Minimalist Painting – Techniques, Artists, and Popular Works

Minimalist paintings are simply created works of art using canvas and different types of paint for personal expression and decoration.  These paintings are great wall art for any home or office to tie together a space.  We’re going to discuss minimalist paintings and how they are created.

Minimalist paintings are simple, colorful pieces of art created with repeating lines, forms, and patterns. Some famous minimalist paintings include Red Circle on Black, Ifafa II, and Knot (Pink) and are all uniquely different.

Are you looking for the perfect wall art to decorate your space and want something simple?  Interested in learning how to paint like a minimalist, but don’t know where to start?

What Is Minimalist Painting?

A minimalist painting is characterized by its simplicity, fewer elements, and emphasis on geometric shapes, clean lines, and solid colors. Minimalist painters sought to strip away any extraneous or unnecessary details and focus on the essence of form and color.

Minimalist paintings are created using simplicity, minimal colors and brushstrokes, and repeating forms and patterns.  It is defined by its focus on basic elements, nothing to interpret or figure out, and its relaxing nature.  Researchers at Shahid Rajaee University refer to minimalism in art as “a movement of cultural modernation against the thrill of modernist art”, like a rebellion against modern art.

White minimalist painting with texture - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
White minimalist painting with texture

Minimalist paintings are created using simplicity, minimal colors and brushstrokes, and repeating forms and patterns.

What are Some Famous Minimalist Paintings?

Minimalist art has been around since the 1950s, and there are many famous minimalist paintings.  Although all under the same category of minimalist, there are several differences that exist between paintings and their artists.  Here are some of the most famous minimalist paintings and their artists:

  • Ifafa II (Frank Stella, 1967)
  • Cardinations (Jo Baer, 1974)
  • Red Circle on Black (Jiro Yoshihara, 1965)
  • Pasadena Lifesavers Red Series #2 (Judy Chicago, 1970)
  • Yellow Piece (Ellsworth Kelly, 1966)
  • With my Back to the World (Agnes Martin, 1997)
  • Knot (Pink) (Brent Hallard, 2015)

This is only a fraction of some famous minimalist paintings, and as you can see they span several decades.  The style has remained similar over time, but the variations and themes have varied greatly as have the artists’ techniques and preferences.  Interested in learning minimalist painting techniques to create your own paintings?  Read on to learn more!

Back and white abstract minimalist painting - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Back and white abstract minimalist painting

What Are Minimalist Painting Techniques?

Despite its simplicity, there are several minimalist painting techniques to utilize.  There aren’t really any rules for minimalist painting, other than keeping things simple.  According to Lecturer Sukriye Inan at Nigde University Department of Fine Art, the following are some characteristics of minimalist painting:

  • Systemic, abundant repetitions
  • Excessive simplicity
  • Sharp geometric forms
  • Big and small used together
  • Avoid symbolism
  • Few materials used
  • Monochromatic to colorful

Another characteristic of minimalist paintings is the lack of visible brushstrokes.  There should not be visible texture, which adds to the simplicity.  The items being painted should not look realistic and can even be as simple as a single black line or complex as a portrait.

Abstract geometric painting - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Abstract geometric painting

Minimalist Painting Ideas

Minimalist painting isn’t limited by technique, only by imagination.  To get you thinking about what you’d like to paint in the minimalist style, let’s look at some minimalist painting ideas.

Minimalist Landscape Paintings

Minimalist landscape paintings are simple in form and not as detailed as other landscape paintings.  These are simplified forms of landscape and not as realistic, but their lack of detail keeps them minimalist and soothing to look at.  A minimalist landscape painting would look great on a fireplace mantle, over the living room couch, or at the head of the bed.

Minimalist Flower Paintings

Similar to minimalist landscape paintings, minimalist flower paintings are simple and less detailed.  These are minimal in colors and shapes, characterized by lines and contrasting colors.  Sometimes abstract, these paintings can have a single flower or multiple flowers in several colors.  Minimalist flower paintings look great in a bedroom, hallway, kitchen, or wherever you’ve got wall space.

Minimal abstract flower painting - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Minimal abstract flower painting

Minimalist Abstract Paintings

Minimalist abstract paintings are pretty radical compared to other abstracts.  These paintings contain shapes like squares and minimal colors.  Minimalist abstract paintings are known for their simplicity, purified beauty, and are true to form.  These often also have straight, black lines for contrast to brighter colors.  Minimalist abstract paintings go well anywhere and everywhere!

Minimalist Portrait Paintings

Minimalist portrait paintings are simplified versions of portraits.  They are known for simple colors, lack of detail, contrasting colors, and simple lines.  From realistic portraits to abstract line drawings of the human form, these paintings are simple and beautiful.  Minimalist portrait paintings look great in bedrooms, hallways, living spaces or even the office.

Black and White Minimalist Paintings

When it comes to simplicity, look no further than black and white minimalist paintings.  Whether it’s abstract or portrait, these paintings are only in black and white and shades of gray.  With simple lines and shapes, black and white minimalist paintings are an excellent way to decorate a space with simple beauty. 

Minimal pineapple sculpture and painting - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Minimal pineapple sculpture and painting

Minimalist Painting Mediums

Minimalist Canvas Paintings

Canvas is the most common medium for minimalist paintings.  These come in multiple sizes from small to extra large and are easily accessible.  Canvases can be found at any arts and crafts store, as well as some big stores and online.  Minimalist canvas paintings are easy to find, easy to paint, and easy to hang!

Minimalist Acrylic Paintings

Acrylic is the most common medium for creating minimalist paintings.  Acrylic paint is easy to use and mix, easy to find, and can provide the brightest color results.  Minimalist acrylic paintings are the most prevalent and most desired pieces of art.

Minimalist watercolor sky - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Minimalist watercolor sky

Minimalist Watercolor Paintings

Watercolor is another common painting medium for minimalist artists.  Another one that’s easy to find and use, watercolor can provide more muted tones of colors and is often used to fill in larger areas on canvas.  Minimalist watercolor paintings are softer in appearance yet still bold in color.

DIY Minimalist Paintings

It’s not difficult to create your own minimalist paintings.  Supplies including brushes and the above mediums are very accessible, it just takes patience and creativity.  With DIY minimalist paintings you can use your imagination and your home’s color scheme to come up with your own designs and artwork to fit perfectly in any room.

Styles of Minimalist Paintings

Japanese Minimalist Paintings

Japanese minimalist paintings generally have a characteristic look that incorporates the color red.  A red moon, a red flower, a red fish, or even a red box are commonly seen in Japanese minimalist paintings.  There is great focus on nature and natural elements, but in a simplified form.

Minimal pink and blue acrylic - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Minimal pink and blue acrylic

Modern Minimalist Paintings

Modern minimalist paintings are varied in appearance from a few muted color shapes to a simplified landscape.  There are bright colors, toned-down colors, neutral colors, lines and shapes.  Mostly abstract, these modern paintings offer something for everyone of different tastes.

Contemporary Minimalist Paintings

The contemporary style of minimalist paintings is very interesting and also a big abstract.  These also vary in shapes and colors, some with straight lines and contrasting colors and some with a single shape in black and white.  Also abstract much of the time, contemporary minimalist paintings are simple and intriguing.

Simple Minimalist Paintings

Simple minimalist paintings are easily distinguishable with several colors, simplified shapes for landscapes and nature, and uncomplicated views.  Like their name says, these paintings are simple and recognizable with mixed colors and shapes to easily coordinate with any room.

Get a complete overview of minimal painting including some of the top artists in the video below.

Related Insights:

What Is Minimalist Art?

Minimalist art is paintings, photography, drawings, and sculptures that are defined by simplicity and clean lines.  There are minimal forms and lines, repeated images, and few colors.

What Is the Focus of Minimalist Art?

Minimalist art focuses on the essentials-forms, concepts, clean lines, and simple features.  There’s no interpretation with minimalist art, it is its own reality.

What Makes a Painting Minimalist?

Simplicity in colors, lines, and forms make a painting minimalist.  There’s no emotion, nothing to figure out, it’s relaxing and contemplative.

Geometric acrylic on canvas - Minimalist Painting - Gone Minimal
Geometric acrylic on wood

Real Peoples Interest In Minimalist Paintings

I asked 5 friends and family members: 1) Would you consider having a minimalist painting in your home?  2) Would you select a painting primarily based on Artist, Style, or Color? Here’s what I discovered: 

Would You Own A Minimalist Painting?/
Based On What?
Tally of Family/Friends
1) Yes  2) Style41%
1) Yes  2) Color25%
1) Yes 2) Artist17%
1) No17%

Other Resources:

Minimalist painting is a wonderful choice whether you’re an amateur painter looking to get started or a collector of art.  With its simple lines and forms, bright or muted colors, these beautiful paintings are a great way to decorate any room at home or at the office.  Whether it’s abstract or contemporary, these paintings are relaxing to look at or even to paint!

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