Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nursery Art

I have always loved art.  In high school, I was in the AP track and also did band and played soccer, so I didn't have anywhere to squeeze art into my schedule.  So my senior year, I begged the art teacher to take me after soccer ended which was part-way into the second semester.  Eventually, she let me.

Going into college, my potential majors were: Psychology, English, Music, Graphic Design, and Biology.  I know...these aren't even in the same schools!  I settled on Psychology and English.  I was in the marching band and symphonic band at UCLA which was awesome so I still got my music fix, but not art.

So I decided to create at least some of Dylan's nursery art.

I googled "How to paint acrylic on canvas" and looked for diy acrylic art on Pinterest and eventually came across this post:

Grr...why is it that I don't pin the sites I actually use?  I can't find the original and it doesn't make sense to show a different one.  Moving on...

I would say this is pretty easy on the scale of DIY, so you could attempt your own even if you are not artistic in the slightest!  The hardest part for me was the stripes, and then spray painting. Well...and being a perfectionist. That makes everything harder.

To briefly summarize the process, you paint the canvas however you like, then stick vinyl letters on.  Spray paint the entire thing.  Then peel the letters off to reveal what is underneath.  If you want the letters to be white, you can do the opposite.

Here's what I did.

Step 1: Buy materials

Canvas - I got an 18 x 24 gallery wrap. It's quite big, but I needed "dinosaur" to fit.
Acrylic paint - I used the primary nursery colors of gray, aqua, orange and lime and added red, green and yellow, to make it a little different.
A Palette, and
Vinyl Letters - I got 3 inch Helvetica and 4 inch Nueva (I think 2 inch would have been better).

I got everything at Michaels.

Step 2: Plan

I cut out all of my letters (and found I was short 1 O, 1 N, and 1 U) and then played around with different arrangements on the canvas.  This took days before I was happy! (I used zeros to substitute for 2 of the O's and pieced together an N and U from other pieces which was a little difficult, but worked.)

I also had to decide what color I wanted each of the words to be.  I put some splotches of pain on some cardboard and laid it next to the canvas, but mostly I just visualized it.

Step 3: Paint

I made pencil marks around the edges of the words so I knew where to paint to.

Then I painted.  This was the easy part!  Until I got to the stripes at the top.  That was a bitch.  Half way through I hated it and so I quit working on it for like two weeks.  Eventually I got my motivation back and was happy with the end product.

Notes about painting: Based on my googling, I thought that acrylic would cover different colors of acrylic easily.  It doesn't.  And it didn't depend on the color.  The red would not cover the light green, but other colors covered the red pretty easily.  I ended up having to slather on paint to make corrections so the top is textured which I don't really mind. I also used a dry brush and washed after each color because I was scared of the wet brush, but I think it would work damp just fine.

Step 4: Stick letters on

I just eye-balled the letter placement, but it would be better to use a ruler.  The most important thing is that the letters are close enough together to look like normal text.

I thought it looked pretty cool like this, but I don't want black in his room...

Step 5: Spray Paint

I don't believe I have ever spray painted in my life, despite watching it done millions of times on HGTV, so this wasn't as easy as I wanted it to be.

I spray painted on the grass outside.  I probably scared the neighbors by cursing at the top of my lungs when my lovely dog decided to dig a rapid hole on the edge of where I was painting and send tiny bits of dirt flying onto wet paint.  I also got a few bugs.

The instructions tell you to stay 10-12 inches above the painting and this is important.  I got a couple of pools of paint, but it's not terribly noticeable.  

The hardest part is that the force of the spray caused the edges of the letters to fly up.  Then end result is kind of a shaded effect which actually looks kind of cool, but it's not what I intended.  Also, I ran out of paint so I had to do a 3rd coat after it had dried completely and all of the letters curled.  I pushed them back down as best I could, but was terrified to spray over them at that point.  I just did the parts that really needed it and was as careful as possible.

I didn't take a picture of this step.  Imagine "all white with textured letters underneath!" :)

Step 6: Peel letters

This was the fun part.  It was super easy to peel the letters off and this is the end result.

We have a bit of a dinosaur theme in our nursery (which I am planning to reveal once I get all of the art up...hopefully before Dylan is 1!) and I wanted the phrase "Rawr means I love you in dinosaur" somewhere because it's so adorable.  I'm putting the newborn picture of Dylan as a dinosaur from the last post up next to this.


  1. Oh my gosh. I love this so much. I am going to tell my sis about this as my nephew is obsessed with dinosaurs.Great job!!!