DIY Oversized Art for Under $125

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So, if you follow me on instagram you will have seen my GIANT canvas wall-art that I DIY’ed.

Yes. DIY’ed. Or I guess when I say it like that, it a DIM - did it myself -but you get the point.

I would just like to preface this blog post with a quick little pep talk to anyone who is reading it.

If you’re looking at this DIY and thinking:

“There is NO way that I could do this. You are just artsy, and naturally gifted, and creative, and could make anything look nice” (someone actually said this to me, this is not what I think of myself, ha!)…

You’re wrong. Like SUPER wrong. I am a graphic designer, but I am definitely not an illustrator, or a painter, or an artist in that way. I specialize in type, and branding, and things that do not require sketching and drawing. To be honest, I don’t even LIKE drawing - its not just that I wouldn’t include it as a marketable skill I have, I actually do not even enjoy it as like a private leisure activity. I mean, now it’s starting to sound like I HATE drawing, which I don’t - I’m just saying, I’m not more advantaged in this department than you are!

So, keep that in mind as you read along.

Why this project?

I’ll start with how I got to this project. I’ve seen a ton of oversized art recently and been totally taken with it - the only issue with this, is that I don’t have a few thousand dollars in my budget for art. I will say that I do think that art is worth it - however, that’s just not my reality right now - and so my option was to go without, or do something about it myself.

For a while I tried to think of what to do next - for context, my living room has had a picture ledge since we moved in - a few months away from - two years ago. I loved it - and when we first installed it, I was JAZZED. But since then, almost everything about our place has changed, and it just felt like it didn’t fit with who I wanted to be (from a decor perspective) at home.

Just for fun, let’s take a trip down memory lane, because I have to say, it was a good picture ledge - and I am proud to have had it in our home. I had so much fun curating the pieces and styling it - and I used to say things like - well I can change out the art anytime I want and have a totally new look! But, the art I did have was special to me, and I never really ended up changing it up - except to add a wedding photo etc - but that’s okay too.

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Okay, so like I said, I enjoyed the picture ledge, but it was really time to move on, for me. These were the kinds of pieces I was admiring - and they were definitely out of my budget, so I had to figure out a way to do this, for myself. Here’s what I was crushing on/inspired by/loving at the time:

The Inspiration

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How the DIY began:

So, I set out to figure out a way to make this happen, for me, within my budget of $200. Oh, by the way, I guess I could have told you earlier, but my budget was $200 - now you know!

I explored a few options; getting an oversized print from Juniper Print Shop and using the IKEA frame that they recommend but that put me over $200 (I’m Canadian, so there is an exchange rate, and shipping to consider). The other thing I considered, was this oversized piece of art from Structube. It seemed perfect at first, it was the perfect size, I liked the simple design of the black and white - to be fair, I didn’t LOVE it, but I liked it. The only issue, was that I couldn’t pick it up myself - like it literally wasn’t an option - I would have to pay $100 to have it delivered to my place.

While I was sharing the Structube piece with a friend (my insta bestie, Kerri) I said to her, well, if I don’t love it, I could always paint over it - and that’s what got me thinking about painting over an already created canvas. I wasn’t sure I was “artsy” enough to do it, and frankly I have a bit of an aversion to DIY’s - I feel like there is always a huge opportunity for them to become #PinterestFails and I hate that sometimes DIY’s cost just as much as buying it from a generic store - but, that’s beside the point.

We talked a bit about plain canvas’ and that’s when I realized that even just for the canvas at this size, the prices were REALLY steep. I was looking at at least $200 for a canvas this size at my local art store - or if I wanted the unwrapped canvas, to then wrap it would be an additional cost, and then I was worried about fitting it into my car. We have a Volkswagen Golf - so size is sometimes an issue - though you’d be surprised at what that car at fit inside of it!

So then I thought - what if I find a piece of art I find to be ugly, or just isn’t my taste and I paint over it? Can you do that? That’s when I stumbled upon Room for Tuesday’s blog post about how she did this with Home Goods art. Her blog post is a lot more detailed, and she definitely put more care into her DIY as mine was just sort of an a fun, Friday night experiment, so if you are someone who benefits from more clear guidelines, I would highly recommend checking out her blog post.

But, let’s get to what I settled on, and how I made this project happen.

Oversized Art DIY:

What I purchased:

  • 2 of these awful canvas’ from Jysk (no offence Jysk Art Buyer) - these were 60% during their Boxing Day sale, so I got both for around $70.

  • A small can of plain white paint - no specific colour, just the regular plain white indoor paint ($10)

  • One small can of Rustoleum’s chalk paint in charcoal (i bought the smaller size, but they don’t have charcoal online in the small one, so linking a larger one here) ($15)

  • 3 sample pots - one in Sandstone Cliff, one in Off White and one in Intellectual ($15) - I chose different finishes (matte, eggshell, semi-gloss - just to give it some texture as I didn’t want it to fall flat

  • 1 small roller - here is a similar one to the one I purchased. ($8)

  • I also used some paint brushes, but I already owned these. I just used brushes you might use for cutting in, if you were paint a room. I thought I would need some smaller “art” brushes, so I had those handy but didnt end up using them.

  • I also used a cheese knife (I already owned this, and it was a spur of the moment decision - I’ll explain it later!)

Total cost: $118

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Time spent: 4-5 hours (really depends on drying time) - actual activity took about 2-3 hours

The Step by Step:

And to really get down to it, here is what I did:

I did this project inside - so even if you have a small space, and can’t work outside, this is a project you can do inside an apartment!

  1. First, I cut open a garbage bag and taped it over the dining table, so that I didn’t get any paint on my table.

  2. Then I changed into some paint friendly clothing, and set the first canvas on top of the dining table.

  3. I painted the cavas’ white, with the plain white paint. Including the edges, I just tried to get a solid coat to cover that awful lion - ha!

  4. I let that dry, a bit - but ultimately painted over it before it was fully dry. I started with the off white paint, and just poured it right onto the canvas, and used the brush it brush it around to create a warmer base.

  5. After that, I wish I could be more precious, but I just had to experiment. I first painted a bunch of patches with the different colours, just to create a textured base for the painting. As I let it sit for a bit, I even used a pencil to draw some shapes on the vase, and create some interesting lines.

  6. My biggest tip would be to let things dry about 80% and then use a brush to smooth out the shapes and lines - this really helped create the flow-y abstract feeling

  7. And finally, I needed something on top of the canvas - to add some interest. I didn’t know how to draw fine lines with the chunky brushes I had, so I thought - maybe I just need to get my Jackson Pollock on and drip some paint on this bad boy? So I grabbed a cheese knife - nothing fancy about it - just a regular ole cheese knife, and dipped it into the chalk paint, and splattered my way around the canvas.

The Final Product:

And, voila - here is what I ended up with:

The best part about Abstract Art is that you can’t really do it wrong. I did have to paint over a few different layers that looked back, or a corner that wasn’t working, but I just kept at it - and eventually it worked out! So, don’t give up, or get intimidated as you start to paint. When I say anyone could do this, I truly mean it. You just need to dedicate some times to getting your abstract paint on!

Is there anything I missed? Anything you’re curious about? Let me know! Would be happy to answer you!