If you ask me if I can draw, I would laugh and say the only thing worse than my singing is my drawing. If you asked me to draw a person, this is exactly what you would get.
So you say you can’t draw a straight line? Me either. But the funny thing about art is, rarely does it involve straight lines, so you’re going to have to come up with another excuse NOT to try this! If you think you can’t do this, guess what? You’re WRONG! You can. If I can do it, believe me, you can too! I’m going to take you through the steps, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to come up with your own nifty little piece of art, but first, a little background.
If you’ve been reading along the last couple of months, you know we have a log cabin weekend home. The original house was apparently really, really, small, and the previous owners added on behind this ‘window’, which used to be where the back of the home ended. (Ooops, the white thingie is the tension rod just waiting for the canvas. Forgot to take it down for the picture.)
The ‘interesting’ thing (a-hem) is the addition directly behind this on the other side is the master bath. And yes, these are ‘faux’ stained glass windows. Not only do I not really like faux stained glass (love the real stuff though), but you can see into the bathroom from this room, which is the living room. Not good.
Suffice it to say up until now I put a curtain behind it, but the overall look is not really what I’m going for so I decided to figure something out. I started looking on line for some art work, but everything was expensive because it’s a fairly large space (almost 7′ wide and about 5′ high), and nothing quite worked anyway. Then came success! I came across a fairly simple tritpych which was perfect because I had three ‘panels’ to cover so I was inspired to try to duplicate it. Here is a thumbnail version of it:
I started thinking about colors and decided to stay true to the original except for the middle vase, which I made green. I purchased some canvas at an art supply store and with hubby’s help, measured and carefully cut the three pieces. Each piece was 2′ wide since I didn’t want to cover the entire space, just the faux glass part. I added 2.5″ to the top and bottom for a ‘hem’ after I determined the size of the rod.
I didn’t have to buy any paint for the base color, just used what I had which was basically white, burnt umber and shades of beige and brown. I used a cross hatch stroke method so there would be obvious brush strokes and variants of color. If you don’t know what that means, you basically hold the brush near the bristles, and paint left to right, right to left using short, semi-circular strokes. After doing the base color, I let it dry completely, which meant I had to leave it alone for a week, which is when we returned to the cabin.
I decided to keep within the proportions of the original, so I made the brownish colored bottom portion about 1/4 the size of the overall piece and the vase about 1/3 and the stems and flowers the remainder. Hubby measured, being careful to find the center and he outlined for the vases because they needed to be precise and I totally don’t have patience for that stuff, but the leaves and flowers were freehand.
Although I have tons of paint, both acrylic and oil, my friend lent me some oil paint that cleans up with water! I had never heard of this before and let me tell you, they’re GREAT! Thanks Cheryl!
She also lent me a deco paint pen, which I found extremely helpful for outlining. I ran out of it half way through and purchased the Sharpie, which I didn’t like quite as much and ended up outlining freehand most of the time. I think it’s because it was ‘extra fine’, when ‘fine’ was what I needed.
So first, after outlining and getting a pretty good idea of where I wanted the leaves and stems to go, I painted the bottom brownish part first. I used a few colors here for interest, such as burnt umber, light brown, black and even a touch of red. After that dried a bit, I painted in the vases. This paint takes a while to dry. Days, even weeks if it’s humid. It was time to leave for the week, but when I returned I then painted the stems, let it dry overnight and then did the flowers. Again, it was time to leave and upon our return a week later, I started doing the really fun part, which is the shading of the flowers, leaves and even the vases.
The flowers are pretty simple to do. Just draw a wide half circle, and three pointy leaf shapes that connect and you’re done. Trust me, it’s easy!
It’s hard to mess up the leaves, but if you want to sketch them out with a pencil, go for it. For the stems, don’t make them all one width, or it won’t look natural. Try to keep them thinner at the part where they meet the flower. You know, just like nature :). You’ll notice the bottom of the canvas wasn’t painted. That’s because it was going to be hemned, and the less bulk the better.
Here’s a flower after lining it and filing it in with red paint. I wanted you to see how I messed up the stem. See how the black is too fat? No worries. I let it dry a bit and covered it up with some green paint. It’s hard to mess this up!
Here you can see the pencil line so I knew where to fold for the hem. I decided to use hot glue to hold the hem in place, which seems to have worked nicely.
Are you ready to see the final product in all its glory?
It’s kind of a bummer that the left one is hidden a bit. I’m going to be painting that rocking chair in ASCP Old White, and also the ‘table’ portion of the lamp. That pillow will be gone too.
*Edited on 9/16* We decided to add some white picture frame molding around the opening. We think it looks a little more polished and helps it to stand out a bit more.
So here are some close ups, to give you an idea of how I fancied up the flowers and leaves. Just using a thin brush with black paint and then a touch of white really brought it to life. The background isn’t as white as it looks in this picture, it’s closer to the one below it.
For the white flowers, I used some yellow and orange paints, as well as some black. Blending is important when you’re doing this. You don’t want obvious starts and finishes to show up!
For the leaves, I used black, yellow and varying shades of green. This is where you can really have fun because it’s hard to make a mistake.
You see the fuzzy black line on the right? If this happens, don’t freak out. It’s really not noticeable. I just wanted to show you that you can have a cool piece of art and it doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’.
I used some white paint on the left side of the vase. It doesn’t look as good here as it does in person. It looks nice and gives the vase character and a realistic look if you see it from a normal distance.
If you decide to try something like this, here’s what you’ll need:
Quality brushes. This is important! Beg, borrow or steal, but don’t use cheap brushes! You don’t need ‘artist’ quality though. Mid range is just fine. The right sizes are important too, especially for outlining.
Quality paint: I recommend the paint I used. I’m spoiled now. Now would be a good time to mention that at times I felt like I needed to water down the paint to have the right consistency, so have some water handy. If you decide to use latex, it’s probably not as much of an issue. The great thing about this paint is you can thin it with water. I don’t know how that works, but it does! And get a paint pen too.
Rags and plastic gloves (of course)
Good music 🙂
You’re probably not going to do it on a piece of canvas like I did, but rather a pre-made canvas that you would hang on the wall like a regular painting/picture. But I suggest you get maybe a small piece of ‘scrap’ canvas to use for experimenting with your colors.
If not, lots of small paper plates will work too.
So here’s a little side by side view. Whatdaya’ think?
Just in case you didn’t click over to the site where I got the inspiration for this, I will tell you the original art work is $450, and considerably smaller. My total cost was around $30, but that was because I already had the brushes and got the paint for free. If you have to start from scratch, you could probably spend no more than $50-$75, depending on how many paint colors you need and the kinds of brushes you purchase.
I hope you give something like this a try! It’s lots of fun and I guarantee you can do it!
Now if only I can work on my singing…