Nov 11, 2011

Cheapskate cardboard canvas wall display

I know I only just mentioned a couple of posts ago that we still have our leaf rubbing mural from 2009 up in the kitchen, and really this is the right season to have it there too I suppose, but for some reason the urge struck yesterday to change things up a little. Maybe it's because it's getting darker and gloomier out and we are craving a bit of extra vibrance around the house, who knows. It had been a good few weeks since we'd got out the pots of sloppy paint too, and that was a travesty that needed to be put right.

I've got a few of these corrugated sheets of cardboard from inbetween the pallettes of toilet roll at Costco. Actually, I've always got at least a few of these handy, but shhhhhh. We needed something big to fill the white wall space above our kitchen table, so rather than getting the girls to collaborate on one big piece, I thought we'd try a lot of smaller "canvases" that could be put together to make a larger one.

I've always loved seeing posts that other people do where they use proper artists canvases and let their kids paint them and give them to grandparents as gifts or put them up in their own homes, but several factors have meant that we've not gone that route ourselves. Firstly, those lovely stretched canvases are kind of expensive, even if you get them on offer, and especially the larger ones! Secondly, we rent and so putting lots of holes in the walls to hang big things is not really going to happen. Thirdly, and I think this is really the biggest reason, but maybe it's all in my head, is that it seems like a lot of pressure to put on someone. Giving them a canvas. A proper big blank artist's canvas, and saying "go for it. Paint whatever you like". I would have been frozen as a child, torn as to what I should paint, worried that I only had the one canvas and didn't want to waste my chance or mess up what I decided to paint. I think I'd be somewhat like that now as an adult too if you gave me a nice big proper canvas and said I could use it to paint something big for our home.

In an effort to get the effect of having canvases hanging rather than the paper taped to the wall that we've been doing up until now, but not have the kids feel any pressure or have to spend any money, I decided to chop up some of that corrugated cardboard and cover it with butcher block paper for them to paint.

Because we had seven canvases that were all going to be displayed together, I asked the kids if they could explore with colours and shapes, rather than painting people or objects. They were really open to the idea of just playing with the paint, rather than trying to make a representation of something. Honestly, I was expecting a bit more of a push back against the idea of going abstract on this project because both girls are heavily into drawing comic books at the moment, but they always surprise me with the varied directions their enthusiasm allows us to go.

We had a couple of hours in the back yard before the sun packed up for the day and happily, the bairn was very contented to sit and watch her sisters paint, which meant I got a few photos.

Paint, shoot a bow and arrow, go back to painting, it's the creative process right?

Today I put the paintings together to go on the wall by taping two lengths of string to the back of each column of canvasses and tying the strings together at the top. I hung each of the three columns on a single thumb tack, which meant we have this large display with just three teensy thumb tack holes high up on the wall. The cardboard and paper was light enough that we could have hung more from a single thumb tack if we'd wanted to. If our home had stairs then I'd really want to use this method to have artwork all up the stairs.

I have a feeling I'll be making a lot more of these "canvases" in the future, because the children got a kick out of being presented with the various sizes and dimensions to work on, and they could really be free and uninhibited with their painting, because they could see that we could make more easily and very quickly so they could just keep going with it until they felt done. The hallway is likely to get a similar treatment soon I think.

The bright colours in our kitchen came at just the right time, because today was so rotten and rainy and dark that we had to have the lights on in the house ALL DAY! Blergh. I've talked about some of the abstract paintings that the kids have done in the past:

One post about easle painting here
and another one here.

My oldest daughter was especially prolific with these, and I think I was missing the ones we used to have up in the kitchen. They are very proud of how it all looks hanging up like this.

24 comments:

zarina said...

Thank you for sharing. What I usually do is I take a photo of their drawings and store it in my hard drive. So every time they paint something, they want me to keep in the computer.

By the way, can I use normal cardboard (boxes)? We have lots of those.

Caz said...

I just love this, they look amazing! We have an empty wall in our loungeroom and you've inspired me, those bright colours are so happy.

Karli said...

Oh wow, these are beautiful! Your girls are so creative! I hope my kids can enjoy this stuff when I have them some day...:)

Kathi said...

The girls did a great job! I love the colors they used and how creative they were. They really look fantastic hanging on the wall!

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Lovely - and your baby is adorable!

Jen said...

Oh how wonderful! They are quite the artists. I've been wanting to put a gallery in my hallway. I framed the paintings, but haven't put them up- procrastinator for sure. I love the "canvas" look. Always love reading and seeing all of your ideas with your children.

Jen
Creative and Curious Kids!

fluke said...

i don't have any kids, but i do have a niece and nephew! this is a great idea!!!

Fiona said...

This is a great idea. I will hav to try it with my girls, but I also wanted to say we do use 'real' canvases sometimes. I pick them up on special, and we have had our air share of disasters where the finished product just didn't work.

All I do is paint over the old painting with white acrylic, and then reuse the canvas until we get something worth keeping.

The canvas hanging in our hallway has at least 3 other paintings underneath!

Juise said...

Oooh, I have just been trying to figure out how to fill some of our wall space, we will so totally be doing this. The girls are really into watercolours lately, I wonder how well I can wrap watercolour paper...

P.S. The wee one is way too adorable.

Wayne said...

This is so damned cool..so simple but great looking. I have plenty of boxes, paper and empty walls and now a great project in mind!
Actually even buying some light canvas material and setting it on cardboard like this would work too.

pink and green mama MaryLea said...

Lovely art projects and it's official -- you do make the cutest babies on the planet! : )

-MaryLea

dragonmamma said...

It looks fantastic. Lucky baby, soaking up all that creative energy.

rainbowmummy said...

Oh, I love them. Such a fab idea! I especially love the paint flick one, looks so fun!

ps Can you make me a bow and arrow please?!

Heather C said...

I am SO glad you said what you did about "real" canvases putting too much pressure on the child or adult artist. I feel and would have felt the same way. I almost bought some canvases recently but could not bring myself to do it. And yours turned out so nicely! We have so much cardboard I can see myself exploring this soon. I love the word, bairn, btw. The only other place I remember hearing it is in the girl scout story at the end of our guidebook that we acted out and was the only speaking part (and mine!). "I told you, bairns are a blessing." Makes me smile to remember.

Nadene said...

Fabulous and so simple! I love your practical and creative solution!

Anna @ The Imagination Tree said...

`these are gorgeous!! really love the simplicity and the vibrant effect.
It's a shame you don't live in the UK anymore as the £1 shop "Poundland" now sells large stretched canvases! A-mazing x

jackie said...

This is so brilliant! I can totally do this! Thanks for the inspiration!

nunu said...

brilliant and gorgeous! your little baby is sooo cute too - they all are.. :)

The Fantastic Frogs said...

Wow! This is awesome- I teach preschool and this is definitely something I want to try with them. Thanks for sharing!

Gloria

Thefantasticfrogs.blogspot.com

Mel M. M. McCarthy said...

Wonderful art! Love the way you hung it too.

The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

You are so amazing! I am always stuck as to how to display so much art...and am with you in thinking that real canvasses create pressure and purchasing frames is too costly. My three kids are home today because the buses were cancelled due to freezing rain. Now I have a project to keep us all busy!! Thanks so much.

Fabi said...

This is an awesome idea. Can't wait to have my 2 boys to do it. Thanks for sharing..

Olives and Pickles said...

Very cool, Thanks for sharing.
Patty

Kelly at Home said...

These are gorg!! My daughters (3 and 5) are in an art show (a homeschool, openended affair...best kind! :o) on Friday and I have the same feeling that you described about a proper canvas - this is a great way to give them the benefit of a great work surface with the ability to do it over and over and over. Thanks!!