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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hand Painted Canvas Tutorial

I was asked to put my crafty skills to work and make a canvas print for a friend's wedding this coming weekend. They aren't putting together a seating chart for their guests and wanted a sign to indicate such. After a little Pinteresting, we found a cutesy poem to put on the canvas.

"Come as you are, 
stay as long as you can, 
we're all family, 
so no seating plan."

Awesome! the heck do I get it on the canvas? In the past, I've used a projector to trace and paint large things like Ginny's tree mural, but for lettering that would have been a nightmare. Then I remembered something I used to do when I was younger to "draw" pictures. If you trace the back of an image, then put it face down on a surface and rub the top with a pencil, a light outline transfers. You're essentially making your own carbon paper. 


Acrylic paints
Nice brushes of various sizes (I got mine at Michael's)
Tape and a sunny window for tracing
Book to support your canvas from underneath

First, I created a version of the canvas in Photoshop. When creating your design, be cognizant of the fonts you're using and whether they will be difficult to hand paint. The canvas I am working with is 20" x 24" so I had a little leeway with thinner fonts. Next, I printed it out full size and taped it back together (it printed on multiple sheets). 

I then cut out the individual phrase lines to make them easier to work with. Taping them to a window, I traced the lettering through the back of the page with a pencil, being careful to not smear the lead as I went. You need that lead to transfer!

Once all of the phrases were traced, I placed the first one at the top, right side up, and scribbled across the lettering with a pencil. I put a book under the canvas just thick enough to support the surface as I rubbed on it. Don't mind my sweet Phineas and Ferb pencil. 

After transferring the first two lines, this is what it looked like. I recommend only transferring and painting a little bit at a time. As you can see on the right, I painted across the two lines, not one line followed by the other. The more your hand rubs against the pencil on the canvas, the more blurred and messy it will get. 

I also recommend washing your hands after transferring, before you start painting so this...... doesn't get on your beautiful canvas as you're painting. Ask me how I know this. 

After the first two lines, I put on the larger chunk of text and the banner. It was a LOT of pencil to avoid smearing and in hindsight, I wish I broke it up a little more. 

While its not 100% done, I LOVE how its turned out so far. I still need to add the "W" initial and wedding date to the bottom area. I love painting; its so relaxing. I worked on it after the kids went to bed to avoid any unnecessary "helpers," so it was a nice project to focus on. 

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