Monthly Archives: August 2016

Time to Get Back to Work


The last few months have brought some big changes to my life. Lochinvar has a new job, the child moved and started a teaching career, and we have spent the summer re-thinking the business. In the midst of our total reorganization, I’ve poured my creative energy into decorating projects around the house including coming up with some low cost artwork

This project started when I was at a home store looking at paintings to spruce up a guest room. It seems that I’m always drawn to birds, flowers, butterflies, etc., and I found several I liked. They were all fairly small and went for $20-$25 each. Since I couldn’t bring myself to fork over $80 to $100 to fill a small space in a big room, I decided to make my own.

I started with a package of four 9 x 12 canvases that I picked up at a discount retailer for about $10. Then, I used craft paint from my stash to create a multi-colored background that coordinated with my room. I started with a pale blue base, and then used a paper towel to “smudge” on sandy brown, dark yellow, and pearlized gold. These created a mottled background with a reflective quality from the pearl finish paint.

Next I taped together four sheets of paper and created a single drawing that I could then separate out onto the four canvases. This allowed me to have four pieces of art, but one unified picture.


I used graphite paper to trace the outline of my drawing onto the canvases. Aside from the canvases, this is the only other material I purchased for this project. The graphite paper came in a multi-sheet pack, and I only used one sheet to trace all four of the pages, so it was a bargain. (By the way, don’t use carbon paper for this step because you won’t be able to erase stray lines or marks.) Next, I went over the outline with a fine tip black sharpie.


Since I don’t feel I’m a great painter (and I don’t have a huge stash of paint colors), I used alcohol-based markers to color in my drawing.

As you can see, I colored the canvas just as I would color any drawing in one of my books. I started with some lighter tones in the middle, and then blended with the darker color around the edges. The ink was pretty wet and sat on top of the painted canvas for a minute which allowed for easier blending.

Here’s how the canvases looked after I finished coloring them all.

Here’s the two-by-two layout on my art table and on the wall in my guest room.

In total, this project only took two or three hours. The longest part was making the initial drawing, but by the time I finished it the canvases were completely dry. (I didn’t wait for the paint to dry thoroughly when I created the backgrounds because I wanted it all to blend. Each coat had time to mostly dry as I painted the other canvases, and then went back to the beginning for the next step.)

Once the drawing is made, it can be used over and over again. You could paint the same two-by-two picture in multiple colors (to sell, give away, or enlarge the art installation). Another option is to draw a one page sketch and repeat the same picture in four colors to hang together in a row or square (think Andy Warhol).

If you are not confident in drawing your own picture, consider tracing elements (like a bird, butterfly, or flower) from a coloring book on to the canvas.

In the end, this project provided a quick and easy low-cost option to add color to my guest room. It was forgiving and easily adaptable to any theme or motif. Happy coloring!