildwood Creek
    March 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Very cool and great tutorial!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Love this ~ you did a fabulous job!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachael S
    March 27, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I love this! You could do so many different variations with this what a great project!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage
    March 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

    How fun! I love a project you can go wild with! It fits perfectly on that wall and with the argyle.

    Can’t wait to see the finished hallway – sometimes it’s the seemingly simplest spaces that give us the most trouble!

    So glad you linked to our Cinch party!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Liz Chaisson Thompson
    March 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Brilliant! I really like the variations in color that are behind the circles as well as the general wave from upper left to lower right.

    As for the smoke detector, relocating it to the ceiling is a really good idea if possible. If you can’t move it, though, how about framing out some decorative metal mesh and mounting it over the alarm? You could even paint the mesh to match your triptych.

    Of course, that would make it a quad-something or other, wouldn’t it?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Kristi, What beautiful artwork! I’ve seen these before but never with a tutorial so detailed that I felt like I may be able to follow and do this myself. Your hallway is getting there! BTW, I just ignore the smoke detector. 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 10, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      My daughter painted hers to match the walls and it didn’t hurt it one bit.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Love triptychs! Fun project. It caught my eye in the It’s a Cinch party links.

    I never think to hang things low on my wall, but always love it when I see someone do it like you did.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Oh my gosh, gorgeous!! I’m going to try this for my hallway, thanks 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim @ Sand & Sisal
    March 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I love this Kristi! I’d even frame it at the squiggle stage! Love it all! (tweeted & pinned too!) 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Aramelle {One Wheeler's World}
    March 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    This is a stunning piece of art! I would never have imagined it was something that could be done relatively easily. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lisa Summerhays
    March 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Perfect! Thanks for the how to!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kayla @ Your Day Simplified
    March 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I think you should dismante the smoke detector. JUST KIDDING! I do think painting it the wall color would be a good solution. Love the artwork. Looks like soap bubbles coming out of the laundry room- very appropriate and cheerful. Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I am loving on the bubble look. Sooooo creative.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    I had no clue this is what this was called! I love the idea! Thanks for posting it!! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Love the artwork! fabulous idea…….. will you share the colours you used with us? They work so well together that I would like to use them myself!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips
    March 28, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Nice work. It looks fabulous. I love a tutorial with lots of photos. Thanks.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Such a great idea! I love how it all turned out! Thank you for sharing your tutorial! PS. Congrats to being featured on Blogher today!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lucy Designs
    March 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    love it! so fresh and simple

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kelly @ DTTDidc
    March 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Your triptych came out great! The colours are soft & pretty, and I love the circles. The way you’ve got them sort of flowing down from the upper left corner to the lower right corner makes them look just like bubbles 🙂 Creating your own art is a lot of fun, especially experimenting with different colours and techniques 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Very cute! Could you paint the same color circles onto your smoke detector? I also like the idea of the mesh cover painted in a coordinating color – make the smoke detector part of the artwork! Love your posts!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    March 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm


    What a great idea! I love the colors and the circles are the perfect finishing touch!

    Thanks for the inspiration and thanks for linking to our party!


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog
    March 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    These are so great. I love the colors…and the rings, I’ve been saving all of my jars lately, what a fun use. I’m pinning this.

    Thanks so much for linking up to our party!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Angela Arterberry
    October 29, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Thanks for sharing such a simple, beautiful idea. Everyone can be an artist with this idea!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    LOVE! Just found your blog and I just LOVE everything you’ve done!! 🙂


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    How cool! I’m looking into cheap ways to make canvas sets like this one, and this is the first helpful page I’ve found. Love it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 20, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Possible smoke detector solution.

    Find some various sized round raised objects, like jar lids? paint them and the smoke detector with the same background as the painting. stamp a circle onto them that’s close to the same size. Arrange them on the wall above the paintings so they look like bubbles that have floated off of the painting.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Traci Wade
    September 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This DIY artwork looks so professional! Thanks for the idea. I love finding DIY artwork ideas where you can customize the colors and size. This is one I’ll definitely have to try.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    December 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I love this bubble triptych. I think this will be the perfect artwork to go in my kids bathroom! I love all the ideas I get on your blog! My home is going to be so much cuter thanks to you! 😉 Thank you for the great idea and simple tutorial.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      December 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Also, FWIW (and I know this post is old) I didn’t even notice the smoke detector until you mentioned it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I’m not a fan of modern for me but I love what you do it just works. You have a great eye and are able to put together amazing ideas. Even though my house is full of Oak , lace curtains etc. I can still appreciate the stuff you do . You are so talented, God bless.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    C.B. McDuff
    May 9, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    awesome idea!!! that would have cost a fortune in a store!
    As for the SD thing – if its not hard wired in – I would relocate it to the ceiling for sure – BUT – if you can’t do that – just remove the cover and then paint it the color of the wall just to camouflage it a bit better – taking the cover off first will help keep the paint job decent, and not gunk up the inner workings of the life saving safety appliance!
    Great job as usual – hope the house leveling is going great, with no surprises!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 22, 2014 at 8:52 am

    What are the dimensions of each frame?! I LOVE these and am in the processes of gathering my things to start this project!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 21, 2014 at 12:28 am

    I love this!!! I was dreaming up something similar for three big canvases I have sitting around, but in blues, greens and aquas for a neglected strip of wall in my living room. And then I came across this on Pinterest! I love it! Great idea on the background. I hadn’t decided how I was going to do mine, so now I think I’m going to use your idea! Lovely! Thank you for sharing!