Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photo Canvas

Since my daughter Molly was born, I've taken thousands of photos. It's a real challenge to come up with different ways to use them. Last year for Molly's 1st birthday, I created this poster with pictures from each month of her life, 0 to 12 months. It is so much fun to see how she changes from month to month! 

For her 2nd birthday, I was inspired by this idea that's been circulating on Pinterest, originally from Martha Stewart. I loved the idea of arranging photos into the shape of the number. And having them all black and white unifies the idea. 

This WAS a great inspiration image, but I needed to make several changes. First of all, I wanted a more permanent piece of artwork (these photos are just taped to the wall.) So I went with a large canvas. I also wanted sepia photos, and I wanted to incorporate mixed media - paint, stamps, Gesso, Mod Podge and Wood Stain. Working on this piece brought me back to my studio days at U of Michigan art school. My hands have been stained for days and the smell of gesso and paint really brought on the nostalgia!

First I gessoed the entire canvas. For those not familiar with gesso, it's a fabulous medium. Use it to thin out paint to make it more transparent or as a base coat. To get my background to have some texture and interest, I stamped "2" from PSA Vanilla Peel & Stick stamps using an acrylic block and pigment ink in different colors. 

Next I drew a large "2" in charcoal and added the photos. I painted, white washed, and then stained. When all was dry, I sealed the photos to the canvas with Glossy Mod Podge. 

The end result hangs proudly on my living room wall. 

Since it's been up, Molly's stopped to check it out. "Pictures of Molly!" she says. Or "Molly's eating soup!" Or "Molly's running!" I hope she'll appreciate it more and more over the years.   I know I will.   

This post was posted to a PAINT PARTY!   Domestically Speaking

And I was also so proud of it - I shared it on Made by you Monday at Skip to My Lou 

Lastly (but not least) this was linked to Under the Table & Dreaming.  



  1. Watch out, Mama, you've started something! She'll want one for every birthday from now on.

  2. This is really cool, wonderful way to use up all those photos. I was a huge shutterbug when my kiddos where little, I have so many boxes of photos, lol.

  3. Love your projects. Very pretty.

  4. Super adaptation!!! Hmmmm, my Minnesota Great-granddaughter turned 5 in June, Arizona Great-grandson turned 1 last week and Minnesota Great-granddaughter will be born in December. I've got hundreds of pictures to pick from. Maybe I'll try extremely light pink/blue backgrounds, black & white pix, with the BIRTHDAY DAY pictures in color or tinted pink/blue... THANK YOU.

  5. Oh, phooey....I forgot to ask what size canvas you used - never used one before...guessing at photo size, is there a canvas that is about 30"x 40"? Thank you... (:

  6. Such a cute idea!
    Hope you'll link up to my new link party!

    Mauvin' Monday Link Party


  7. Hi! I am trying to make this for my daughters 2nd. What size canvas did you use? We bought an 18x24 and its too small so we will be going to get another one...
    Thanks for the awesome idea!

  8. This is such an amazing idea. It looks awesome. I want to make one for my 2 year old niece. I have a few questions hopefully you can help with. What size canvas did you use? How many photos did you use? What size are the photo? Do you paint the canvas before you gessoed the canvas? How did you get the background to be a rusty pink?