Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DIY: Hand Painted Barn Board Canvas Wall Art

Hey all, I am so excited because this is my official first post on my new blog! And I have a fun project to share. You know that DIY canvas art is all the rage right now, and is rightfully so because it is so much fun and so rewarding to make your own artwork. 

While browsing Pinterest, I found a really cool DIY on A Beautiful Mess where she used a gel medium and instead of just gluing the paper onto the canvas, she gets the ink to be more absorbed and have more texture. Hers was with a personal photo, but I wanted to go a different route. I happen to absolutely love vintage barn board-related art and wanted to give that a try.


Here's what I made! Isn't it pretty?

The Process

 The materials needed:
  • Canvas; mine is a 5x7" because the entire sheet of paper would fit over it. Smaller is easier for starting out!
  • A gel medium; I played it safe and got the Liquitex like A Beautiful Mess used!
  • A brush
  • Ruler + pencil
  • Goo Gone (in case you get any glue anywhere and need to clean it up)
  • An inkjet printed piece of wood, big enough to cover your canvas (which is why smaller is better for this!) Inkjet printed means printed on a home deskjet computer, not from a copy machine or a professional printer
  • White acrylic paint + paint brush (not pictured)

Before I started, I used Adobe Photoshop to kind of plan out my design so I could pick fonts to imitate when I paint later on. I am a design student so I'm accustomed to using Photoshop, but any photo editor you feel comfortable with will work. Mine is based off of some Mumford & Sons lyrics, and I left a lot of space blank for artistic freedom later on.

You can find your own photo of barn wood, but I love the one I found on Morguefile. This site is a designer's best friend! You can download the photo for free. Mine downloaded at print resolution, which is 300 dots per inch, so all I had to do was crop it for my artwork (again, I used Photoshop, you can use your own method).

Let's Get Making!

Alright, so you've gathered your supplies and maybe prepared a design. After that, get into your workspace and grab your canvas, gel medium, brush, and printed barn wood. If you have a canvas with deep edges like mine, you might want to use the ruler and pencil to mark the center of your printed wood so you know where to place the canvas once it's covered in gel medium. I previously measured the depth of the canvas so I could make the wood "wrap around" it.

You can lay down some newspaper if you feel as though you might be messy with the gel medium; I used a self healing mat that I just use for everything. I then used my brush to spread the gel in an even and thick layer over the front of the canvas, careful to not get anything too clumpy. After my gel was spread out, I laid the canvas face down onto the center of my printed wood (this was the easiest way to center it) and then turned it over to smooth out all of the bumps and wrinkles so the paper laid flat.

I then did the same process with each side of the canvas, carefully smoothing the paper into the glue.

I feel like I did a fairly good job of smoothing out the paper. After that was done, I set the canvas aside to dry overnight. I like to sleep with a fan on for the noise, so I set the canvas in front of that to ensure it would dry really well.

The next day, I used a gentle hand and water to wet down the paper on the canvas. Using my fingernails, I carefully peeled off the paper to leave the ink absorbed by the gel medium behind. It's going to be really tempting to just rub the wet paper with your fingers so it falls apart in little rolls, but it's not the best idea. You will also rub off a lot of your ink, as I found out on the sides of my canvas (I chose the distressed barn board so that if you do rub off some ink, it's not a huge deal). I recommend using your fingernail to gently rub it off, but it is time-consuming. Worth it though!

You're going to want to let the canvas dry properly. And then you're going to look at it in awe at how much paper is still left here, like I did my first time. It's no big deal, just wet down those specific spots and work them off with your fingernail again.

After the canvas was to my liking, I set out to paint it with my design! I used a thin layer of white acrylic paint so the barn wood would still be visible behind it because I love the overlay look. Don't mind my inability to replicate type while painting. I plan on possibly adding more to the canvas but I ran out of time before this post had to be done. 

To finish: Okay, so those little fuzzies don't like to go away very easily, do they?! I first thought about spraying with a clear sealer, but then realized that it wouldn't help the fuzzy situation. To get rid of those and seal the canvas, pull out your gel medium again. I used my fingers because I didn't mind getting sticky, but a foam brush might work as well. Just dip your fingers into the gel and spread that onto your canvas. As you spread, the little fuzzies will be either pulled off or smashed down and your surface will end up smooth. Try to work the gel medium into the canvas and it will help enrich the color of the wood. Be careful to not pull up the paper though, and watch your paint!

And here is the final product! I'm in love with it and can't wait to make more with the same style. I'll add to this post when I make others. So overall, an affordable project and most of the items you'll have laying around your home!


  1. Love this idea and I even have a couple blank canvases to use for it! :)

    1. It's a little time-consuming but entirely worth it! :)

  2. Omg I absolutely love this! I have a small obsession with old barn board as well :) I'll have to try this..

    1. It is seriously so neat, you can have the old barn board without the mess and the delicacy!