Art canvases seem to be popping up everywhere these days and for good reason: they’re fun and simple to make, can come in any size and any theme, use inexpensive and “stashed” supplies, and make wonderful home-decor or gifts!
I’ve made quite a few of them over the past few years, always with odds and ends from my old paper scrapbook stash, but for this “First Day of Spring” project, I’m going hybrid (of course!)!
I started with a digi-scrapped background, printed out and adhered to the canvas, then continued layering paper bits and paint to give it some “real” texture.
You will need:
- an artist’s canvas, any size
- acrylic craft paints in your chosen color scheme (at least 1 or 2 colors, but as many as you’d like)
- sponge brushes and/or regular small paint brushes
- gel medium (matte or glossy, your preference); I use Acrylic Medium Golden Regular Gel Matte 8 oz. Mod Podge decoupage glue should also work, but I like the gel medium for its many uses!
- damp paper towel
and, if desired:
- charcoal pencil
- random items for texture stamping (small bubble wrap works great!) or stenciling
- stash items: I always like to use buttons, strips of ribbon, etc.
Begin at your computer! Create a new canvas in your digi-scrap software to match the size of the REAL canvas that you want to make. I used 12×12 and created this background template of random squares and rectangles to fill the whole canvas. I knew I wanted my wording in the top right, so I put the largest background square there.
(You can download this template from Mediafire HERE; resize, crop, or rotate to your liking!)
When you make an art canvas “in real life,” it’s intentionally random and trial-and-error and the same goes in digi, so don’t worry too much about placement if you’re making your own template. Just fill that whole background with shapes of different sizes.
Next, select your papers and start clipping them to your template. I am using Jenn Barrette’s wonderful Hop, Skip, Jump kit for a vintage spring canvas. Keep in mind that this background will be layered-over quite a bit… so again, don’t worry too much about placement!
One rule of thumb that I do try to keep is the “visual triangle”: I like for my more eye popping colors/patterns to appear in a triangle formation. For example, the red polka-dot paper is an eye-catcher; I arranged it in my background so that it will form a triangle once I add the red dotted butterfly later on.
DO add shadows to everything you put on this background, but keep them quite small; remember you are going for a “glued down” and “painted over” look… nothing too 3D at this point.
I wanted to create an overlay paper to begin to mute the background a bit. Small neutral-print papers work well for this; I used the newsprint paper from Hop, Skip, Jump and arranged it crookedly on top of the background. To give it a “vellum” look, I decreased its opacity to 65%, then duplicated the layer and changed the top layer to the “multiply” blending mode and decreased IT’S opacity to 50%. Play with blending modes and opacity until you get a look you like!
Now you can begin to add a few digi elements and–especially–paint splatters! We’ll add real paints later on, but you can deepen the look of the paint layers by beginning with digi. Focus your paint around the outside edges of the canvas and in areas where you want extra definition–I added them around the area where I knew my title would be, to help the title stand out. Remember to flip, spin and resize your splatters so they look random. Stick with one color or use several, layered as much as you like.
I added digital wording, but wanted it to look handstamped and layered, so I used a large, stamped-style font combined with a digitally “die-cut” word using one of the kit papers. To make your own digi cut-out word in PSE, open your chosen paper, and use the horizontal type mask tool to type your word onto the paper in your chosen font. You’ll see this pink mask while you’re typing, and when you’re done you can grab the word with the move tool and drag it over onto your canvas! (Fonts I used: Stamp Act and Lavanderia)
Here is the type mask tool in action:
When you like the background of your canvas, print it out (I also printed a separate sheet with elements from the kit) and use gel medium to adhere the background to your artist’s canvas base. (Mod Podge will also work for this, but I prefer gel medium–it makes an awesome adhesive and, as a topcoat, it allows lots of flexibility with the painting you’re going to do on top.)
Once dry, I like to sand all the edges with regular old sandpaper to remove the sharp edges of the paper. Then brush a coat of gel medium over the top, too, making sure to get the paper’s edges so nothing peels up. At this point, you can also add any “flat” embellishments using the gel medium to adhere and topcoat them (I added the flower bunch on top and the tickets on the corner).
Once your topcoat is dry, it’s time for the messy part! Start with one acrylic pant color, and brush with a fairly dry brush anywhere and everywhere on the canvas. I like to start around the edges and “drag” the paint toward the center, gradually building up color and layers. Give the paint a few seconds to dry a bit, then use the damp paper towel to rub some of the paint off–this will soften the paint, move it around the canvas, AND it’s very forgiving: you can paint over a background element, then remove some of the paint to let the element peek through. Repeat with as much paint and as many colors as you like, brushing some paint on and wiping some off until you’re happy!
While the paint dries, cut out the elements you want to use (if any). To make them 3D, gently bend or fold them, then carefully coat the fronts with gel medium and let dry. This will keep them sturdy!
Now add finishing touches to your canvas! You may want to add some more visual texture with stamps and stencils (or even common household objects like bubble wrap or a toothy comb!) using either paint or inkpads. You can even rub an inkpad directly onto the canvas for a distressed look. I used a roller stamp from Queen & Co. for a subtle crosshatch texture on the corners and edges of my canvas.
Finally, add your 3D elements using your preferred adhesive. I use my handy gel medium for this job, too! I also like to use a soft-lead or charcoal pencil as a last step, smudging it with my finger around the edge of the canvas to “frame” everything and around a few important elements to help define them a little more.
Most importantly, have fun playing and enjoy your finished artwork! Be sure to share it with us in the hybrid gallery at The Digichick so we can all “ooh” and “aah” over it!
Other Articles by NikkiFB:
- A Treat for Santa... and for You! - December 24th, 2012
- Thanksgiving Countdown Banner - November 6th, 2012
- Personalized Hanging Hooks - October 12th, 2012
- Quick Hybrid Photo Mat - September 21st, 2012
- Hybrid Wrapped Wreath - August 27th, 2012