a project for your little picasso...

this project was so much fun for my little lucy, who was four years old at the time. i had an expanse of wall space that needed a little flair, canvases were on sale at hobby lobby, and lucy needed a quiet indoor activity during little sister's nap time. you can obviously make this project as big or as small as you'd like. lucy has smaller, framed versions in her bedroom and bathroom. also, a four inch square painted canvas
propped on a little easel makes a charming, colorful gift for grandparents, etc. after completing our project, lucy was actually comissioned by a family friend to create a series of three giant canvas panels for their master bedroom. she is in the process of completing those in the first image above. the second collage of images shows the canvas she painted for our kitchen. (playrooms are also great places for these masterpieces!)
if you are going to take on this super fun & messy project, you'll need:
  • canvas/canvases (hobby lobby often has a sale on these - they are in the art department) i recommend the canvases that are wrapped around a thick wood frame. they are ready to hang and do not need a frame.

  • multiple tubes of acrylic paint (e.g. apple barrel brand craft paint) you will need to choose one main color to use as your background paint (i don't recommend leaving the canvas white) in the examples above, the first entire background is deep red, and the second canvas is turquoise. choose several colors to layer together. make sure you have dark, medium & light colors to give the painting some depth.

  • paint brushes (you will need one large brush for the background color, and lots of different sizes and styles of brushes for the paint layers. lucy used all sizes & shapes of foam & nylon brushes.)

  • paper bowls or plates for the paint

  • spray gloss acrylic sealant for the finished product...also available at hobby lobby

  • lots of wet and dry shop towels

  • newspaper

  • paint clothes
  • spread newspaper under your canvas (you might need two spots for this project. your artist might want to paint standing up, with the canvas propped up against a wall, table or window, and sitting down on the floor or at a table. moving around encourages a bigger variety of strokes, etc...)

  • paint two layers of your base color over the entire canvas - front and sides -and let it dry

  • pour paint into containers - it's okay to put a few colors next to each other on the plate or in the bowl. they will naturally want to mix the colors, and as long as they don't mix them too much into a bland grey, the results can be very interesting...

  • lay out all the paint brushes on the newspaper....you will be washing these out a lot in the next few days!

  • begin painting canvas...i pretty much let lucy do her own thing, although i did discourage her from drawing people and houses in the beginning, and encouraged her to fill up as much of the canvas as possible. turn the canvas as you go to make sure it is getting even coverage. you don't really want a "top" and "bottom"...you want it covered.

  • let them experiment....lucy wadded up a paper towel at one point and dabbed on paint, making interesting patterns, then eventually swirled her hands in the paint and over the canvas. if you look closely at the finished product, you can find her precious little handprint hidden in the pattern. (i did have to step in when she dipped her bare foot into the paint bowl....)

  • let the first layer dry and come back to it in a day or two.

  • paint another layer on the canvas... paint over the previous patterns without covering them completely. with just one paint application, the painting will look flat and rather one-dimensional, but the layers create depth. i had lucy do three full layers on our big canvas.

  • spray a couple coats of acrylic gloss over your masterpiece, and hang it with pride!

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