Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Simple Canvas {tutorial}

Looking through aisles and lists of products suggested to get you started on a simple canvas with your 'little ones' can seem overwhelming... but it's really simple.

No, really... it is!

I remember spotting a canvas at Bed, Bath & Beyond that I really liked, but the price tag left me feeling a bit deflated.  I thought... why not try to create something on a canvas of my own??  Better yet, why not let our girls create something?  That would make it a cherished masterpiece.  I'm a sentimental girl.  It works.

This project quickly became a favorite.  The proof is all over our house.

This is how we do it...
{Any supplies used to create canvases like ours will be in bold print.}

We haven't encountered any disasters, but like us, you may want to be prepared... just. in. case.  Cover your table.  We use an old sheet, but newspaper, a cheap shower curtain, old table clothes, or even city trash bags would do!

Plastic might be best for young{er} artists that may accidentally spill {to give extra protection to the table underneath}.

You will need a blank canvas.  Any size will do.  I usually buy the 2-pk canvases found at Hobby Lobby when they are 30% off.  The girls paint 2 each... I mean, what's the use of taking the kitchen table hostage and only having one canvas to show for it, right? ;)

My girls enjoy picking out their own acrylic paints, so we opt for the 'small' sizes.  Be sure to get enough of the color you want for your base coat.  {Two coats work best.}  The biggest dilemma is which color to pick!

As many times as I have encouraged our girls to think of what they want to paint before picking colors, they usually don't know until they are sitting at the table, blank canvas sitting in front of them.

Be on the look-out for sales on acrylic paint! The metallic acrylics give a neat effect, too.

Sponge paint brushes.  These are great for little learners.  After use, they can either be rinsed and dried, or tossed.  {We toss}  They can also be trimmed with scissors to make a narrow tip, when needed.

Paper plates.  These are great for dipping your sponges in paint.  AND they can be tossed.  Less mess, the better.  Noticing a theme of efficiency here? ;)

Large foam stamps are not a necessity, but they are fun!  Painting a thick coat of paint directly on the stamp instead of 'dipping' them usually works best.

We use Mod Podge for adhering pictures, scrapbook paper, or any other embellishments to the canvas.  Be sure to put a good coat under and over the picture, working out any bubbles that may get trapped underneath.

See what fun you can create? :)  The girls also use paint pens for filling in small details.  {In this picture, I used my Cricut to cut letters, but you can find pre-cut letters in scrapbook areas in various stores that can be adhered using mod podge.}

Paint pens are also great for drawing pictures your lil' budding artist can 'color'.  Gracie loves horses.  Notice the light-brown metallic paint used on this horse.  A pencil can be used for drawing as well, but make sure you go over the canvas 'lightly'.

 {Once 'colored', sometimes Mama uses a small paintbrush to add detail, too... but only by request.}


Sometimes, they like to do it all by themselves. :)  This is Nator's masterpiece.

Once finished, you will want to protect your priceless art with about 3 coats of varnish.  You can choose between a matte or glossy coat.  {We used matte for these.}  A bristle-style paint brush may work best for applying varnish, to avoid finding bits of foam dried on your canvas.  In times past, we have also simply used a couple coats of mod podge.

Some things to keep in mind:
* Let each coat of paint/mod podge/varnish dry completely before starting another step.
*To keep your brushes from drying out before the next step, store them in saran wrap or small, inexpensive Ziploc bags.
*If using plastic to line your table, be sure that it doesn't stick to the mod podge or varnish before drying.
*When done, I store all of our paints in large Ziploc bags.  This keeps them fresh and everything else protected in case there's a leak.
*Let the artist 'be' the artist.  Sometimes, our girls pick colors that leave me scratching my head, but surprisingly, it always turns out well in the end.  {Well, except the 'neon' colors.  Mama 'did' say no to those.}
*Remind your artist that there are no mistakes in art.  {Besides, once dried, it can simply be painted over and tried again.}  Encourage.  Encourage.
*They're never too young to start.  Lil' hand and foot prints would be a great keepsake!  Sigh.


This school year, we are diving deeper into art.  Our color wheel alone should make us look professional, right? ;)  I have already bought different brushes and canvas paper to change things up a bit.

We'll be studying various artists, as well as... color value, texture, shape, line, and form.  My inner artist is excited.  We'll keep you posted with any future art projects.  Be afraid... be very afraid. ;)


I hope you found this helpful!!  :)


  1. Your girls are so creative and talented! Great job!

  2. Very creative! I love them! What a special memory!

  3. Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great project for my daughter. Love all the creative details your girls used.

  4. very helpful!!! love it! we will be adding this to our list of fun things to do this summer. i'm finding that while i love the "store bought" stuff you see at hobby lobby, a.c. moore and all...i love the girls stuff hanging around much more.

    i think i may get the girls to repaint their flowers! i have those hanging on the wall {waiting for frames} i think they would be beautiful done like this too.

    thanks for sharing!

  5. LOVE this idea...I too like those canvas art at Bed Bath and Beyond, but would never spend the money. My girly is certainly old enough to do this!!

  6. those are great!!!! I think even my teenagers would enjoy that!

  7. I love this idea! This would be great hanging in the living room we just redone. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Love these! I am bookmarking this. I think it will be a great project for my kids for 4-H

  9. I love this project! Have to "star" this one to come back to; I think both of my girls would love it!

  10. I love this! I may have to let the boys try this with some of the Disney pics we have! Fun stuff!

  11. What a wonderful project! I've been wondering about canvas painting for awhile, and this post is definitely full of answers to most of my questions! I love the idea of "original art" made by my little guys hanging on the wall (although at their ages, the art will probably be a bit abstract ;).

  12. Fabulous! What a great project to do with my girls on the next rainy day! Thanks for sharing!!! And your girls' artwork is beautiful! :)

  13. I love this tutorial! I'm an so artsy challenged, but Cloe loves everything artsy! Can't wait to let her try out her own masterpiece! Thanks!

  14. Those are darling! I have vowed to do more art with my kids this year. I love this idea. . .thanks for sharing. :)


  15. I'll have to spend some more time absorbing all this information. It is overwhelming to me. lol. Blessings, SusanD


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