Last Minute DIY Gifts!

Last minute DIY Christmas gifts: painted canvases

I don't know about everyone else, but I tend to get my Christmas gifts together within a week or so of Christmas. And I don't necessarily mean buying them last minute. A lot of the time I want to DIY a gift and gather all the materials early on but don't get around to actually making the gift until the last few days possible. I guess it's better than being out there facing the retail crowds, right?

Either way, making gifts yourself can be a more rewarding experience for both you and the recipient of the gift. A favorite item I've made over the years is paintings on canvas. These paintings can be extravagant, simple, abstract, or somewhere in between. They don't have to be Van Gogh works of art, but if that's your thing, then by all means, go for it! All you really need to make this gift, at the bare minimum, is a steady hand for tracing and an idea of what you want to make.

How to make handmade painted canvas art

Wood-wrapped canvases: The type of canvas that is stretched and stapled around a wood frame, creating a nice shape and easy way to hang it. Available at stores like Michael's for pretty cheap, often on sale, and they come in all sizes, a 11" by 14"-ish size I've found is a good one to work with. There are also flat, sturdy ones available, but they are more difficult to hang up.

Paint brushes: A cheap assortment pack of different sizes should work, also available at Michael's.

Acrylic paint: This is a fairly cheap kind to get at around $2 a bottle and better quality than tempera paint that kids use for finger painting. You can also use oil paints or other more advanced types but make sure your canvas is specially formulated for oils, sometimes they won't take very well. Acrylic is a good no-fail option to start with. 

Extras: Letter stencils, blue painter's tape, other printouts of shapes, etc.. Lots of details like these you can get at any craft store or print yourself.

Ruler: For super straight lines! Yeah!

Pencil: To lightly draw your design before painting, make sure it has an eraser just in case!


Keep calm and Dance On painted canvas art
My sister took after my love of dance and is on the high school dance team. Last year I asked her what she wanted me to paint for her, and we decided to use the "keep calm and..." trend and alter it to fit her love of dance. The gold acrylic paint I used is especially shiny which makes it stand out even more!
Easy DIY painted bricks canvas art
These paintings were originally inspired by this post, I took the idea and ran with it, creating a nice varied but matching set. I got a lot of compliments on them when I hung them up in my apartment, people are always surprised I made them myself! :)

As Long As You Love Me, Justin Bieber and BSB lyrics painted canvas art
My youngest sister is in love with the Biebs. What middle school girl isn't? This is one of her favorite songs and was an easy phrase to fit onto a canvas. I added the horizontal stripes to help it read better and to integrate more color than a solid background would.

Abstract painted canvas art in blues and purples
This is a piece I made for my mom just by running blue painters tape across the canvas randomly and then painting the inside shapes different colors within a specific color scheme I knew she liked. Play around with tape to see what cool and abstract images you can come up with!

Bow Down University of Washington Huskies painted canvas art
My brother is on the drumline at University of Washington, and when they play at football games, the fight song is "Bow Dow to Washington," so I went with that title and used the school's purple and gold colors.

Helpful tips

Some things to think about when deciding what to do for a certain person: what is their "thing"? Do they like the mustaches-on-everything trend? Are they crazy about cats? A coffee, beer, or wine enthusiast? Pick a subject they really relate to and your gift is guaranteed to be a hit. Also think about their favorite musician or type of music - lyrics from their favorite songs, names of bands they love or have seen in concert. The same type of thing applies to movies and movie quotes - "I'll never let go, Jack!" ...anyone? I'm sure you know a Titanic fanatic somewhere. Haha!

The only thing I would steer clear of is Christmas or winter themed paintings, only for the fact that they won't be hung up all year long! Other than that, pick whatever type of subject you think your recipient would like best and go with it. If you are running out of ideas, find a picture on the internet of a basic shape or symbol (even a logo) and cut it out and trace it onto the canvas, then make it your own. The possibilities are endless!

So there you have it! Easy, cheap, and personal handmade gifts you can crank out this weekend and have ready for Christmas festivities next week (or upcoming birthdays)! I hope my examples give you some good starter ideas! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions.

Happy painting :)
kayla grace hedwall blog

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