Big Impact, Little Budget Art

While reading a recent post by Young House Love about their affordable artwork, I realized I should probably share our affordable artwork! Plus, who doesn’t need a jolt of color to make it through these last weeks of winter?

Last spring and summer we were looking for a little big something to fill the blank wall above our bed. With a king sized bed and 10+ foot ceilings, it definitely had to be something that filled the space and made an impact. But we didn’t want it to significantly impact our bank account.

We really liked the Classical Symmetry prints from Crate ‘& Barrel, but couldn’t fathom spending $369 plus tax and possibly shipping. I considered framing scrapbook paper or fabric, but didn’t see six patterns I liked. I looked for artwork on Etsy, but John and I could never agree on something. We kept going back to those darn C ‘& B prints. Guess that meant I was making them myself!

Gather your supplies. I purchased everything from Dick Blick. Your local craft store should have everything you need:

  • Canvases
  • Acrylic paint in a multitude of colors
  • Stencil brushes
  • Stencil film
  • Patterns to trace
  • X-Acto knife (box cutter also works for simple patterns)
  • Cutting board (I used a flattened cereal box)
  • High tech water cup to rinse brushes
  • Painter’s tape for chevron pattern and to secure stencil to canvas 

Making a stencil
Print off the pattern you’d like to make into a stencil. Shrink or blow up the print using a copier as necessary. Trace the pattern onto your stencil film. Cut out the pattern using an X-Acto knife (or a box cutter if you temporarily lose your X-Acto knife like me). Be sure you leave some “tabs” to hold the center part of the stencil. You’ll paint over the gaps later. And you definitely don’t need a fancy “self-healing” mat when cutting out your stencil. I used a flattened cereal box as my cutting board. 

This Morrocan stencil was made using the template from fresh crush, found via Design*Sponge. And if you’re looking to make some chevron canvases, you can find the tutorial at Makeunder My Life. Jess’s chevron paintings have made quite the splash around the Internet.

Hard at work with wine glass nearby

Tips

  • It’s better to paint two thinner coats of paint than one heavy one. You’re more likely to get paint under the stencil if you glop it on.
  • I used painter’s tape to hold the stencil to the canvas.
  • Sometimes the paint can get underneath the stencil. Be sure to wipe it off the stencil so you’re not tracking it around your canvas. You can also use a damp paper towel or a clean wet brush to remove fresh paint that’s gone awry.

To hang your canvases, nail some sawtooth picture frame hangers to the back of the canvas. Hang them up and admire your craftiness!


Approximate cost breakdown 

  • 6 canvases (18 x 18) – $40
  • 6 tubes of acrylic paint  – $20
  • Set of stencil brushes – $5
  • 2 packs of stencil film – $8
  • X-Acto knife – $3
  • Painter’s tape – $5
Grand total - $81

And I still have lots of paint, a few leftover stencil films, and can reuse the brushes and X-Acto knife.

Yes, I know the paintings don’t exactly coordinate with the wall color. If I had it my way, the walls would be a different color. But since we’re still renting and can’t paint the walls, we have to deal with it. Hopefully the canvases will coordinate better in our new house :)
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Comments

  1. Lu says

    These are fantastic! I am working on finally doing something with our living room and this will be perfect for adding a touch of color without a theme (like, birds or spring or whatever) so I can keep it year-round… because I’m like that with decor: lazy. :)

  2. Cathy says

    Thanks ladies!

    Lu – Hope to see what you’re doing on the blog. And the only seasonal decorating I do it for Christmas. Everything else is around the whole year.

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