I painted something pink! For those of you that know me…pink in my home decor is unheard of (it’s all teal and lime around here). But I was itching for a little girly color splash in my house full of boys. I have wanted to add a dash of pink to the striped half bathroom since the day I painted the first coat on those blue and white stripes. The blue was just screaming for a complimentary red or pink color. I wanted something bold and graphic.
I decided to make my own art using a simple phrase I love. “Live, Laugh, Love” is something you see printed on everything, but for us it has special meaning. The beach house we rented for our wedding had a plaque in it with this phrase. My best friend and bridesmaid coincidentally wrapped up our wedding gift with a cute little ornament that says “live, laugh, love”. We hang that ornament on our Christmas tree every year. Several years ago I found a plaque with the saying for under $10 at Target. It has hung in all three of our homes. It was damaged in our first move and now it looks aged with one of the ornaments broken. I still love it. In our last home, one buyer actually asked for it in the contract. We said no to that request and she did not buy the house (I am sure there were reasons other than the $10 sign…I hope). The plaque now hangs in my laundry/craft room above the window.
When I thought about the perfect saying to use in my art it was a no brainer. Also fitting that it now hangs next to the cross-stitch of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse where we got married. This simple saying is a great motto. Displayed in the half bath we actually see it every time we walk in through the mudroom. It is a gentle reminder to live, laugh, and love everyday.
This project was really easy and turned out just as I had imagined. Here is a complete tutorial to make your own:
- Canvas (or you could use wood)
- Acrylic paint
- paint brushes
- Chacopaper Transfer Paper (or chalk)
- Pen or Pencil
- Painter’s tape
- Printer and paper
- Choose a phrase, motto, or quote. In a word editing program type out your saying and size appropriately for your canvas. Make the font color a light grey or use an outline (no need to waste ink). Print on multiple sheets of paper in grayscale. Tip: I used PhotoShop Elements first and created a canvas the same size as my real canvas. I typed out my phrase and sized it the way I wanted. This helped me determine I wanted my letters to be 5″ tall. Then I typed in Word in the same font size and printed.
- Trim the excess paper around your letters. I first trimmed mine within 1/4 inch of the letter on each side. Leave the bottom and top alone for now.
- Line up your letters and tape each word together. Since my letters were so large and printed one per page, each letter was in the exact same spot on each page. I used a line on my cutting mat as a guide to line up the bottom edges of my paper making sure each word was straight.
- Once all my words were taped together, I trimmed the excess off the top and bottom. I used a quilting ruler (love these for everything except quilting) to measure 1 inch to trim from the top and bottom.
- I wanted my words centered and aligned vertically. Fold each word in half. Do not match the edges of the paper but rather the edge of the first and last letter in the word. You want the fold to be the exact center of the word. Draw a line on the crease. Line up your words with the center line as a guide.
- Prep your canvas. I wanted a white background, but canvases are usually a little dirty and the gessoed white is pretty stark. I warmed mine up with a coat of creamy white acrylic paint. You can use other light background colors too. This step is important to make it easier to clean up mistakes later. If you do not paint your canvas, you will never be able to match the canvas for touchups.
- Use painters tape to attach paper to your canvas. Center the phrase vertically and horizontally. The quilting ruler was great for this too, but any ruler will do. I usually eyeball placement and then measure and tweak.
- Use a pen and chacopaper to transfer the letters. Chacopaper is awesome. I found mine at Michaels. It is kind of what the name says…chalk on paper. It can be used to transfer designs to wood, fabric, paper. The best part is the chalk is water dissolvable, so a quick wipe with water washes it away. (If you do not have chacopaper you can use dark color chalk and rub it on the back of the paper your phrase is printed on. The chalk should wipe away.) With the chacopaper slipped under your paper, use a pen to trace the outline of each letter. You need to press firmly. After my first 5 letters, I realized it would work better with a book under the canvas. It was easier to get the pressure needed to transfer the outline onto the canvas. You can see in this image how light the first letters on the bottom are.
- Now you are ready to paint. I used a tiny tip brush to outline each letter and then used a larger brush to fill in. Go letter by letter. If you are right-handed go left to right. Left-handed go right to left. You don’t want your painting hand to be touching your fresh paint. Don’t be afraid to turn your canvas around in any direction you need.
- Mistakes happen. This is my first coat and you can see I got a little sloppy. I actually dropped my brush on the canvas :( Try not to do that, but if you do don’t worry. Use your background color to make touchups. You can also use the background color to touch up the letters if you had a wavy line or slipped outside the lines.
- Paint a second coat on the letters. This will fill them in and even out the color. It is also another opportunity to perfect the letters and do touchups.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe over the entire piece to wash away the blue chacopaper lines.
- Hang in a wonderful spot and enjoy!
I hope you are inspired to live, laugh, and love…and to make your own word art!!!
LOVE the board tutorial, but I can’t get over how amazing your striped walls are! What beautiful colors. I really want to do something like this one day. Just add it to my list. :) I would love to have you join my link party, Show & Share!
I saw this feature on one pretty thing. I never heard of chacopaper. You did a great job explaining the process, yours came out great.
Thank you SO much for this! I’m about to start creating canvasses as a way of processing Post Natal Depression, and couldn’t work out how to get them to look professional (the last thing I needed at the moment is one more way to feel like a failure !!), so thank you for such clear directions, and for the reminder that I will make mistakes as I do it, and that’s ok!
Really – this is just a light in a dark place at the moment! Thank you!
Janna, I am so glad this tutorial helps. I love a project that is designed with mistakes in mind…I certainly made my share of touch ups on this one. If you plan to open a shop to sell your prints, please come back and let me know when you launch!
The shooz says
Thanks for the instructions! This looks totally doable…hopefully mine turns out well.
Can i just use Microsoft word for my quote?
Yes Samantha. Depending on how many sheets it takes to print out, you may need to tape the paper quote together before transferring to your canvas.
Ok thank you! I made a mistake and got tracing paper! Haha I will have to go back out
What font did you use??
You are a genius! I’ve been contemplating ways paint words on canvas (cutting them out/making a stencil, shining a light through the canvas etc…) but I tried your suggestion to use regular chalk (I don’t know what this fancy chalk paper is and I don’t think I could get it here anyway) and it appears to work perfectly! Thank you :)
Gabbi @ Retro Ranch Reno says
I love this sign! I did something sort of similar when I made a painted wood sign for our bedroom not too long ago. It took forever to do all the letters, but I’m glad I stuck to it. :)
Hi. This looks great. I have tried this with chacopaper but the paper left residue all over parts of the canvas that I didn’t want it to. Did you have this problem?
Kerry, A damp cloth should wipe up any excess chalk on the canvas. Hope that helps.
Just came across this tutorial, and it has been EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you, thank you. I have been free-handing all my lettering and desperately trying to figure out how to do it with more precision and be able to use fonts from my computer. Your tutorial finally cleared up all my pressing questions! Thanks so much!
I am so glad you found this helpful. For even more on this technique, check out the recent serving tray art I made using the same process.
dee dee says
What type of paper is the Blue paper you slipped under the Chacopaper????? TISSUE???
Dee dee, The chacopaper is the blue paper. It looks and kind of feels like tissue paper.