Transform old artwork into watercolor

July 22, 2012

When we had some of the downstairs walls repainted last month, I had to figure out what I was going to do with the large rectangles I had created with molding above the living room sofa (sorry about the old pic, I couldn’t find a newer shot):

I’ve had it up there for years so I was kind of feeling like a change, but I wasn’t sure what kind of change. Thing is, I knew if I left it as is then I did take the trim down later, I would end up with the pinkish wall color behind that molding that I would have to paint.

So to avoid that, I took all the trim down before they painted – I figured I could put it back up pretty easily if I wanted.

After the wall painting was done, it wasn’t long before I couldn’t handle the empty wall, so I went ahead with an idea that had been growing in my head for awhile. ;)

I had a large canvas art print I had purchased years and years ago on clearance that wasn’t really my style anymore. I almost took it to the consignment shop a while back, but decided to keep it with ideas of reworking it.

So rework it I did. :) I started by priming it a couple times:

priming canvas

Then I grabbed as many colors as I could find in my stash that worked with that room. I wanted mostly aqua and blue tones but also wanted to pull in the wall color in the room.

So the Bub and I opened them all up (I think we used seven colors total), and I would pour paint on the canvas (totally randomly) and he would paint:

DIY canvas art

At first I thought, what in the heck am I doing?? But then…the more we poured and brushed, the more it came together.

And I tell you what – it was FUN! We were making art! :)

I figured out about half way in that I needed to keep a “wet edge” on my paint brush –- otherwise the paint was pulling a bit the more I added to the canvas.

So I got a cup with water, and I would dip the brush in, then paint, and it went so much better. It kept the paint really smooth and easy to work with.

When we were done (and it was hard to stop!!), I couldn’t have been more pleased!

You can see on the left where it was pulling a bit, so the paint wasn’t as smooth. On the right, it’s more flowing:

And when all was said and done, I actually like the combo of the two textures. I totally meant to do that. ;)

I was trying to have the colors continue onto the sides perfectly, but I just ended up painting them when I was done:

reusing art canvas

I LOVE how it turned out – we are arteests!! ;) DIY art blue cream

The Bub thinks it looks like clouds (he kept telling me as we were working on it, which I thought was adorable). I think it looks like waves – either way I think it turned out pretty darn beautiful. :)

I love that the texture of the original art still shows through too:

blue DIY art

Of course it’s not nearly as wide as the molding was, but I think it works well on that wall. At first I was going to make another large rectangle around it and paint it out white, so it “frames” it a bit. But now I’m not sure – I’ve decided I’m going to live with it as is (by itself) for a while and see what comes to me:

DIY art canvas

I may go ahead with the trim, I may do a couple large sconces? I’m not sure, but I know with time the right thing will pop in my brain. It may be years. ;) But until then, I’m enjoying it as is!

I can’t believe we created this – it’s so fun to tell people we painted it. :) I know I say this a lot, but this could NOT have been any easier to do this. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to it – we just swiped the paint back and forth, added more, painted back and forth, over and over till it was covered. (And it’s not even covered perfectly.)

When there was too much of one color in one area, I just poured on another and brushed it in. Like I said – it was a BLAST. I truly enjoyed it. And may do it again. ;)

Have you ever created your own art? Did it turn out how you hoped it would? Better? Worse? :)

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  1. OOh, so pretty! I love the colors! Looks great with the rest of your room too!

  2. Looks so fresh over the sofa!
    We actually DO paint in my house, LOL, and I have something up done by me, daughter and son...son has branched out to an etsy shop as well!

    Check him out here:

  3. Oh I love it. Back in the day, I did this in our first apartment. I so wish I still had it too, because it was one of my favorite things I ever created.

  4. I really like it! It's amazing how it's just perfect for that room and I love the fact you & your son painted it together! What a special memory!

  5. Oh, Sarah, I love it! More so knowing you and your son did it together. Maybe a complimentary work by you and Bub on each side would help complete the space. The new wall color is perfect and very upscale!

  6. This looks so good, I love the colours, and what a great idea!

    I love your style,and taste in decor. Your parlour is really nice.


  7. What kind of paints did you use?

  8. I love how it turned out. Where did you get the pillows on the sofa? I just repainted a accent wall a grey/blue color and now I need to update pillows.

  9. love the color tones and very painterly....yes in art this is a word...I have many of my art hanging around....I have not done anything in a long time...but paint...yeap,but lots on stuff I find...time to look at stuff ans see what I can find.

  10. In love with the blue, so pretty! My daughter would love to do this so I better show her this post. She'll be hunting around the house for a canvas, count on it!

  11. It looks amazing! My favorite thing about it is the fact that your son made it with you - that is what I call making a house into a home. More than just a place to decorate, you infuse your family into it ;-)

  12. I LOVE how it looks and stands out in your living room. What a sweet project and way to bond with your son.

  13. I say sconces with the painting. I like the pop of color with your pillows!
    This is a nice update from the trim on the wall, more clean looking.

  14. It looks gorgeous! And how special that you two made it together. I think it would look really great with three (or two, depending on the size) on either side of the painting...a "gallery" of sorts. It would frame out your fab artwork, and make it the focal point! Great job!

  15. I love it! It looks like water or waves to me. It's great over the sofa. Nice work! I have an old canvas print also and was thinking of selling it, but now you have me thinking...

  16. It looks great! What a fun project - love how the whole room is looking - paint, pillows, etc. So pretty!

  17. I love this look Sarah! So simple, and inexpensive, and FUN! We did something similar a couple of years ago--my novice painter of a husband started messing around with oil paint and before we knew it he'd painted a big blue wave. He said it was easy to do. I have a pic of it on this post I did for another project a while back.

    Thanks for sharing your painting, and great job!

    Barbara @ Chase the Star

  18. It's wonderful that you and your son created this together! It's, also, inspiring me to give it a try. Pinning this. ~ Maureen

  19. Fun! What a great project! It looks like a total blast. I would love to do that with my husband.

  20. Such a great addition! Congratulations!

  21. Love this idea, I don't have any spare canvas's but I will certainly be having a look at my local charity shop as I want to have a go at this!

  22. That's so pretty! And, you're giving me an idea for some additional artwork to a really big wall I need to fill, somehow. Thanks!!

  23. This looks really good, very calming and peaceful and my fav sort of art, homemade with heart! It must feel so good walking into the room and going 'oh this old thing....well we made it". I would love to try this.

  24. David Bromstad would be proud!

  25. great work - I love that your son helped you - looks perfect over the sofa - I don't think it needs the moulding around it all - in time maybe your son can paint some smaller canvasses in similar colours to add and make a collage of works...

    Cheryl from Ontario

  26. I LOVE that! I have toyed around with the idea of reusing canvas in my head....but didn't think it would turn out that well. You have reinspired me to be brave! It is gorgeous! And what a memory for Bubs!

  27. Beautiful! The painting along with the other accessories really opens and lightens up the room, giving it a summery feel. Seasonal decorations aren't just for Christmas!

  28. This looks fab. It would look great with your families monogram in the center as well. Thanks for sharing!

  29. It looks terrific!! Not only will you enjoying looking at it but you will recall the fun time with your son while painting it. I teach preschool and we have the children paint on watercolor paper with crayola watercolors (they are so vivid!) and then glue their masterpiece to a black mat for a mother's day gift. It is always a treasured gift and the mat makes it pop!

  30. That did turn out FANTASTIC! The colors are gorgeous.

    I LOVE creating my own art. We have several of my pieces and my son's artwork throughout our home. Your right... it gives you a sense of pride, joy, love and uniqueness! I am always an advocate for self-made art... especially when you get the familym involved like you did.

    I blogged about my technique here:

    I really enjoy doing it! Keep up the good work!!!!!

  31. I love the wall color - may I ask what the shade/brand is?

  32. Yes I did something very similar for our church's youth room.

    I bought a huge (I mean HUGE!) framed art print at a thrift store. Painted over the 1980's icky scene/colors with latex then started the "artistic" part. I painted a scene I had a dream about. Mind you, I'm no artist on canvas, but I think it turned out pretty nicely. The kids like it and I got a lot of compliments from people in the church.

    It was a great way to use up some old paint and draw in the colors in the room.

    The best part of your project is that you and your little guy had FUN doing it and you love it! And of course, it looks great too :-)

  33. That art looks so awesome! I love the way it turned out!

  34. I love it! What an amazing transformation your room has made. Would you mind sharing where you got the 2 chairs for your living room? I have been on the hunt for something similar and have yet to find just what I'm looking for.

  35. LOVE it!! It really grabs the blues from around the room!
    What about 4 framed pics of the family (2 on each side)? Like simple white Ikea frames and if the pics can have some blue in them - even better! :)
    I think it would add a little more interest to the wall without being too busy if they all have the same frame.
    Just a thought! :)

  36. Ha! I just tried to do this with my kiddos this weekend and the end result is not something I'd hang on the wall! Maybe I over thought it? Although I think more likely it;'s that I listened to all their color choice: hot pink and orange as predominant colors, then green, yellow, blue, navy... you ge the idea:)

  37. I love it~ you inspire me every day!

  38. Do you and the Bubs do commissioned artwork because this would look perfect in my den! :) Y'all should sign and date it in the corner. Wouldn't it be cute when visitors looked up close to see the signature to find out it's the both of yours!

  39. Ooh! SO pretty! If you decide to go the sconce route, a couple of something like these would look pretty snazzy on each side:

    We got the pillar holders last year and we've really been enjoying them! :-)

  40. Oh fun! I like that you reused the canvas, and my fave part is that you did it with your son! How special and fun for both of you.

  41. SO FUN! I love doing projects with my kids, and I doubly love it when they're actually usable. lol ;)

    It might be kind of pretty to make it a center piece of a gallery wall? I know it's kind of large, but maybe a small porthole mirror (since your pic reminds you of the sea and the sky), and some small black and white photos?

    Love, love, love it! I may commission my girls to do one for their own bedroom. They'd have a blast!


  42. It's gorgeous Sarah! The colors are so pretty. I have a giant canvas- I think you've given me the courage to bust out the paint and try it myself. Thank you!

  43. I just repurposed a canvas, too! But I turned mine into a wreath:

    Love your color combo!

  44. Soooooo pretty! The colors are gorgeous. I love original art like that. Nothing can beat it! :) I did something similar last fall. LOVED how it turned out too! Painting is so fun - even when you're not an artist. :) Here's the link to my "masterpiece" if you want to check it out:

  45. My daughter and I made some art using the same idea for my office.
    Love yours!

  46. Beautiful! Makes me want to try it! Do you ever watch Color Splash on HGTV? David Bromstad (sp?) uses a spray bottle with water to loosen his paint.


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