50 Abstract Black and White Painting Ideas

Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Black and white is a classic combination but some people think it’s too basic but it’s my favorite.

Yet, it can produce stunning results and look even better than color. I paint mostly with only black and a few other colors, so I am absolutely obsessed with black-and-white contrast!

If you are looking for interesting black-and-white painting ideas that are really cool, check my list! 

I’ve also listed DIY black-and-white wall art you can hang in your room. You’ll also find handy tips and tricks along the way!

Black and White Painting Ideas
Two of my works in black-and-white

Black and White Painting Ideas for Beginners

While you can only use black and/or white colors of your chosen medium, you aren’t limited to what you can do. 

You can make a black and white abstract painting! Paint your favorite landscape or scene. Make a portrait of your loved one-may it be an animal or a person. 

I hope you discover these colors’ beauty along the way! Have fun!

Black and White Abstract Painting Ideas

First I would like to share some of my works asI mostly do abstract black-and-white studies on paper or canvas:

abstract painting in black and white
One of my works in black and white

Some of studies on watercolor paper:

abstract painting in black and white
abstract painting in black and white
abstract painting in black and white

You can check some more of my works (I am bad at uploading them online in good quality, sorry) on my About Me page. Now let’s explore more bw painting ideas from across the world:

  1. Gesso on Paper
abstract painting in black and white ideas
Kat Noonan

Are you interested in abstract work? Try this simple black-and-white abstract painting idea, then, you only need a gesso (white or tinted) and a black canvas (store bought or painted black).

  1. Isabelle Grumbach Abstract Painting

With the colors taken care of, you’ll only need to think of shapes you’d like to paint. 

  1. Ray Grimes Abstract Acrylic Painting

Depth and texture. This piece has both. And the dynamic drawing attention to the center.

  1. C

Why use only black and white, you ask? Well, you don’t have to think of what colors to use! 

Burridge added that there’s less chance of ending up with a muddy painting.

Paint along with Burridge and learn more about contrasts in his tutorial.

I also have an interesting experiment on craft papers with letter G:

abstract painting in black and white ideas
My vision of 2 letters G

And the letter S:

simple black and white painting ideas
It has light texture, white washes and opaque black accents.
  1. Textured Abstract Painting
simple black and white painting ideas

There are lots of ways you can add texture to your artwork:

  • Sanding
  • Use a medium with sand or grit
  • Combing and carving 
  • Use rocks, buttons, shells, etc., as a stamp
  • Use acrylic gel medium to make your paint thick and pourable
  • Make use of plastic wrap, cloth, or paper
  • Applying paint with a palette knife instead of a brush
  • Using q-tips
  • and many more!

Now, go and experiment!

  1. DIY Black and White Abstract Painting – Imperfect painting
Full tutorial

You’ll need a glossy magazine page, white canvas, and black paint for this particular piece. Fold your magazine and tear it! 

Now, use that magazine as a stencil to create an abstract painting!

  1. Snow Landscape
Imperfect Paintings

Paint a horizontal line, a circle, or any shape. Then, paint an abstract of what this shape reminds you of, just like what the artist did in this quick tutorial.

  1. Abstract Painting: Back in Black 1
David Kessler

Kessler loves simplifying everything to essentials. Watch how he does this here

  1. Lost in Lines

Do you still need help with how to start an abstract painting? Start with lines and create illusions, shapes, depth with them. A simple line has so much to offer!

  1. Black and White

You should try listening to classical music while working as Mara did here.

  1. Monochromatic Black and White Painting with Pouring
Angela Mutavi Art

Do you have limited supplies? No worries! For this piece, you’ll only need a mars black, a white base paint, and a white canvas.

  1. Abstract Seascape

Who said using abstract approach we can only do abstract things? What about painting a landscape?

simple black and white painting ideas
SurajFineArts – Abstract ART

Foggy morning scene but make it abstract: This composition could pull that off! Watch the full demo here.

I got more painting ideas to use black – 54 Awesome Black Canvas Painting Ideas You’ll Want to Replicate

Black and White Acrylic Painting Ideas

  1. Fur Baby
simple black and white painting ideas

Take several photos of your fur baby.

Then, choose the angle you’d like for your piece. 

Painting fur is a bit challenging and time consuming but if you watch closely you can see how the artist used light paint strokes to create fur instead of painting each hair.

  1. Dandelion
simple black and white painting ideas

A dandelion painting would depict the fluffy white head of a dandelion, set against a black background – it will make the flower pop and add volume.

The image may show the dandelion seeds blowing in the wind, giving the painting a sense of movement and softness.

The full tutorial is here.

  1. Easy Full Moon
simple black and white painting ideas
Marco Pineda

A white orb of a full moon set against a black night sky creates some sort of mystery and can be even a little bit scary.

You can paint moon’s surface with craters and mountains, and the white light of the moon illuminating the surrounding darkness.

I suggest you use a mini canvas. 


Working on a small canvas, you also invest a small amount of time, paint, and effort. So, there’s nothing to lose. And you focus more on learning the technique.

Want to learn how to paint moon? Check How to Draw a Crescent Moon 15 Great Tutorials for All Types of Artists

  1. Landscape
simple black and white painting ideas
PriyA Art Studio

A mountain landscape always feel majestic and peaceful to me.

White-capped mountains set against a deep black night sky or foreground.

Dark silouhettes of trees, valleys, lake or river in the foreground to create a sense of depth and dimension, with the white peaks of the mountains standing out in contrast. I think we got a pretty good setup 🙂

  1. Realistic Moon
Createful Art with Ashley Krieger

Ready to upgrade your skills? Try to paint in a more realistic way.

  1. Floral
simple black and white painting ideas

It can be a single flower, a bouquet or even a field full of flowers. You can also add some golden touches with markers or paint.

Flowers are an ideal muse for simple and close-up composition! And they look pretty, even in black and white.

  1. One Stroke Flower Painting

Fill up your canvas with interesting shapes and delicate curves with this one-stroke flower painting! You can load your wet brush with one or two colors and once you placed it on the canvas, move it to make a flower or a stem.

More about acrylic painting techniques like double loaded brush you can learn from this article: 25 Acrylic Painting Techniques For Beginners to Paint like a Pro

  1. Peregrine Falcon
simple black and white painting ideas
Andrew Gurr

Put your feather painting skills into practice by mimicking this powerful and fast-flying peregrine falcon. Start with darker colors and move toward lighter accents, it will make it easier. And don’t give up on the ugly stage of painting, be patient!

9. Starry night

Want to paint a simple starry night scene? Paint the background first using black and white paint, then the black ground. 

Splatter white paint to achieve a sky dotted with stars. Add the pine trees last with a fan or flat brush.

  1. Black and White Acrylic Pour Painting
Fiona Art

If you find learning new tricks and techniques fun, try acrylic pour painting at once!

  1. Grayscale Trees Silhouette Painting

Once you know the basics, you can do anything with practice! Use this tutorial as a guide in creating the piece below:

Art & Crafts by StudioSilverCreek
  1. Lion
Lerawulan Arts

I really love this painting, it is deep and serene. The colors on photo will almost look blue, but this is just a visual effect of working with different values of white and black.

  1. Dancing in the Rain

Pinting faces and human bodies are among most challenging things to paint. Gladly with no to little details black and white painting will still look great!! Look at this one, it is an amazing painting but you don’t have to struggle painting anatomically realistic body.

Joni Young Art
  1. Angel

When we think women in white we may think wedding, white clothing in different cultures, or angel (from the top of my head at least). And again, you don’t have to paint the body realistically.

Joni Young Art
  1. In-flight
Eric Pieti

Acrylic paint markers are great for making art that requires fine and detailed design, such as this modern abstract.

  1. Cat
Siobhan LERAY

No model? Snap a photo of a cat in your neighborhood and your own furry baby! If your cat is black and white like this one, you technically only painting white parts – isn’t in crazy?

  1. Sunflower

Sunflowers have distinctive shape of petals and central part so we don’t have to always paint it yellow.

I got more tutorials on painting flowers:

  1. Ballerina Dress
simple black and white painting ideas

In love with ballet illustrations? Why not try to paint ballerina dresses or a ballerina in the middle of a dance? Simple painting looks so much better with added texture.

  1. Bamboo
simple black and white painting ideas

Bamboo has long been admired due to its resilience. Having one at home brings good luck, according to Feng Shui. I’m not sure if painting of bamboo works the same way, but … maybe?

This time, the creator I think used some sort of sponge to actually paint bamboo. Super easy black and white painting idea then to try with kids.

  1. Snowy Mountains
simple black and white painting ideas

Absolutely stunning mountains! I usually have a reference to paint mountains, it is just easier for me that way.

Where you place the horizontal line in a landscape painting will determine which part of your piece will attract the eyes the most. 

A low horizon guides the focus to the sky, while a high horizon draws the eye to the ground.

As for this piece, the focal point is the snowy mountains.

Black and White Canvas Painting Ideas Charcoal

Charcoal requires sometime to get used to it, but I like how soft it is and how easy you can create smooth transitions. Drawing with white charcoal on black paper is super easy and fun.

  1. Simple Moon
simple black and white painting ideas
Creative Juices

Grab your carbon paper and charcoal for this quick sketch of the moon and a body of water underneath!

The fluid strokes of charcoal convey a calm and quiet sea or lake. Smooth the lines with your finger.  

  1. Apple
simple black and white painting ideas
Artist Ankit Jasmatiya

A still-life setup gives you freedom in choosing the arrangement and lighting. Plus, you can take a photo of your setup to preserve the lighting. Drawing a realistic object with charcoal you need to keep in mind shadows, proportions and highlights.

  1. Steaming Cup of Coffee
simple black and white painting ideas
Neelima Arts

As I said, it is quite easy to create softness with charcoal, perfect for drawing clouds, steam, smoke, blurr. Again, you can soften it even more with your finger or a piece of paper towel.

  1. Glass
simple black and white painting ideas
Habib’s Studio

Painting transparent objects is always a challenge but it is easier to get it done right and learn the process if you start with just black and white. These wine glasses look realistic! Check how the artist did it here.

  1. Bottled Water
simple black and white painting ideas
My Arty Time

Do you want to explore using charcoal further? After learning how to paint transparent objects, you can challenge yourself to paint fluids like water. This video will help you understand more about this medium. 

  1. Dark Forest
simple black and white painting ideas
Rajpurohit Painting

Paint along with this tutorial to create a mystical forest with trees that may or may not move anytime you look at them… 

Black and White Canvas Painting Ideas with Pastels

Pastles are very close to charcoal in terms of creating soft shapes and how you interact with them. Water soluble pastels can be reworked with water to act more like paint.

  1. Fairy
simple black and white painting ideas
Modern Art Gallery

Paint your version of a magical evening involving this ethereal being caught flying toward the moon.  

  1. Shadow Man
simple black and white painting ideas
Art klvDraw Studio

Awake from a bad dream? Or you just finished watching a horror film? Shake the fear off by painting! Or, quite the opposite, paint something that scared you to remember it (you know how sometimes we wake up and we don’t remember what exactly was in the dream).

  1. Black and White Full Moon Scenery
simple black and white painting ideas
Creative Arts by MOW

If you plan to spend outside painting to capture the full moon, you’ll need a bag for your supplies, a bottle of drinking water, insect repellent, a camera, a chair, and snacks! 

  1. Couple
simple black and white painting ideas
Manika Creatives

Great and easy black and white painting idea for St Valentives day or an anniversary! Doesn’t have to be super realistic, again, so it is suitable for beginners and other mediums as well.

Ifyou are single, it is a good way to manifest the man/woman of your dreams by painting this sweet dancing-under-the-moonlight scene 🙂

  1. Black and White Scenery

Paint another starry night scene. This time add the mountains you saw while on your ski trip. 

simple black and white painting ideas

As you can see in this example taping is a good idea to make clean endges working with charcoal or pastels.

Black and White Canvas Painting Ideas Pens/Pencil

  1. Sad Boy

Are you feeling a bit lonely? Let it out by painting this sad scene.

simple black and white painting ideas
Creative Art


simple black and white painting ideas
ART Tube

Grab a white pencil, cotton swab, and black paper. Sketch a candle and have fun! Black background is perfect to show small candle light.

  1. Cheetah

With a bit more patience and skills you can aim to draw very realistic animals, portraits and plants.

simple black and white painting ideas
Fine Art-Tips

If you are going for something realistic, you’ll need a good reference photo for this, if it is digital, the one in very high resolution so you can zoom in and out. 

  1. Beautiful Girl
simple black and white painting ideas
TheAli ArtStudio

You may think hair will be a challenge but you really don’t have to go in too many details.

  1. Jellyfish
simple black and white painting ideas

Start off with a sketch of a jellyfish. Trace it with your chosen pen. Add more details. Lastly, take care of the background using a marker.

  1. Girl
simple black and white painting ideas
Johanna Springer

A refreshing take on a girl surrounded by plants! It’s cute. Copic Multiliners are perfect for fine lines like this.

  1. Chess Queen
simple black and white painting ideas
Lynn D. Pratt

Yes, you can paint on black paper using watercolor! You can also opt for gouache to make it more opaque and bold.

A white gouache is handy in this piece since it can make transparent watercolor opaque while retaining its solubility. 

  1. Foggy Forest
simple black and white painting ideas
Kalliopi Lyviaki

The secret to create deep misty forest is to gradually layer trees from the very back. Each time you are done with trees, make a white mist to soften that tree line. And proceed to the next trees, closer to us. Finally, you will end up with very close trees that you will paint black.

Easy Black and White Painting Ideas for Room and on Wall

Overthinking what painting to hang on your wall leads to a bare wall! Don’t let that happen. 

Here are some easy black and white wall art for your room and wall:

simple black and white painting ideas
Dot Art: rarelyreal_art
simple black and white painting ideas
Jellyfish: Francesco_cassiani_artist
Leaves: Goodwin Joy Thachil
simple black and white painting ideas
Line Art: Voleline HOME PRINTS
simple black and white painting ideas
Mandala: Boho Vibes & Printable Wall Art
simple black and white painting ideas
Quote: Steffylou’s Art

Final Touch

I hope my little list of black and white painting ideas for acrylics, watercolor, pastels, charcoals and pens gave you some confidence in working with only two colors.

I am happy to share your paintings here as well if you created something in black and white and think it is a good idea!

Happy painting!