Canvas Art DIY

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I made these fun pieces of art by transferring photographs of both of my grandmothers (aren't they beauties?) onto canvas and gave them as Christmas presents this year.  So easy to do and inexpensive and totally unique.  Sounds like a perfect do-it-yourself to me.  I've seen it before but Elsie from A Beautiful Mess gave a great tutorial that got me started.

You need:
--canvas board (like the kind that you'd image an artist painting on) - purchase at any craft store.  Tip: they range from cheap to spendy and for this project you can get cheap ones. They go on sale all the time.  I got these two 8X10 boards for $4 at Hobby Lobby.
--gel medium - also purchase at craft stores like Michaels or Amazon.
--paint brush
--photo copy of your image in the same size as your canvas (it will reverse during transfer so if you pick an image with writing you'll want to get a reversed image when you copy it).  I chose old family photographs and its such a beautiful way to display those.  Old photos are almost ALWAYS gorgeous.  Also it won't work if you just try to print it at your home printer. Just get your butt over to Kinkos okay?

1. Paint the gel medium over your canvas.  This is what does the transferring so make sure its thick and covering the entire board.  It'll clog your sink a little as well so its best to wash it off as much as possible elsewhere or let water run for awhile when you clean your brush. 

2. Place your image face down onto the canvas and just push down with your fingertips all over.  You gotta let it dry over night (or at least a few hours).  I know that sucks when you're excited to see it but......wait til its DRY.

3.  Once its DRY....wet the paper with your paint brush.  You might want to start in one area to get the feel of how wet it needs to be.  Not soaked, but enough that the paper begins to peel as you rub it. 

4. With your fingertip gently start rubbing the paper and it will start to come off.  Be careful so that you don't rub too far that the image comes off as well.  It gives it a cool look though to have some places come up.  Just work with it.  Each piece is different and love whatever you get.  I purposely scrubbed a little harder along the edges and corners for that uneven look.

Keep at it.  The rubbing off process takes time and you don't want to rush it.  Get off as much as you think is right. Let it dry.  If it looks grayish still and you're not getting black blacks - then there's still paper on there. Get it wet and rub it off again until you get what you want.  

5. Once it is done and ready, cover with one more coat of gel medium to protect the image from peeling more. 

I love how they turn out!  Such a fun alternative to simply framing and hanging.   


  1. do you just use regular paper when you copy the picture?

  2. Wondering about the type of paper you printed your picture on?? Does it work with all types of paper? Or does it have to be photo paper?

  3. I used used regular old copy paper - the kind that is already loaded into the copy machine when you go into the store. I went to Fed Ex and just made my own copy in their DIY machines. I'm not sure if any other types of paper work or not!


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