How To Make A Simple Geometric Canvas Painting

What is it about painting that makes me feel all frenchified and beret-worthy? Anyway, I finally got around to painting one of the giant (and deeply discounted) 40 x 30″ canvases that we scored for $23 from Michael’s thanks to 50% off with an additional 25% off on top of that (more details about how that happened at the end of this post). Ever since discovering this inspirational poster design from here (thanks to my good friend Pinterest) I knew I wanted to adapt it a bit. You know, go wide instead of vertical and have some fun with a few $2 paint samples from Lowe’s (total spent on paint: $9 for three pots which I then mixed with white craft paint that I had on hand to create a ton of different tints of the same few hues).

First I used a yardstick to space out equal vertical lines (I just used the width of the yardstick itself to keep things even) which I drew with a pencil:

Then I used the corner of a little card that we got in the mail (from an oil-change place) to create those angled peaks to mimic the prism-like shapes from my inspiration.

Then I just filled each shape in with a variety of shades of blue and green (all derived from the three test pots of paint from Lowe’s and some white craft paint to make some of the shapes lighter). As for the specific paint colors, I used testers of Tropical Waters, Embellished Blue, and Thermal Spring by Behr. Here was what I was left with at first:

It was fun and kind of high-energy, but the contrast was a little too much for me. So my foray into painting reminded me why I love painting so much: you can always paint right over it. So I mixed up a much lighter shade of greeny-gray and went over all of the darker green parts for a much more subtle tone-on-tone effect. I ended up here:

I love the imperfect lines and painterly brush strokes and the varied shades of the same few tones. The only thing I don’t like is the location. It just doesn’t feel right in our bedroom since the walls are a similar shade (and we thought the tone on tone look of the art might layer in nicely but it’s feeling a bit too monotone-ish and blah for us). So we’re thinking we might hang it in the dining room once we have a nice big buffet or console to go under it near the front entryway. Or it might end up somewhere else entirely. Just not on a soft blue-green wall. I guess I just like tone on tone art that’s not also on a wall of that tone. Go figure.

I went into this project expecting it to take an evening or two and it actually took a while longer (maybe four or five two-hour sessions) but in the end I almost didn’t want it to end. It’s just fun to paint again. Maybe I’ll tackle something else soon. I hope so. Have you guys painted any canvases recently? It totally took me back to my high school and college days (I took every art class my high school offered and then went off to art school in NYC for college- where I somehow ended up with a BFA in Advertising Design). Although using the paint pots from Lowe’s definitely made me smile since I’m used to paying five million dollars for oil paint (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but it wasn’t always cheap for a broke college kid).

And speaking of art school, that’s where a drawing professor of mine dubbed me “the narrator of life.” Apparently I’d just sketch and jabber on about everything as it happened (ex: “oops, I dropped my charcoal” or “now for the foreground” or “yikes, it’s noon already”). I sound really annoying right? Thankfully most of it was under my breath. My teacher had to lean in and ask what I was saying, which prompted me to realize that I was actually saying things out loud (I was in the zone, I knew not what I did). That “narrator of life” nickname embarrassed me at the time, but now I find it hilarious that my actual profession is essentially to narrate my life. Who would’ve thought. Maybe I should hunt down that professor (on Facebook?) and tell him where I ended up. Just don’t tell him I used house paint instead of oil paint. Scandalous.


  1. says

    Thanks for sharing your unconventional-for-the-art-world method! I took quite a few art classes in college and one thing that always turned me off was all the rules… No pencil first, no outlining, no using pure white or black, big picture first, then details blah blah blah. I mean, just as long as the outcome is pretty, that’s all that matters, right? :)

  2. Robin says

    I think my mom is one of those “narrators” although she confines her narration to the movie theater, much to the dismay of everyone sitting around her. (Mom, hush! We don’t need you to tell us what’s happening on the screen.)

    I’m so impressed with that canvas! I think that some custom-painted curtains are in your future, my dear.

    • says

      I just heard that today. How insane is that?! Not that I know what it means either, but it does sound lofty. Little do they know I’m waaaay to un-fancy for it. Haha. Shh. Don’t tell.


    • Vanessa says

      Sherry, do you ever invite people to join Pinterest? Cause I’ve been sweating the “waiting list” for a while…


    • says

      Drop in on our Facebook page and just ask someone to email you an instant invite! People trade them super fast over there so there’s no wait!


  3. Kate says

    I favor the first one a bit more, with the bolder greeny-grays, but the final product still looks great!

    I’m cringing reading through the comments because I keep waiting for “Bob” to weigh in ;)

    • threadbndr says

      ???? Who is “Bob”? What did I miss? (When the comments get up into the high hundreds, I start skimming and obviously I missed something!)

      Side note – The weird thing is that I can remember when Sherry would squee when comments went over 100 and I remember that time when the comments broke with the volume. Good times.

    • says

      I still squee when we get over 100 comments. It’s amazing. As for Bob, he’s a fun little art critic of ours. Some people aren’t sure about him – he’s kind of strong willed at times. Haha. My guess is that he’ll comment (maybe not today though) and that he actually might like this. But he’s a wild card. Could totally hate it too!


    • Kait says

      I totally am too!
      @Sherry, that came out great! Congrats on finishing it! Not a single one of my canvases are finished. Not one…

    • Jacqueline says

      My first thought as I read this post was, “Wow! I love it!”

      The second? “Bob!”


    • Hanna says

      Poor Bob, he is the reason I’ve been reading through all the comments too. :D

  4. Ashley says

    I have a BFA in graphic design but took every painting class possible in college. Something about dragging a brush with paint across a blank white surface and all is right in the world. Walking down the paint brush and paint isle at Hobby Lobby is seriously my therapy! HA. Def ate my weight in Raman noodles in order to pay for art supplies in college… SHEESH!

    In other news… I kind of like the painting on that wall. Maybe it’s just the angle and looks good because I’m not seeing the whole room, but it’s kind of calming and spa like in a modern reminds-me-of-rain sort of way :)

    Also, did you guys watch Modern Family last night?!? “Hysterical wife, hysterical wife, hysterical wife…jackpot!(cups hands together)” haha

  5. ashley says

    Nice Sherry – er, Chéri? :) I like the location but I understand your aversion to tone on tone on tone on tone on tone. I took a watercolor class last summer but haven’t picked up the brush in awhile. Now I’m inspired to try something like your pinned art so I can play with color layering. Looks like pretty seaglass.

  6. melissa says

    I love love LOVE to paint … and the funny thing is I forget how much I love it until I’m in the middle of a project & it’s just … bliss.

    I’m currently working on a series for the baby room of one of my very best friends & it’s so very fun. All in neutrals (browns, beiges, etc), with little pops of baby blue & red-orange. There’s one main canvas with a whole scene of cute critters, and the supporting, smaller canvases are different patterns (there’s an argyle, a cable-knit, stripes, dots, paisley) … so fun & easily mix & match-able for her :)