Arts and Crafts at Home: Watercolor Cityscape Project, by Apryl

My 14 year old daughter came to me with this project that she saw on Pinterest.  She wanted to recreate it for her room, and get the chance to play with watercolor and canvas.  After brainstorming the best way to go about creating the painting, we gathered supplies.

Supplies needed:

Fredrix Archival Watercolor Canvas – this product is pretty cool.  The canvas has already been stretched and primed for watercolor, and it is ready to hang once completed.

Clear contact paper – really you can use any print/color but I find the clear the easiest to work with when drawing things out.

Watercolor paint in your desired colors – I recommend tube colors since you’ll be mixing quite a bit and you want a more opaque finished product.  My daughter picked colors that would co-ordinate with another piece of art she had in her room.

Letter stickers (optional) – We used repositionable vinyl letters, but I do not recommend them for this project as they did not adhere well.  It is best to test them with paper and paint before hand to see if they will adhere well enough to block paint, but still come off the canvas easily.

Assorted stiff paintbrushes and an old toothbrush – all the painting in this project is done by spraying or splattering, so don’t use your good brushes!

An empty spray bottle – we used a rinsed out hairspray bottle.

A palette – we used a Styrofoam plate with divided sections.

1.  Be sure to cover your work area with a drop cloth (or an old sheet like we did!)  This is a messy project.

2.  Measure your canvas width and cut a length of contact paper to fit.  It does not need to cover the entire height of the canvas, only the part that you wish to leave white.

3.  Find a silhouette of your desired city-scape.  You can either enlarge the silhouette to fit the canvas, or just sketch the shapes onto the contact paper.  We chose to sketch it directly onto the contact paper.  (Actually, our printer decided for us, since it decided not to work that day!)  You can sketch it out with a pencil, but I recommend going over it with a permanent marker so you do not rub off the pencil while cutting.

4.  Cut out the city-scape.  The contact paper should end up in the shape of the area you want left WHITE.

I did not take a photo before we started painting, but you can see the shape of our contact paper below.

Carefully remove the backing of the contact paper and adhere to your canvas.  Make sure your city is fairly level.  We found it easiest to peel back a small amount of the backing and start sticking it to the canvas.  Then we would peel back a bit more and adhere that section.  This prevents the whole thing from getting stuck together before you can get it onto the canvas.

5.  Adhere any letters you are adding to your project.  We used a ruler keep them straight.  We also started with the middle letters and worked our way out to keep them centered.  It is best to “dry fit” the letters before actually sticking them to the canvas.

*Make sure the contact paper and letters are pressed VERY firmly onto the canvas.

6.  Mix your paint colors with water.  You want a good concentration of colors, but you also want it thin enough to run.  It may take some trial and error to get it the consistency you like.  When the color is mixed, add it to your spray bottle.

In the photo below, you can see our paint is still pretty thin and watery.  We ended up adding more color.

7.  Making sure the canvas is propped up, begin spraying your paint onto it.  You want the paint to run, but do not heavily saturate the canvas.  It is best to work in layers and let the paint dry a bit in between.  We used a hair dryer to speed up the process.

8.  After you have built up a decent first layer, use the stiff brushes and toothbrush to splatter different colors of paint onto the canvas.

9.  Keep applying layers with the spray bottle and splattering with the brushes until you are happy with the overall look.

10.  Allow to dry before removing the contact paper and stickers.

11.  Once you remove the contact paper and stickers, you will most likely see where the has run under them a bit.  (Our letters ran under a LOT) If you are using the same kind of canvas we did, you can use a cotton swab and water to clean up the edges.  The paint will wash right off.  That said, you will want to make sure to keep your completed project dry!  If you used another surface besides this canvas, this step may not work.

12.  Hang and enjoy!


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