Years ago, I made this giant scripted canvas. It is still one of my very favorite DIY projects and it's still hanging in our house. The lyrics are from a Rise Against song that was our first dance at our wedding. The inspiration for this project is from this pin.
In that original post I shared a how-to of sorts but I clearly didn't do a great job because I still get emails with questions about this project often. Today I wanted to share a few more tips and figured I'd try to be a bit more specific this time.
I primed the canvas first. In the original, this meant I used a "wash" of white acrylic paint and water. The mix was about 50/50. I wanted the paint to just lightly cover the canvas so it looked a bit more broken in. It was drippy and a bit messy, but it worked well. For this second one I am sharing today, I painted over an old painting. Large canvases can be expensive so you might find it works better to paint over something you find second-hand or to paint over your own old work. When painting over I needed much more coverage and so I used white wall paint that I had in the garage. The type doesn't really matter - you just want a decent white base so the canvas doesn't scream, "hi! I'm brand new!"
I used acrylic paint and a round brush. You don't have to do this, but that's what worked for me. The black acrylic paint is from a big box craft store and the round brush came in an inexpensive pack. I used a round brush because (for me) this gives me the most universal letter shape. I'm not trying to get swoopy or fancy with my letters. That's a killer style and looks great, but I'm not good enough at it to make it work perfectly, so I just want my handwriting to look even. The size will vary depending on your canvas size. I would recommend getting a few brush options and then playing around on scratch paper to see what size you like your letters. For today's sample canvas I used a size 6 round brush. (When in doubt, go smaller than you think.)
I mix in a bit of water with my black paint. Just a bit. You don't need a lot. I think my ratio is about 80/20 but probably would have been better 90/10. I mix it with the paintbrush until I have a "runny-ish" consistency. I want the paint to go on smooth, but I don't want it to be like watercolor. This is sort of hard to describe so I just recommend starting with a tiny bit of water and then adding if you need it.
Practice on scratch paper. Try a few words to get comfortable with the brush and the paint mixture. Do you need a smaller brush? Less water? Fix your issues on the scratch paper, not the canvas.
Write out the whole saying on paper first. I didn't do this with either of my projects and botched it both times. The lyrics I had to adjust a bit and the quote today is completely wrong. The original is from J.B. Priestley and just beautiful: "I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning." Mine gets the gist (and I do like it), but is not right AND I ran out of room. This quote needed a larger canvas or a smaller brush to fit the space. If you can be flexible with what you are writing that will really help!
Write complete words without worrying about paint distribution. I think this is the most important tip. Your handwriting is going to look the most natural if you write out the words fully and then go back and "fill in" where the paint got lighter. I use the same size brush for the fill in, but you could use something smaller and it might get an even cleaner edge.
Embrace your handwriting. The best thing about your handwriting is it's yours. If you want to do this project, DO IT. And embrace it. Don't try on a new lettering style. Don't lament that you don't have great cursive, just write how you write and love it for that. It's special because it's yours.
I let the words break off the side of the canvas. I found that not only is this easy, it's the best way to get the canvas to look full and that is my favorite part of the inspiration image. I love how the text runs directly off the side and, of course, it takes some of the guess work out of letter spacing. You just write until there is no space and then start on the next line. Easy day.
I did not "finish" the canvas in any way. A few folks have asked if I painted over it to seal or added a gloss and I did not. It's only been a few years, but it still looks good. No issues yet.
And those are my tips! This is a fun statement piece and a relatively simple project once you get over the fear of your handwriting and decide what to say. Worth a try FOR SURE!