Super Fun Pretend-to-be-an-Artist Project

A friend of mine has gorgeous art on every wall of her home, painted by herself or family or friends.  One of the pieces caught my eye and she was kind enough to show me how to make it on my own.  I was SHOCKED at how easy it was!  I’ve gotten commissioned twice since then and it’s been a lot of fun to have a creative outlet and be able to make meaningful gifts for friends.  In the spirit of generosity with which I was taught, I wanted to share the process for anyone else who may want to try.

Here are a few ideas of what a finished product looks like:

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • A canvas (deep edges look best)
  • Paper for the background (pages from a Bible, book, or handwritten messages all work.  It’s nice when this ties into the message/meaning)
  • Spray adhesive
  • Modge Podge (I prefer matte finish)
  • Acrylic paint*
  • Adhesive letters (Vinyl poster letters or you can cut your own from contact paper)
  • 1-3 inch foam brushes (width depending on canvas size and detail level of streak colors)
  • For a 12×12 canvas, you will probably spend roughly $35 and 4 hours on the piece.
*A note on Acrylic paints- I’ve tried most of the brands that are available at Michael’s.  In general I’d say that Martha Stewart paint is the best quality, but colors can be limited.  Folk Art and Americana work just fine.  There is a lot of acrylic paint that is much more expensive, but that’s really overkill for this project.
Step 1: Prep

Rip your paper into strips.  The torn edges give a lot of texture, so be sure you have lots of smaller pieces with no straight edges.

Spray your canvas with spray adhesive.  This is best done outside or a very well ventilated area.  Be sure that the side edges of the canvas are also sprayed.  Keep the spray moving quickly to have a even covering with minimal bubbles.

Step 2: Base Layer

Arrange the paper strips on the canvas.  Keep in mind the paper that you place in the bottom left hand corner will be the words that show through your letters.  The papers will all overlap each other (there should be no canvas showing through).  Arrange some papers originating from the top and others the bottom.  Wrap the paper around the canvas so that it is all flat on the sides.  You can be as Type A or not about the paper lining up on the sides as you would like to be.  I’m not too worried about it as long as it stays flat.

Use a foam brush and cover the paper layer with a layer of modge podge.  Allow to dry completely.

Step 3: Lettering

Lay out your letters and apply them to the dry base layer starting with the last letter of the last word and working your way back and up.  Push the letters very firmly against the layer, consider rubbing them in firmly with a popsicle stick or finger nail.  You don’t want paint to get underneath them.

Step 4: Painting

Paint your base layer with smooth, even strokes that go from the top to the bottom of the canvas. The darker your base layer the more the words you have chosen will pop out.  If you actually want to have the paint be more translucent and see the pages behind the paint more clearly, simply wet your brush and dilute the paint with water.  Cover the entire painting with your base color.

Once that has dried completely, gently brush over some streaks of an accent color.  Try to let the foam brush graze the top of the texture from the pages.  Have a dry foam brush on hand for working in streaks.

Step 5: Finishing touches

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