A few months back I went to a local thrift store and found this gigantic framed canvas for 5.95. Yes, 5.95! I know. It’s insane. I snatched it right up and hauled that baby home and look what happened! Art. Big, fabulous, kid made art that lead to dancing, leaps of joy and some hardcore focus and engagement. Now, that’s my kind of process art.
*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
We’ve been on a hardcore pastel bender for pretty much the entire school year. Oil pastels and soft chalk pastels. My girls love them and have become really adept at using them. Even my youngest, 2 and a half, knows how to turn the soft pastels on their side, rub them back and forth, blend and blow off extra chalk dust. You can read a full tutorial about using pastels with kids here. I love love love em and so do the kids.
Anyway, back to our amazing thrift store purchase. I put out soft and oil pastels and let my girls go for it. We had another flea market art purchase hanging in my daughter’s room that needed a little pick me up, so both girls had their own canvas. If you’re a mother of two, you know the benefits of each having their own work area. Majorly helpful.
Soon they both gave each other permission to share canvases. Actually, my older one is allowed to touch my younger one’s canvas, but not visa versa. Sisters. Gotta love it.
They’ve now been working on their canvases for several months. I kept them in our back yard for a while and brought them out every few weeks or so. Sometimes they both request to work on them. “Mama, where’s my canvas? I want to do some art.”
Just fyi, this canvas started off that light blue and white. We didn’t paint over it but you could easily paint over any canvas and give it a completely fresh start. You could use white gesso or even spray paint it. We got lucky with this one and it was already pretty and ready to go. After you apply the gesso or spray paint, you can just go ahead and apply any acrylic or tempera paints.
I have to say, it’s pretty thrilling to watch them create on a grand scale like this. They have so much freedom. We may end up adding paints or sharpies or maybe even glitter, which I’m sure they will eventually beg for. I’d love to see them add some metallic watercolors. Gold makes everything so super pretty.
I forgot, we also use straight up sidewalk chalk. The big fat ones. I think chalk is one of the most underrated art supplies. It’s cheap, colorful and you can dip it in water for such a cool effect. It’s awesome on nature too, especially big branches. Give it a try! Post coming soon on that one.
I was going to wait to post this until both canvases were finished but the truth is I don’t know that we’ll ever finish them and it’s more about the process than the result anyway. Plus, there are so many cheap canvases out there waiting for a new home. I wanted to get you this idea quick. Hope you’re feeling inspired. Happy creating and don’t forget to hashtag #letthempaint on Instagram and share your process art with tons of likeminded moms. xo Meri
GREAT IDEA – such a great space to work on! Fertile imaginations can explore everything from colors to shapes! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Chris! So glad it’s helpful. It was sort of an aha moment for us. Especially since canvases can be so expensive. Have fun!
Did you paint over the original art after you brought it home from the thrift store? And if so, with what kind of paint?
Good question Debbie. I forgot to mention that part so I just went in and updated the post. We didn’t paint ours first because it was pretty plain with just that blue and white paint on it, but you could easily do it with white gesso or spray paint. I put a link to the gesso in the post. Hope that helps! And then just go ahead and paint with acrylic paints or tempera. Some will adhere better than others so you may have to do some experimenting. Thanks for reading along!
What a wonderful idea!
Ha! I love this- we have repurposed old canvases before as well for big personalized paintings in their bedrooms. But chalk? I love it! And I love her stocking cap! lol
Chalk is the best. Especially when it’s wet! Head gear optional : )
Oh wow, I’m head over heels in love with this. I so want to buy such a huge canvas NOW, and let my daughter start to create such a masterpiece… Thanks for sharing this!
I really love all of your work, which is incredibly inspiring to me!
Thank you so much! That really makes me feel good and I’m so glad you are inspired. Send a pic or hashtag #lethtempaint on instagram. Would love to see!
I LOVE this idea. I think I will line up at the thrift store tomorrow morning to get all the canvas I can!
Awesome, Meri! I need to go buy some big, giant, massive ugly art now! And some tights, right?
Probably buy the tights first, to give you extra mojo.
such a crazy good idea!! but…you bought the best art b/c the floating frame is so cool. i feel like here in CT the frames would be all gold and massive. but maybe that would be cool too? i LOVE this idea, Meri. really awesome. and Gigi’s accessories are quite impressive. i think she might be a stylist one day 🙂 xoxo
You’re the third person today to tell me Gigi is going to be in fashion when she grows up. You should have seen the get up she picked out today. Oy a yoy. And thanks Bar!
This is crazy-awesome. I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve visited your site. Can’t wait to try out your great ideas with my kiddos as they get older — this one I’m going to try with my 2-1/2 year and my 14-month-old, because it looks like the perfect mess for a backyard art project. 🙂 Gotta get to a thrift store pronto! Thanks for so much inspiration. Devouring your site now.
Thanks Sarah and welcome! So glad you found me and psyched for you and your little ones. My girls are 16 months apart. Hang in there. It get’s easier!
Thanks for the warm welcome! We’re having baby #3 in a few days, but I’m pretty sure it will get easier after we adjust to that! 😉 Your site is full of amazing ideas and I can’t wait to try everything!!! You rock! Had so much fun this afternoon checking stuff out.
Oh my gosh. Go you! All the best and so glad you found me. Best of luck!!!
Oh I love this!
I keep looking for an old painting we can play with… I need to look harder!
And just as an aside… have you ever posted a hour tour? I love the little snippets we see of your gorgeous house and your art and I’d love to see more!
Kate, your comment has me almost in tears. Thank you so much. I’ve been wanting to do a house tour for a long long time and just haven’t pulled it together. I think you might have given me the push I needed. Thank you so much. Friday I have the day off. Maybe…: )
“wheres my canvas I want to do some art” aaaw so cute!
The giant canvas is a great find and is being put to excellent use!
Thank you! Kids say the best things : )
Thanks so much for reading along! Glad you like the idea!
As an author/ illustrator myself I am always looking for new ways to inspire my kids to get out and create for themselves- this is such an awesome idea!!!
Awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to write me. Really appreciate it, especially coming from a fellow artist. Enjoy!
How very cute, and wiw awesome idea
Thank you Elaine!
This is fantastic! Arts will be one of our collaborative projects for the new year. we will be doing this 🙂
Terrfiic! So glad to hear it!
I work for Habitat for Humanity and this project is made for our ReStores (thrift stores that sell used goods including paintings, prints, etc). Check out the link to find a location near you: http://www.habitat.org/restores
Cool! I’ll check it out. Thanks!
I am super excited that I found this. I will be on a look out for huge art at consinment shops. My daughter would love to do this and we need a new piece above our fireplace. I also love that you have a R.C. Gorman. I have several as well. Love his work.