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Well that’s a first!

I’m currently teaching at a private school, that hosts an annual silent auction to raise money for everything student tuition doesn’t cover. Staff members are asked each year to donate either an item, or an “outing” for this event. Last year, I donated a “snack and craft” time with me (we made mini chipboard scrapbooks that turned out really cute), and this year I donated a “cookies and canvas” session.

Of course that is not an original idea of mine, I stole it after partaking in a “wine and canvas,” class at the end of last year. (I had a Groupon for half off at http://www.wineandcanvas.com) We painted “Monet inspired Lily Ponds.” This is what it was supposed to look like:Image

I won’t even show you where I appear in this picture 🙂


And this is what mine turned out to look like:

Last year I allowed 2 children (either siblings or the winner + 1 friend) to participate in the craft time, and I think I ended up raising about $180. This year I got smart and allowed 4 children total, and told the parents that they should pool their money and bid higher, instead of sticking one person with the check while the 3 friends get a free ride 🙂 It worked! I believe I raised closer to $230 this year.

Any who, now that I have gotten myself into this predicament, on May 4th, I will be attempting to teach 4 young artists (a group of girls I had two years in a row who adore me, just as I adore them) how to paint a canvas. I have also promised them these delicious looking rainbow swirl sprinkle cookies that I found on none other than Pinterest. (Tutorial to come.)

I also found a super cute painting that I plan to copy for this event…

So, here are the 10 easy steps I took to replicate it…

**All paints used were average acrylic paints you can purchase at your local craft store.

1. Paint a solid dark blue background. I tried to look up the name of the technique used in this painting, where you start with a dark color that subtly shows through the other layers, but unfortunately I could not find it. I had to paint 3 or 4 layers to get the “richness” I desired. (When applying each new layer, I alternated the direction in which I painted.) However, I like the effect of seeing brush strokes, and letting the under colors show through, so it’s really “artist’s discretion.” (A term coined from our friend Rob at the paint your own pottery place.)

2. This picture will have a portrait orientation, so turn your canvas “hot dog” style. Use a simple white colored pencil to roughly draw your outline. Do not sketch, measure, use a straight edge or any other such thing. You have permission from a perfectionist to just “wing it.” The less effort and thought process that goes into it, the more whimsical and better it becomes. If you will notice, I did not draw the stem or leaves of the flowers…yet. Those will come at a later time. Don’t get overzealous! In this case, less IS more 🙂

3. I started with light blue first. I used this color to paint both the stripes on the right side, and also the vases. Make sure when you paint the vases, you leave a dark blue “ring” around the opening. Let the background work for you, so you won’t have to come back and add details later! 🙂 This time I only used two coats, because I liked the way the dark blue slightly peeked through.

4. Next, I painted the lime green around the polka dots. There is a method to my madness (ie:  the order in which I am choosing to paint the colors). Again, I only used two coats, to stay consistent with the ongoing effect. Please notice that I left a thin dark blue outline around the vases.

5. After that, I painted the orange-red color. (Rectangle in the bottom right hand corner, and the petals of the flowers.) Again, I had to remind myself to be conscious of the center of the flower, and to leave a dark blue ring around it. I also left a thin blue border between the green section and the new rectangle. 2 coats as usual.

6. Next, I painted the centers of the flowers with two coats of yellow, leaving a thin border between them and the petals. Once it was dry I dipped the end of my paint brush in a puddle of the orginal dark blue color to create the dots in the center.

7. This was probably the most dreaded step for me…the white background. I hate white acrylic paint. It’s always thick and dries quickly so it feels “chunky” on the canvas and doesn’t flow smoothly. Kind of hard to explain it, I guess you just have to experience it for yourself. Also, there are a lot of straight edges in this step, and a lot of manuevering around objects. However, it was easier than I thought. After the second coat I was more than ready to be done with it 🙂

8. Here come the leaves that I know you didn’t forget about! Compared to the original painting, I didn’t quite leave enough room for a long pretty stem or big blooming leaves, but all part of my painting’s “character” I suppose. Notice how I ended the bottom of the stems at the light blue portion of the vases so they would appear to be “inside.” I also ended the top of the stems at the dark blue border around the flower, as opposed to bringing them all the way to the flower itself. You don’t have to do that, I just liked the way it looked. I used two coats…a little white showed through on the flower to the right, but I thought it could pass for a “vein,” hehe.

9. Almost done! This painting seems a little lacking, so in the bottom corner, on the rectangle, let’s add some text! The original painting reads, “there is such delight in the simplest of things.” However, I am working with 8 year old girls here, and I don’t think they would appreciate the depth of that quote yet 🙂 Therefore, I decided to change it to something more fitting…”it’s not what we see, it’s how we see it.” I figure this is in preparation of the girls comparing their paintings to each others’ and grumbling if something doesn’t turn out just right. 🙂 I split the quote into 5 lines of two words each. I then measured my box, which just so happened to be a little over 6 inches, so I used a strip of paper I already had that was a little bigger than an inch thick as a “spacer.” I lightly wrote the quote in pencil, then went over it with black paint. If you use a fine enough tipped brush, and lay the paint on thick enough, one coat should be more than enough.


10. Finally! Finish off your canvas by painting all of the sides the orange-red color. It will tie everything together and finalize the image…you don’t want to leave any messy edges! Try to guess how many coats of paint I used? If you guessed two, it was actually 4 🙂 I would’ve put more too, but for time and tutorial’s sake, I didn’t. If I ever do this project again, I will probably paint the sides dark blue at the beginning. The orange-red doesn’t really do a good job of going over the other colors.

And VOILA! There you have it. The original painting is listed on Etsy for $45. The price of a canvas ranges from $11-$15 depending on the quality you want. Because I am a poor assitant teacher, I was lucky enough to purchase the canvases on sale at 60%, plus I had an educator discount of an extra 15% off, so I was able to get each canvas for a little over $5 each. Paint is pretty inexpensive as well, so instead of paying $45, plus tax and shipping, you can paint your own in 10 easy steps for less than $10! Not as cute of course, but fun! And I was always taught, “Process over product.” 🙂


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and as always, I’d love to see if you create your own. I will update this post once I have actually taught this process to the girlies.

Some little trickster was able to sneak a picture of me working…please don’t let the absence of make up from my face scare you off 🙂

Up next, a birthday present for Little Miss Archer. Until then…