Monday, September 9, 2013

The GIANT Messy Canvas: a Cooperative Family Art Project

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I've had it in mind all Summer that I wanted to do a large scale, very messy, super colorful art project with the kids.  Something where we could really let loose, get messy, and just get lost in creating together because wild, carefree art is my favorite kind of art experience.

We rearranged our living room this summer, which left a big blank square of undecorated wall in one corner, giving me the perfect excuse to set my plans into motion.

Resisting every impulse I have to crop out the mess and mayhem in this picture.
Keepin' it real for you, friends, keepin' it real.

As luck would have it (and by "luck" I mean obsessively reminding anyone using the computer at our house,"if you're going to search, use SwagBucks!") we had some Amazon gift cards to cash in, so I purchased a large pre-primed canvas.

On a whim, I took some painter's tape and we made an imperfect, jaunty "F" on our canvas.

Max was invited to create with us, but took a pass this time around and Amelia was taking an extra-long nap, so it was just Jillian, Lucy, and me.

The three of us took advantage of the September sunshine and gathered up our paints (we're partial to the Kid Made Modern paints from Todd Oldham for Target because we love the ones with shimmer) and turned our back patio picnic table into an impromptu art studio.  We grabbed some cardboard from the recycling bin to use as pallets and we were off!

(Note:  this is a super messy art project and if that kind of aftermath bothers you then you might want to do as I say, not as I did, and put a large sheet or some plastic down to catch the paint mess.  An old shower curtain would be great as a mess mat for this type of large scale art project. You've been warned.)

I think one of my favorite things about doing this project with my daughters was watching them relax and get into the creative process, watching them go from serious, careful paint application to finally just squirting and splattering and dancing the paint across the canvas. I think this was especially good for my eleven year old, who has a tendency toward perfectionism and can be really hard on herself when things don't turn out according to her expectations.

Sometimes imperfection can be a very healthy thing.

There was lots of giggling and smiling during our painting time and that will be a memory that sings to me every time I look at this piece of art.

The hardest part was letting this dry fully (it took about 2 days for ours to dry completely) before we peeled off the tape and hung our masterpiece on the wall.

I love it.

I think it is the perfect personal touch to this space.  A few more projects like this and a little more rearranging and tinkering, and I think we'll be well on our way to creating the kind of space in this room that truly reflects our family.

(I can always tackle the housework this week, but I'm very glad that last week I ignored the cleaning and created with my kids instead).

... ... ... ... ... 

Next up in this room?  Framing more family photos and filling up the new knitting secretary my husband made for me out of an old dresser and bookshelf (you can just see the top of it in this picture).


  1. So fantastic! I love everything about this!!!!

    1. Thanks, Megan! It was a really great day :-)

  2. Really love this! Wonder how to get a perfect "C" with masking tape??

  3. Fantastic! I have two giant canvases that I want to repurpose into this kind of project. Thanks for the inspiration. Imperfection is something I'm very good at!

  4. Oh my goodness , I love it. I think we'll try something similar for some big art at out house.

  5. This is awesome! I think my daughter would love trying this out.

  6. Choosing quality time over mundane household tasks is always a WIN! in my world. :)