I started out painting right on the wall when my first son was born. I painted a beach scene in his nursery and loved it. Then we moved. I was heartbroken, but rallied and painted a cowboy mural onto his wall in the new house. Then we moved. It was a little harder to get over this time.
I decided there had to be a better way of decorating with murals. How can I take it with me if I move again? The answer is canvas.
You could paint the mural on prepared (read: gesso'd) muslin and actually wallpaper it to the wall, but that wasn't portable enough for me. What I needed were huge canvas paintings that could be moved or changed on a whim. A canvas mural.
Here are some of the murals I've painted for my kids and others in the last few years:
Here is what you will need to paint your own mural:
Inexpensive acrylic paints.
Any brand will do, but I am partial to Folk Art and Americana. These paints sell from $.99 to $1.99 a bottle. You can really go crazy with any colors.
You can find this at any art supply store, but they sell the same thing at Michael's Crafts and you can use your coupon. A whole roll of primed canvas could cost you as little as $30!
If you'd like your canvas to be attached to a frame, you can build a simple one like this out of 1x2's. Support the corners as shown to sturdy it up.
You can staple the canvas to the frame like this, wrapping it around the edges. It can be hung right on the wall with picture wire.
Some of my murals are attached to a frame, and some are just attached at the top to a board or a curtain rod and hang freely. You can't go wrong either way.
If you want a larger mural than the canvas allows, it's sewable. Just sew two pieces together and press the seam flat. To hang on a rod, just fold over the top and sew to create a space for the rod to slide through.
Now, this is the hard part...JUST PAINT! Touching the brush to the canvas/wall is the hardest part, but remember to keep a rag and a wet paper towel with you to fix your mistakes. This is water-based paint that will wipe up easily before it dries.
If you are nervous about painting all willy nilly, try drawing it with pencil first then filling in the sketch with paint.
If you are worried about sketching all willy nilly, take a picture you like to Kinko's and ask them to make a transparency. Then, go to your local library and sign out a projector for the night. You can trace the outline of the picture right onto the canvas. You could even mark a grid over your picture and then onto your canvas and fill in each square. Kind of like we all used to do in the Sunday Paper's learn to draw section...or was that just me?
I just finished these backdrops for my son's production of the Jungle Book by roughly sketching the main trees then adding foliage here and there. I attached some silk greenery, hung some toy monkeys, and added feet. See? You can make it 3 dimensional!
You can brush or spray a finish over it when you're done to preserve it. Make sure to choose the non-yellowing kind. I haven't ever needed to seal my murals (maybe out to laziness).
Just remember to have fun with it and your kids will love the result. They could even get in on the act to create a unique work of art for their own rooms!