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Posted on Jul 8, 2019 | 19 comments

DIY HAND-PAINTED CANVAS BACKDROP/BACKGROUND

I have been thinking about doing this project for quite a while. I have been searching, reading and watching YouTube videos on how to do it. My biggest question was, how would a professional do it? What technique do they use? What materials do they use?

I have never owned a hand-painted canvas of any kind, so it was hard for me to even imagine what a canvas backdrop would feel like.

The most useful information I found was here:

http://vukelichphoto.com/blog/2015/11/30/how-to-make-an-oliphant-style-canvas-backdrop

(And I would like to thank Philip Vukelich for such detailed information about his technique.)

Even though I could follow his directions 100%, I still decided to add some other things that might help a canvas backdrop have a longer life. This was one of my main concerns.

A regular canvas must be mounted on a wood frame before it’s painted on. And it will probably never get rolled afterwards, so there is less chance of the paint cracking.

So, what can I use on my huge canvas to prevent the paint from cracking with time?

I found out that some people use acrylic paint for painting fabric sofas or couches, but to make that fabric usable and naturally soft, they HAVE to use a Fabric Medium.

*** Fabric/Textile Medium is white, so it will thin your paint and will also change your color to a lighter shade ***

My canvas wasn’t primed and instead of using dilated gesso, as it was done by Mr. Vukelich, I used Mod Podge Sealer to prevent the paint from leaking through to the other side of the canvas.

Why? Well, I think gesso will give your backdrop more texture and will add more weight to your backdrop. Also, I wanted the other side of my backdrop to simply be white, so I used Mod Podge to seal the canvas.

Also, if you seal the canvas, then you will use less paint and it will be a much smoother painting process.

I couldn’t find Mod Podge Flat/Matte Finish in the large bottle, so I thought if it were gloss, it wouldn’t make any difference since I would be covering it with flat white paint anyway.

Oh, yea, the BIGGEST challenge was to stretch this huge piece of canvas and remove all wrinkles

MISTAKE #1: My canvas is heavy-duty so ironing it didn’t help. I tried to sprinkle it with water and iron it and the canvas started to shrink!!! OMG!!! I guess because it is cotton!

I remembered watching a video where a guy was using a sponge and warm water to remove the wrinkles before priming the canvas. The canvas was already mounted on a frame. So, I decided to stretch the canvas first.

I have a hardwood floor stage that is about 10 ft x 10 ft and it’s mounted on plywood because I still have carpet underneath it.

MISTAKE #2: I decided to tape the canvas to my hardwood floor. I might have chosen the wrong tape, but I was afraid to leave any glue residue on my floor. It worked just fine in the beginning but once I applied warm water on the canvas, my tape loosened up and even pins didn’t help. Double and triple tapes layers didn’t help either.

I wish I could build up a wooden frame but there were too many extra things to buy and no way to bring it home unless I rented a trailer. And I would have needed more time to build it as well.

I found my way out by nailing the canvas to the plywood base that is underneath my hardwood floor.

The canvas was a rectangular shape, so on the 2 opposite shorter sides, I used cotton fabric strips and pins to stretch the canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Materials for painting:

  • Artist Canvas – #12 Unprimed Cotton Duck/Canvas Blanket (I bought 96” x 6 yards)
  • Plastic Sheeting to protect the floor
  • Mod Podge Sealer and Finish – Gloss – 1 Gallon Jug – I used about ¼ of the jug
  • 2 quarts – Valspar Signature, Latex White Paint Flat. For good even coverage*.
  • 32 oz Ceramcoat Textile Medium (also called Fabric Medium).

You will Mix 1-part Fabric Medium to 2-parts Paint

  • 1 cup of water to dilute the 2 quarts of paint
  • 1 cup of water to dilute the Mod Podge
  • Mixing Bucket**
  • Paint Roller with Pole ***

My canvas was 96” x 6 yards. I cut it in half – 2.66 yards x 3 yards/each.

*I think if you want to make you backdrop multi-color, 1 quart of base color would be enough, but I would buy 2 quarts or 1 gallon so you have extra if you need it.

**I used a glass jar to mix my paint. I wasn’t sure how much l needed, so I mixed the paint in batches as I went along using the same 2:1 ratio of Paint to Fabric Medium, plus a little bit of water).

***If you don’t want a textured background, this should be the only thing you need.

Directions:

Working time: 3 Hours

Waiting Time: 4 hours

  • Lay the Plastic Sheet under the Canvas
  • Stretch and secure your Canvas
  • Use a big sponge or fabric to apply warm water to the canvas surface (as hot as your hands can take it) Let it dry for 1-1.5 hours.
  • Ensure all wrinkles are gone before applying Mod Podge Sealer.
  • Mix 1 cup water with 4 cups Mod Podge Sealer and ¼ cup Textile Medium
  • Use a Painting tray and roller to apply the Mod Podge Mixture
  • Let it dry for 40 minutes to 1 hour
  • Color Paint: I mixed 16 oz of paint + 8 oz of Textile Medium + ¼ cup water (I mixed 4 batches total)
  • After the first layer, I let it dry for about 30 min before adding additional coats.


1 Hand Painted White Canvas cost me roughly $100.00 in materials.

½ Canvas – $27.50. It was on a discount for $55 for the piece (free shipping).

2 quarts of paint – $17/each -$34 at Lowes – https://www.lowes.com/pd/Valspar-Signature-Satin-Latex-Paint-Actual-Net-Contents-31-fl-oz/999989920

32 Oz Fabric Medium  – 8 oz for $5.99/each at Hobby Lobby. So, $24 for all. It was the best price I could find) – https://www.hobbylobby.com/Wearable-Art/Paints-Dyes-Adhesives/Adhesives-Tools/Ceramcoat-Textile-Medium/p/20661

Mod Podge – I used about 4 cups – $6.25 from eBay (1 gallon for $25.49)

I had the other items already: pins, cotton fabric (old sheet), nails and hammer, vinyl brush, paint roller, painter pole, and plastic sheeting. I am sure most of the people might have those things in their household already.

More pictures are coming.

If you have any questions, please ask.

 

VERA MAGEE PHOTOGRAPHY

SPRING HILL, TN

615.656.8590

19 Comments

  1. 7-9-2019

    hi

  2. 7-9-2019

    Good project ! Love it!

  3. 7-9-2019

    beautiful and very creative project

  4. 7-9-2019

    Very interesting article! Thank you for sharing !

  5. 7-9-2019

    You are very welcome!

  6. 7-9-2019

    Amazing DYI article! You inspired me to paint my own backdrop for sure!

  7. 7-9-2019

    Thank you

  8. 7-9-2019

    Thank you!

  9. 7-9-2019

    You should try it. It is fun. I have another half of the canvas that I will paint soon. I just need to decide what color.

  10. 7-9-2019

    OMG! you are so creative! Thx for sharing

  11. 7-9-2019

    I like how it turned out. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

  12. 7-9-2019

    Amazing work! Color is gorgeous! I made two background too)))

  13. 7-9-2019

    Love how creative you get with DIY projects!

  14. 7-9-2019

    You are very welcome!

  15. 7-9-2019

    Thank you!!!

  16. 7-9-2019

    Thank you for sharing this is awesome

  17. 7-10-2019

    Looks beautiful. Love it.

  18. 7-11-2019

    Great project! Thank you for sharing

  19. 7-23-2019

    you are welcome!

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