Archives for category: Wall art


If artwork mediums could be married, I would hook-up ink and colored pencils. I have found that, like a good marriage, the two partners must compliment each other and each realize their own weaknesses. Ink is great for outlining and coloring in areas that are not too big, unless you want the pen marks to be part of the composition. For the work above, I outlined the entire thing in ink and colored in key areas that I wanted to highlight. I also used ink for the strings. However, as you can see, pen marks show on the large areas that I colored in with marker. They would have looked better if I had used pencil.


For this piece, I printed out the words on my inkjet printer onto drawing paper first, then I used ink to outline the tree and give the trunk texture. I also colored in the prominent leaves with marker using a stencil I cut from a piece of card stock. I filled in the trunk and the top with colored pencil.


I decided I wanted the pen marks to show on this one. I drew the circles with a circle grid template, then carefully colored each one in using an arc pattern. I tried to  make the arcs go in the same direction. I drew the dots in the background with a pen. Then I colored the background with pencil.

Give the marriage a try. The two make a great pair.


I don’t like to waste things. That includes paint. Anytime I finish a project and have left over paint, I grab a blank piece of canvas or paper and use up all the extra on the paper. Most of the time I don’t have enough to paint the entire piece, so I let it dry and put it away until I have more left over paint. Eventually, I wind up with pieces like this:

Here is one I did on a piece of stretched canvas that had somehow acquired a stain. Once I piled several swathes of paint on the canvas, the stain was forgotten.



One of my favorite hobbies is doing watercolor collages. They are really pretty simple. The one above was done a couple months ago. I painted four separate sheets of watercolor paper with various colors in a sweeping motion. I outlined a few tree trunks in pencil on a large piece of watercolor paper and brushed lightly back and forth across them. After everything dried, I glued the four background sheets to a piece of craft paper, then I cut out the tree trunks and positioned them on the background sheets. Voila! That was all. In a frame behind glass, they look just 3D enough to be interesting. One of my favorite things about this method of art is that I can play around with background and foreground images without commitment. I don’t glue anything down until I am happy with the way it looks.


This watercolor presented a problem. I did this as part of a workshop to practice painting spheres and giving them directional highlights. However, I didn’t like the way the finished product looked. So. . . I cut out some of the spheres and painted a new background for them.


Better, huh?


I did this project to enter in an exhibit in Lexington. The theme of the exhibit is visual music. I painted all the elements of the piece separately. For the trees, I Mod Podged pages from an old hymnal onto watercolor paper and them painted over the music. See detail below:



For the one above, I outlined tree trunks again and painted them, then cut them out. I painted some scrap pieces of watercolor paper with different colors and cut them out as well. Then they had to be glued onto the pre-painted background. Simple, right?

Give it a try. You can do it 🙂

You know how you see things and think, I could have thought of that. . . but I didn’t. . . someone else did and now they are making a bunch of money.

Those objects, that look like letters that are used to spell people’s names are one of those things. I’ve actually even done that, except I did it only for my preschool students to use when I was teaching. It never occurred to me that people might actually pay money for small photos of things that looked like letters and use several of them to spell names.


Well, I decided to make some of these little babies myself. I am going to make mine more simple and therefore more doable for myself and everyone else who wants to do them too. I decided to use photos of actual letters from one of my favorite photo locales. . .the cemetery.

Here’s what I came up with.


I simply took pictures of letters from five different markers that spell my last name. Example:

2015-02-02 08.37       IMG_20150202_083704_200

Then I dumped them on the computer and cropped them in Photoshop. I printed them out four inches wide, cut them out the same length,  mounted them on black card stock and framed them.


If you want to see instructions to make the wreath in the photos, check out my gardening and craft blog. Here’s a link 🙂

As promised, I have been playing with some of my smartphone and Ipad apps to create wall art. For this post, I started with this photo:

I had this saved on my smartphone from back in the fall. I simply opened it in my Kaleidoscope app (free from Google Play) and shot several different angles after turning my phone in different directions. I ended up with these four pictures:




I then sent these four pictures to my Ipad and performed some rotating, cropping and sharpening to each one in Photoshop Express (free in the App Store). I applied a different special effect to each one of them to make them look different. Here are the results of that series of manipulations:





Each of these would be excellent wall art if not printed out too large. They are the products of smartphone photography and quality begins to suffer if blown up too large. They should work nicely if printed under 5″x5″.
I decided to do one last series of manipulations to these in another IPad app called A Beautiful Mess ($1.99 in the App Store). This app allows you to make collages, diptychs and triptychs from photos you have in your camera roll or take new ones. I made a simple collage from all four:


And a triptych from three:


All of these apps are fun to play with and that is what I really want when I look at wall art- a reminder of past fun 🙂


If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am craazzy about high dynamic range photography. So it is only fitting that I include HDR photos in my series about using photos as dramatic wall art. I am going to show a series of before and after photos that illustrate why I love HDR so much. Each of the before pictures were taken recently locally of scenes that are much prettier in the spring. Each of them is pretty bland. However, since you have the option of manipulating one, two or three photos in Photomatix, I opened the single image and let Photomatix do its magic.

See for yourself:





Wow, right!





Beautiful clouds!










Pretty good, huh? Now without any further manipulation, these images are wall worthy. If you are a photographer who likes to push the limits of creativity, you may want to check out Photomatix.

Next up, watercolor collage 🙂

In this and coming posts, I want to show how to make photos look like paintings using various software and apps. All of the photos in this post were done in Adobe Photoshop. However, I realize that not everyone owns Photoshop and, in coming posts, I plan to show how to use some cheap or free apps for Android and IOS that will do about the same thing.

To begin, I want to compare the same scene done two ways:

1. A photo after I applied the watercolor filter in Photoshop.


2. An actual watercolor painting of the same scene that I have for sale on Etsy.


My point? You can make wall art with some of the photos you already have or you can take photos with the intention of manipulating them in Photoshop to look like paintings. Some of the photos I have previewed on my camera that were slightly out of focus or otherwise blah, I have kept with that plan in mind.

Example: Beautiful Mandevilla flower, boring picture.

IMG_1402After I applied the cutout filter effect in Photoshop and cropped the image, I got this:

IMG_1402 cutout

Now its interesting and potential wall art.

Here is another uninteresting photo I took with my smartphone.

2015-01-05 13.16

It’s not bad, there is just no real subject. However, when I cropped it and applied the photocopy filter in Photoshop. . .


. . .a cute zebra appears to star in the composition. I can see this in a black and white nursery, perhaps.

I am going to work on exploring all the photo manipulation apps that I have (I have a lot of them). I install them then forget to go back and play with them. I promise to play. . .and report on my progress.

More later 🙂

I hear it all the time during classes I teach.

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

“I’m just not creative.”

“Please don’t make me do anything creative.”

I have a news flash. You are creative. Really. We all are. Just because you can’t make something look like someone else would or because you can’t render an exact replica of someone’s face with brush and canvas (which I can’t do), doesn’t mean you are not creative. This tutorial will hopefully get those of you who have creataphobia, as I have coined this disorder, more comfortable with self expression. You may end up with some wall art in the process.


Painting abstract art is a great way to relax after a stressful day. You might even like what you do so well that you want to frame it and put it on the wall. If you have paint brushes, paper and paint, you can do it. Yes, you can. . .really.


I like to use tube acrylic paint (not craft paint in the bottle), which is available at most stores in the craft section. You don’t need an expensive set of brushes, but I would recommend a pad of paper made for acrylics. Acrylics dry pretty fast to a shiny plastic finish, but they clean up with water. Start by choosing several colors. I usually stick with three or four complimentary colors (like blues and greens above) and two accent colors (the yellow and magenta).

From there you simply start making brush strokes, blobs, dots, lines, etc. Whatever you feel inspired to make.



I like to space my complimentary colors out evenly over the surface of the paper then fill in with the accent colors.


For this piece, I simply made long brush strokes. I had planned to go back and add some black lines, but I liked it like this and left it.


Here are the finished products of this day’s work.


These were from a different day when I was using acrylics that had fine glitter added. These paints were actually in the kid’s craft section. They were called glitter gels. I bought them for my daughter and she never used them.


If you have some paint left over, try this. When I taught preschool, we made these several times a year. They are a great way to use up leftover paint and get a surprise in the process. Fold your paper in half (you can use card stock or construction paper for this as long as its thick). On half of the paper, dab your remaining paint randomly.


Fold the paper at the fold you made earlier. Carefully rub the paper in different directions. Make sure you do this on newspaper, because it sometimes oozes out.


Unfold the paper. Voila! A beautiful abstract that took you about three minutes. My students always liked to come up with things the paintings looked like (kind of like ink blots at the psychiatrist). The most popular answer was a butterfly, probably because when you open the paper, it pulls apart and leaves “veins” like butterfly wings.


The great thing about tube acrylics is they dry three-dimensionally as long as you leave them flat.

Now, was that art lesson all that bad? Aren’t you ready to get some paint on your hands? Art is not supposed to be stressful. It’s supposed to be fun. Make it that way 🙂


Give this functional wall art a try.

Find an old map. I have a whole bunch, but if you don’t, a good place to look is at a library book sale. National Geographic use to put a wall-sized map in almost every edition and library sell outdated atlases frequently. Get a cork bulletin board, some Mod Podge, and, if you want a place to write in chalk, some chalkboard Contact paper.


Figure out what part of the map you want to show on your bulletin board and cut the map to fit, leaving about an inch overlap.


Apply a generous coat of Mod Podge to the corkboard and position your map on top. Smooth it out and apply another coat of Mod Podge on top of the map. You will have to smooth the map as you go and even then, it will likely pucker slightly. Once the Mod Podge is completely dry, you should trim the excess edges with a razor blade.


While you are waiting for the Mod Podge to dry, cut out your chalkboard shape. I chose to make mine in the shape of a letter H, since that is our household initial. You can cut whatever shape your want. Trace your pattern on the back of the contact paper and cut it out.


Apply a second coat of Mod Podge and peel the backing off the chalkboard Contact paper. Go ahead and stick the Contact paper while the Mod Podge is still wet. Once everything is dry, it is ready to hang.


Maps make great wall art by themselves, but this art has the added advantage of being a bulletin board as well. You can chose to cover it with memorabilia . . . or not.

Here are a few other ideas for using maps in your home:

*Line drawers with them.

*Cover old books.

*Cover them with clear Contact paper and use them for place mats.

*Make 3D letters like here.


If you are looking for a good way to revamp some old artwork, chalkboard paint is the answer. I have had four square canvas blocks sitting around for about a year, the result of a failed experiment in image transfer. I considered painting them with a large scene spread out over four panels with acrylic paint, but I actually had need for a chalkboard and decided they would meet my needs nicely.


First I painted each of the canvases with two coats of dark blue chalkboard paint and let them dry overnight. I painted the left bottom corner of each one with off-white interior latex paint using a dry brush method that only partially covers.


I didn’t measure the swathes of paint. I just tried to make them look similar. I didn’t want them to be perfect.


For the decoration, I used terra-cotta paint pens and just painted simple circles with lines. For the last step, I rubbed chalk all over the chalkboard surface and then erased it to season it.

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