it’s an art thing…

Have you seen those fabulous ‘photo on canvas’ prints that you can buy or have made with your favorite picture? They’re gorgeous… and they’re also crazy expensive (at least to me!).

Never one to shy away from a bit of work to accomplish what I want, I was *thrilled* when I found a tutorial on how to do it yourself.  And after seeing how beautifully it turned out, I wanted to post & share with you.  This is so simple, anyone can do it… just takes some time & a bit of patience.


  • Canvas
  • Blown up Photo
  • Foam Paint Brush
  • Plastic Card, Brayer, etc.
  • Spray Bottle of Water
  • Gel Medium – Glossy

Gather the Supplies

I got my canvas from Sam Flax, a ‘value’ double-pack in 8×10.  Michael’s is another great option, and there’s usually coupons in the Sunday newspaper that you can use for the Gel Medium.  It doesn’t have to cost an arm & a leg!

And here we go:

1. Print a high-quality photo in the size of your canvas.  This can be any sort of photo, but be sure that it will still look good ‘distressed’ – that’s the effect that’s going to happen.  If you have a big (good) office printer, then you can print 11×14 or however large you can get it to print.  If you don’t have that access, you can get printers to do it (Office Depot, Staples, Kinko’s, etc.) but of course that will cost you.  You can print in B&W or Color, but it needs to be regular copy paper – not photo paper, or glossy paper, or anything like that.  I printed my image on a laser printer at super-high-quality settings.

Special Note: Choose an image that you don’t mind being reversed – or reverse it yourself before you print… what you print will be the opposite of your final product.

2. “Paint” the canvas with the Gel Medium.  You need to put this on with an even, generous coat – not too much, not too little.  It’s kind of subjective, but imagine you’re painting your nails.  Thick enough that the canvas doesn’t show through, but not so thick that it’s gloppy.

Applying the Gel Medium

3. Use the water bottle to lightly spritz the photo & place it picture-side down on the canvas.  I think I might have used a bit too much water on mine – I’ll test that theory when I do it again.

4. Use the card, brayer, ‘whatever’ to smooth the paper & push out any bubbles.  I didn’t have a problem with bubbles, but I did with wrinkles (as you can see)… that’s why I think I used too much water.

Smooth… Smooth… Smooth…

5. Let the image dry overnight, or for several hours.  I placed my image on Day 1 after work & then came back to it on Day 2 after work.  It was completely dry – I don’t know how less time will work.

6. Spray the paper until you can see the image through the wet paper.  This is super-simple & I didn’t take a picture.  I was too into what I was doing at the moment. 🙂

7. Pull off the paper *very* slowly.  Just use a delicate hand & you’ll be fine.  The focus here isn’t to get all the paper off (you won’t) but to NOT pull any of the image off.

8. Rub off as much paper as you can.  You’ll begin to see the image on the canvas, but it will be covered by streaks of paper.  Let it dry about an hour.

After many re-wettings & paper-rubbings…

9. Repeat… over & over.  Now, how many times you do this process depends *entirely* on how distressed you want your print to look and/or just how OCD you are.  Me?  Yeah, I was there a *while*.  I also noticed, the day after, that I obviously hadn’t let enough time lapse in-between rounds, because more paper showed up after it really dried than I had expected.  So take your time!  (I should have taken a picture at the various stages of ‘paper-rubbing’, but I was a little giddy…)

10. Paint the canvas with the Gel Medium.  You can use mod podge or anything like that if you want.  I had the Gel Medium right there, so I used it… I *loved* the ‘textured’ feel it gave to the print instead of all flat.  If you want to add colored chalk to any of the edging areas or anything like that, do it before you apply the gel coat – be creative!  Once it dries, you’re good to go.

Ready for the Final Coat

And that’s it!  Easy as pie… just a really long-cooking pie.  🙂  You can do pretty much whatever you want here – Try bigger canvases, ‘theme’ pictures in a variety of small canvases, names or initials… I know you’ve got ideas – let ’em fly.

The Final Product

So that’s it for today’s post, my lovelies… stay tuned for other posts this holiday season, some even easier than this! And if you have any questions, feel free to message me. 🙂

Oh, and in case you were wondering – the name of the image is: Aingeal


4 thoughts on “it’s an art thing…

    • Leah – that’s wonderful! I love getting inspired by other people’s posts, so glad I could be there for you. 😀 And thank you very much for the compliment on the photo … I shot it at Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta.
      Love & Light!

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