This inexpensive Do It Yourself project is a great idea for giving style to your party theme. Grab your most artistic friend, a couple of inexpensive supplies from the hardware store and make this great backdrop that is sure to elicit awe at your next party! This project took about 3 hours to complete with two people working on it. The mural in this post was created for a Winnie the Pooh forest themed birthday party.
- 12’x9′ painter’s canvas drop cloth
- 2 large plastic drop clothes – to protect the surface under the drop cloth
- Latex or Acrylic paint – This can be any sort of water soluble paint, including latex wall paint or acrylic craft paint. We used 5 colors: Black, Dark Green, Olive Green, Brown, Blue
- Paint brushes – 1/2″ brush, 2″ brush, 3″ brush. You can use inexpensive brushes for this. We used cheap chip brushes from Home Depot for the larger brushes
- Ball point pen
- Small bowls for colors
- Jar of water
Step 1 – Plan
Begin with a sketch of the design. This mural was used for a Winnie the Pooh children’s birthday party. We wanted to create a forest scene to serve as a backdrop. The plan was to do a garden-style food table and incorporate the style of the illustrations in the original story books. Using books as source for the style we created a sketch for the design of a clearing in the woods.
Step 2 – Design Transfer
Using a ball point pen we sketched the outline of the design onto the canvas drop cloth. We wanted the style to be soft in appearance so we only outlined branches and trunks to fill the foliage in with color
Step 3 – Outline
Using a 1/2″ paint brush we painted the black outlines. We wanted a loose, sketchy quality so we did not make the lines an even thickness. The outline can be any dark color, based on the look that you are trying to achieve. Allow the outline paint to dry (dries fast on the fabric, was about 30 minutes).
Step 4 – Color
Now you are ready for the fun part! Get bowls for each color and a jar of water. Put a tablespoon or so of paint in a small bowl. Double or triple amount of paint for the amount of water to add to the paint and mix around. You need to water the paint do in order to get it to spread on the canvas material that will absorb the moisture very quickly. If you want the colors dark and saturated add less water. If you want the effect to be light and watery add more water. Adjust the water or paint level until you get the desired consistency. You can test the color on paper to see how dark. We wanted ours very thin to give a light, watercolor effect, but this is a matter of taste.
Starting with the darkest colors first use the 3″ chip brush paint along the dark outlines. You can thin the paint on the fly by dipping in water as you go to fade to a lighter shade. We started with the dark brown for the tree trunks. We painted it darkest along the outer edges to give a contoured effect and thinned the paint more and more as we got to the center of the trunks.
Next we used the dark green and created the shape of the bushes and shrubs.
We followed with a brighter green and added highlights to the bushes, then thinned it quite a bit to do the fill on the meadow.
Finally, we did the blue sky. For this we took a bright turquoise blue paint and added a lot of water, probably 10 parts water to 1 part paint. The key with painting an effective sky is to do it LIGHTLY. Paint pooling splotches to create a natural effect.
Step 5 – Dry
DONE! Allow this to dry over night and hang! Our drop cloth had large grommets on it so we hung using nails in the existing holes. If your drop cloth does not have grommet consider wrapping the top edge of the canvas around a 1″x4″ and stapling the cloth to attach. This will give you something to mount or hang.