Handmade Wall Art

I’ve been meaning to talk about that painted canvas in our family room.

Here’s a timeline::

1. The inspiration :: Angela from The Painted House {a little more info here} the link in that post is to Angela’s old blog from 4 years ago I saw her beautiful mix of styles and the first thing I did was to go by a 40 x 30 inch blank canvas from Michael’s {use your coupon on their iPhone app} {also, I could have gone twice as big with the canvas and always would have found a place for it} {one more thing, I like parenthetical statements}

2. April, 2008 I buy a big canvas and paint it a la Angela using leftover paint from my walls and my boys help.  We take the canvas outside and the one rule?  EVERY inch must be covered with paint, even if it’s simply white paint–don’t forget the sides.  Then drip, splash, pour and spread out the paint however you want.

3. Sometime later we move, I use the same canvas and use leftover paint from my walls in lighter colors

4. Last spring I was ready for a change so I used the same canvas and repainted it with some leftover paint from my walls along with some 89 cent acrylic paint from the craft store

Same kind of thing on a smaller scale–this is a small canvas hot glued over the frame of a $4 yard sale mirror–the frame started out gold but I painted it white. And if I ever want the mirror back?  I just pop off the canvas and peel off the hot glue.

finished small framed canvas all Sanford and Son-ed up

This is what the wall currently looks like as I tweak it to fit in with my fresh white walls.  Note to self, remove glass from those frames–I hate glass, even non-reflective

Side view–see the dimension?

Side view from when it was painted a lighter blue, last year

last year when it was light blue

and a close up of now.

No more complaining you can’t find anything for your walls, right?

I’ve got another canvas I’m getting ready to work on soon so I started a pinboard for inspiration colors and feelings I like–a great idea if you are thinking about creating your own art work and don’t know where to begin

Have you painted a canvas like this before?  Does it need some freshening up?  What are your ideas?

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  1. I’ve been contemplating painting over the huge abstract (5×5′) that I bought on Craigslist a couple of years ago, but I”m skeeeered I’ll mess it up forevermore! I love the size but I’m ready to get rid of the orange and brown. I feel like it’s dictating my whole house.

  2. I love your wall!! You did a great job with the abstract painting. Although I have never tried, I just think mine would turn out looking like a 5 year old painted it. Also, the lighter abstract you had last year would look beautiful on an entire wall. Lovely!!!

  3. I love the seaglass tones sprinkled through the room … there’s nothing quite as restful. Except maybe a walk along the ocean shore, collecting those rare gems of the past …

  4. Very cute. I love how you’ve used the same canvas over and over. And I love the idea of using your house paint. Number 1 it’s free and number 2 it matches your homes colors. Love it!

  5. I like your bold art. And I love the way you re-painted your M to work with it (or at least I think you did). Wonder why we’re so intimidated by paint? It seems that we’re all scared that we’ll mess something up, but whenever we break through and actually try something, it turns out great (or at least fun!).

    I think I must like parenthetical statements, too; I just noticed that I used two in that short comment. Oy.

  6. I love painting my own canvases. They aren’t professional by any means, but they always have just the right colors! I, too, hate glass in picture frames and have removed several from my house. You could never see the actual picture in some of them because of the reflection on them. The colors are so much richer without.

  7. Love this! I’ve been trying to come up with an idea for our entry area that would help personalize it and give people an idea of what’s to come. A big canvas with all the house colors would be perfect there! Thanks Nester!

  8. We’ve had two huge blank canvas hanging on the wall in our living room for almost a year. My hubby was supposed to paint on them for me, but it just never happened…and I’m kind of artistically challenge so I’m scared to try! I guess I can always just paint over it if I don’t like what I create:) Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. i painted a large canvas from hob lob last year. it is a horse that i saw in my mind. she isnt finished and she has changed colors, but i love her anyway! I keep thinking i will take her down and tweek her soon. I think i want to mute her colors some. I just used craft paint also.

  10. You can also paint on masonite (hardboard). It’s cheaper than mounted canvases on a large scale. They’ll cut the sheet for you at Lowes/Home Depot. Get it cut into sizes that fit common frames, or splurge on an old antique frame. Scuff the surface of the hardboard/masonite with sandpaper, and wipe the dust away. Then prime it. As an artist, I usually use gesso, but sometimes I pull out a funky flat paint and primer color to start off with. I usually cover up the background color, but it peaks out here and there and gives a sense of unity to your abstract design. If you draw into the paint when it’s wet with the hard end of your paintbrush it lets the underlayers show through. I could talk about this a lot! ;-)


  11. Love this! I’ve tried it too on smaller canvases and it makes me realize that we all have talent and interesting personal expression which deserves to come out in so many ways. Thanks for the reminder, I’d love to do this again.

  12. That is exactly how I began painting! A year ago I decided to just try it out, made some horrendous messes and then began a painting odyssey that has changed how I view the world.

    Great job on your painting, I love the colours you chose, the textures and the brush strokes.


  13. Yes! I painted my own last year (http://journeychic.com/2011/03/22/make-your-own-monet/). I definitely want to make another one very soon. Yours turned out so well! I’m not yet sure if I’ll repaint over my first creation or start anew. Regardless, I will definitely use a small roller to paint the whole surface (edges too) either white or a color before I being with the design. That was a lesson learned from the first time!

  14. I really like your wall, I like mine filled with pictures, posters and art too. But what I really love is that first painted canvas you showed us. Love the colours. It speaks to me and reminds me of Renoir’s palette of colours. Crazy right, but that’s how I feel. :-)

  15. Thanks for posting about your DIY wall art. I always saw the paintings lurking in the background of your photos and wondered if you did them yourself. I have a few blanks from Michael’s that have been waiting for a spark of creativity to bring them to life.

  16. okay, i never ever considered removing glass from my picture frames. I never had the courage! thanks for the nudge!
    and i LOVE your canvas…it’s very inspiring that even i could do that!

  17. We have a huge wrapped canvas which migrates around the walls and shelves of our living room, and each season my arts-and-craftsy son and I repaint it. For example, in the summer he went to town with leftover paint from around the house, and in the fall we painted leaves and made “leaf prints.” It’s fun to have a big new piece of art every season, and sweet that our two-year-old made it :)

  18. I just loved hopping over o your art Pin-spiration board! I have been collecting mine for a while. It made me smile how both of our personalities and loves came out in the art that we love!
    {here is mine: http://pinterest.com/fieldstonehill/inspiration-art/ }

    I am really wanting to rock something like this in my living room: http://pinterest.com/pin/200621358370293015/

    yay, handmade art. {and yay parenthetical statments}

    – {darlene}
    @ fieldstone hill design. com

  19. LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea. I also love getting the kids involved. They feel so proud. Thanks for being a constant source of inspiration!

  20. LOVE IT. PINNED IT. As an artist doing DIY and Crafts to try to get back in the swing of things….you inspire me. I really need to get out one of my umpteen canvases and push past this slump. Always inspired by your spaces and your use of light and pops of color.

  21. I really like your art – and using the paint you had on had made it all blend.
    (Pardon the pun.)

    Oooh, I like the idea of making a Pinterest board just for art inspiration!
    (Like i need ANOTHER board…lol.)

  22. Huh. I have an empty wall going up the stairwell to the third floor. (Poor American).
    But, I also have 2 exchange students this year, in addition to my two girls (21 and 17).
    I think I might just buy 4 canvases and give them my full and half empty craft paints and some brushes and let them all have a go, and see which each person comes up with, and hang them as an ascending (or descending, which ever way you choose to think about it) gallery on the wall.
    It will be a nice memento of their time here, too.
    Thanks for posting this!
    HUGS and blessings to you!

  23. I love this. I just started a series on painting your own artwork- I think it’s one of the best ways to save a little budget and also to make your home more personal. It’s easy to do too, if you just dive in! I love that you’ve painted over it again and again, it adds so much texture each time!

  24. Love this!! My kiddos did their own version for my husband as a birthday gift! I got a huge canvas and let them have at it. It turned out great, and is perfect for his home office!

  25. i brought a canvas to the hotel with me this weekend, to get some painting done while the hubs in attending work seminars. blogs+cable tv+canvas and paints= awesomeness. knowing the kids are having more fun with their grandparents than with grumpy mom makes it even better.

    thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Nice.

  27. I tried a do-it-myself canvas artwork last spring – here: http://www.lifeiscrazybeautiful.com/2011/04/26/diy-artwork-%E2%80%93-canvas-and-coffee-filters/
    I’m thinking I might get out the paint and soften the background/tweak it a bit.

    I’ve been thinking about being brave and trying some more…I definitely want to try something for next winter! Love the color and texture in yours!!

  28. I’ve painted so many canvases it’s just ridiculous. Years ago had a grouping of 4 small ones – cause that’s all we could afford at the time – stamped w/either a hand or foot from my hubby and I. He really loved waking up from snoozing in front of the TV to me painting his foot. (We were newlyweds, I didn’t know any better.) I like painting a favorite saying or verse on them too. I have one canvas I painted Phil 4:8 on, but I used a bit too gloppy paint/heavy hand, so now if the paint on top isn’t pretty dark you can see the texture of the verse printed behind it. Which means the next time I paint it I’m going to texture the bad boy up really good so it all blends in.

    Oh – and I highly recommend buying ugly painted canvases at thrift shops and painting over them. I got a hideous former art project of a bright blue corset painted w/really, really thick textured paint, about 12x18in, for $2. Covered with a solid color paint it’s fun and textured and you can’t tell there was a corset under there. :)

  29. Oh Parenthetical Kindred Spirit…….. I write the same way. :) I think you may be dating yourself with the “Sanford and Son-ed” reference. Too funny. But I love your devil-may-care decorating sense. I’m exactly the same way. Dontcha just love reincarnating your stash? There’s so much reward in shopping your own home. It’s the gift that keeps giving!

  30. Here is a great idea by our son and his wife – Doggie Art! I love it – it is beautiful and personal, perfect for their house. http://travelighter.blogspot.com/2011/12/doggie-art.html

  31. I’ve painted a couple of canvases using leftover wall paint like this one here, but none of them is an abstract. I think it takes a degree of bravery to be confident in your ability to make something that isn’t supposed to look like something specific. Looks great! I love the way you mounted your canvas right on top of the mirror! Thanks for sharing.

  32. Very cool, Nester. Your canvas looks great, like a breath of fresh air. Love the tangerine accents in your room!

  33. I’m gonna attempt something like this on a small little canvas I have. Although, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up hating it:( I never like anything I paint. But I’m gonna attempt the abstract.

  34. I feel like you need to tell us when you added the red into the room…LOVING IT.

  35. Aaaand THIS is exactly why I’ll never be a collector of fine art. Your DIY job looks as beautiful as anything you can buy! LOVE it. I just attempted something similar myself (except I added some chipboard letters.) Here’s how mine turned out: http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2011/08/art-project-inspired-by-craft-store-trickery/

    Isn’t painting so therapeutic?!

  36. This is so true! My husband and I have always thought that art made by friends or ourselves is the best kind. It’s so awesome to know where it comes from and making it yourself is just so much fun!

  37. Great idea! I have a few canvases sitting in the basement because I was tired of seeing them on my walls …and everyone’s. I no longer buy mass-produced art because it shows up everywhere eventually. Painting over it is probably the solution. P.S. your new paint and gallery wall look fantastic!

  38. Very cool! I have the canvas and paint at home. all I needed was a technique. Thanks!

  39. I LOVE doing my own art. I have done all sorts of things. I use paint mixed with modelling paste for REAL dimension.
    you can see them:

    I love what you have done though personally I like more white in my painting and just a hint of colour.

  40. Thank you, Nester, for the mention! I just put that pink and orange painting by my then 2yo & 4yo up in our loft and LOVE it there. I love that I can see my son’s scrawled list of temperatures.

    I think it is wonderful for people who haven’t had exposure to painting to dive into it for fun–especially when making a more gestural abstract piece. Maybe this would be helpful for those wanting to paint but are a little scared, some guidelines I wrote up mainly for painting with children but would apply to novices as well:


    Another tip: a tried and true tip from art history, copy the masters. Find a composition you like (compositions from artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Stuart Davis, Lari Pittman, Pierre Bonnard are an excellent start) and loosely sketch the composition–you are looking for the basic shapes to fill in. Choose a palette–again, copy a master, you can’t lose. Fill in the shapes with color, blending or hard lined, however gestural you want to be. Then, if you are using a pattern-crazy artist as inspiration like Matisse, fill in a pattern in the shapes where he did.

    But if a person is scared or needing a little push to get started on the painting, the perfect solution is to grab a kid–yours, your sibling’s, or your neighbor’s–to help you along. Children are magical beings who have no fear when it comes to art and will jump right in for you.

    I hope this helps! Thank you, Nester, for encouraging the throngs to be creative!!!

  41. So yesterday, my 3 year old son broke the glass to my brand new bird print from z gallerie at north lake (where everything is half off bc they are closing down that store, btw) and I was soooo bummed. I kept going back and forth even up until I read this about getting a replacement sheet of glass. Well, if the nester hates glass, then you just solved my dilemma!

  42. DS (5yo) is painting things like that on paper. Maybe I should give him a canvas, lol.

  43. I LOVE your canvas! I saw a painted canvas in a magazine last year, bought a blank one, chose some colors that I wanted on the canvas for my dining room (white, brown, aqua, a smidge of yellow), and let my 5 year old create! It’s hanging on our dining room wall ~ I just need to find the time to frame it. :)

  44. I really love the gallery wall a ton! It’s great that you used more than just plain pictures of things taken from your camera but that you used things with more meaning behind it!


  45. Love the gallery idea. I’m redoing our study and wondered what the wall color was. Love your blog!

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