Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tree Canvases

When I repainted the living room/ dining room in my house, none of the art work I had up worked with the new color scheme.  I went from an orangish brown/ very masculine room to a pale lavender grey with a darker lavender accent wall.  So I decide to make some art for the walls. Warning, this will be a long post.
Here's a picture of the finished project.
I had seen this video on painting a tree blowing in the wind by Amy Pearce.  And I wanted to try it but I also wanted to mix in some mixed media.  So I started by laying out the 4 12 x 24 canvases on the folding banquet table I used to use as a craft table before I got my desk.  It was the only place I had to work on that was big enough for all the canvases at once.  I roughly sketched out where I wanted the tree to go.  Then I applied the first layer of stuff.
In the bottom corner of the first canvas (the left one), I attached some roses cut with my Silhouette.  Unless otherwise noted, all of the items cut with my Silhouette or die cut were cut from watercolor paper. I attached the stuff with Tombow Mono Aqua Liquid Glue.  I added a branch cut with my Silhouette and left over from another project and a flourish from the Tim Holtz Alterations Sizzix die Elegant Flourishes.  The more dimensional leaves are wood pieces, as is the dragonfly.  The butterflies were die cuts I received in a swap.  I also stenciled a rose from a Martha Stewart stencil with matte gel.

In the top corner of the first canvas, I attached some leaves and flourishes cut with Tim Holtz Alterations Sizzix dies Elegant Flourishes and Garden Greens, some cheese cloth, and more wood leaves.  I also stenciled the same Martha Stewart rose and a butterfly that I think is from a Martha Stewart metal stencil, but I’m not 100% sure. 
On the second canvas, I attached another of the swap butterflies and some thread.  I got the idea for the thread from Gabrielle Pollacco in this video.  I applied the thread with matte gel.

The third canvas got some thread and another butterfly from the same metal stencil.

The bottom corner of the last canvas got the Tim Holtz leaf die, more thread, cheese cloth and butterflies from a stencil by The Crafter's Workshop.
The top corner of the last canvas got more of the Silhouette roses, Time Holtz flourish, the wood leaves, a wood butterfly, another of the swap butterflies, and circles from a stencil by The Crafter's Workshop.
Once everything was dry, I did a base coat of white gesso.  Then I base painted the canvases using wall paint.  I had bought samples to test out the paint for the room.  So I used the sample of the pale lavender grey for the base coat on the canvases.  Then I set to work painting the tree.  And here is where the happy accident of using a satin wall paint comes in.  The variations in the color of the trunk is because the paint did not adhere evenly to the base paint, which I think worked out great.  Another added bonus, when I messed up on the placement of 2 of the branches, I could clean the paint off with a Wet Wipe. Then I added the flowers.  I used regular acrylic paint to paint the tree and flowers. After everything was finished, I actually went back and used more of the wall paint to paint over some of the trunk because it was too thick.  

I wanted to frame the tree with purple paint starting out very dark at the edges and getting lighter as I moved in.  And I was planning to use Fluid Acrylic Dioxazine Purple, which is a mostly translucent paint.  Given how the wall paint and acrylic paint interacted on the tree, I decided to put a base coat on first of the Dioxazine Purple paint mixed tinting base, which makes it opaque.  That’s what you will see in the next few pictures.  
Now for the next layer of stuff, which was a collection of die cut shapes, wood pieces, vellum flowers, and silk flowers.  I laid out everything before I started painting the pieces to get an idea for the layout and I took pictures.  Then I got to work on the various pieces.  Here's what they looked like before.
Now for the afters.
This flower was made up of 5 of one of the flowers from a Sizzix layered flower die set and a circle die cut. 
I sprayed all of the flowers with water first, crumple them and then folded and unfolded them.  Then I painted each flower on both sides with a metallic purple paint.  Then I used an embossing folder to emboss all of the flowers.  I went back and added either gold or metallic green paint to the raised portions of the embossing.  To assemble the flower, you fold the flowers in quarters, layer four on the circle and then put the fifth in the center.   It is based upon a felt flower I’ve made for other projects and here’s the felt flower tutorial, its the third method.  You may notice that the flower on the bottom of the first canvas layout photo looks bigger than the one on the finished canvas.  It is.  I made the bigger flower, attached it to the canvas and then didn’t like it.  So I ripped it off.   I did two different sizes of these flowers.

This flower is made with a My Favorite Things die. 

I made 2 different versions of this flower – one layering a smaller flower on the bigger and one layering two flowers of the same size.  Again I wet the paper and shaped it before painting. I also added a steampunk twist to 2 of the flowers.  I glued very small gear dies to the petals. I then painted one a dark metallic purple and one a lighter metallic purple and metallic green.  I added some gold paint to the gears.  And for the center, I used a gear painted with green metallic paint.  For the one with the two same sized flowers, I used micro beads for the center.

The vellum flowers are something that has been sitting in my stash for ages.  They came in a package of petals and leaves and brads, and several years ago, I went ahead and assembled all of them figuring I would be more likely to use them.  Not so much.  I unassembled them in order to paint the flowers because they weren’t the right color.  Some I colored with metallic paint and some with the Fluid Acrylic paint.  I left the leaves as is.

The wood gears and the die cut gears (Tim Holtz die for the large gears, My Favorite Things for the really small gears (?), and Memory Box for the small gears) got painted with metallic paint. And for a few, I added small pearls that got painted gold.

I also painted the silk flowers with metallic paint and added glitter to the centers (next time I’ll wait for the paint to dry completely). 

For the top corner on the last canvas, I added a piece die cut with Tim Hotlz Mixed Media die and painted with gold metallic paint. 
For the die cut leaves and flourishes, I painted them green, some with regular acrylic paint and some with fluid acrylic in Green Gold.  For some of the leaves, I embossed them with an embossing folder.  For others and the flourishes, I stenciled with Pearl Ex gold powder mixed into heavy gel medium.  And for some I added crackle gel.

Before attaching everything, I went back and added paint to highlight some of the stenciling and pieces added with the first layer. I also added crackle paste to some of the base pieces.  The large paper gear also has crackle paste. 

Then I pulled out a couple stencils I made using Tim Holtz Alterations Sizzix Trellis and Waves dies.  I added gold Pearl Ex powder to heavy gel medium and stenciled on the first canvas. I added apple Green Pearl Ex powder to glass bead medium and stenciled on the last canvas. 
For the flowers growing along the tree roots, I used hot glue to make the stalks.  I used a sanding block to rough them up before painting. The leaves are a Impression Obsession die.  I created the flowers by doing a cone shape with hot glue and added Prills.  I don’t remember what blog I saw them on but they are so cool. 

The little butterfly on one of the flowers is a Hero Arts stamp that I stamped with Versafine on tissue paper.  I used mod podge to attach it to the canvas and then painted it. I also went over it with a black Bic pen because I had to use the reverse side of the tissue paper to get the butterfly facing the right way so it was a bit washed out.   Then I used hot glue to add flower soft between the tree roots.

I added some dimensional butterflies to the second and third canvases.  They were cut with a Spellbinder die and painted with metallic paint.  I also added some glitter to the wood dragonfly.

Once I attached everything, I decided it needed more.  I added some additional silk flowers.  These were attached as is because they were the right color.  Also I colored the leaf with metallic green paint.

I also added a funky butterfly. 
I made one for another project (I will post that one soon) for the same room and I really like how it turned out.  So I made another one.  I die cut a butterfly with a Spellbinder die and then added the key as the body.  I made the key by first making a mold of a key (More about mold making in a future post).  After the mold set up, I put polymer clay in the mold.  After baking and cooling, I wrapped some twine around the key and added some pieces from the Tim Holtz Mixed Media die.  Then I added a coat of black gesso and then metallic paint.

Here are some close-ups of the piece.



And one more look at the whole thing.

 Thanks for stopping by and please come again.


  1. Ohmy goodness, Sarah! Thiese canvases are amazing. I{ so enjoyed reading how you made these stunning canvases. So many different ideas, all put together into three gorgeous pieces of art.

    I think my favourite bits are the gears on the flower edges and the butterfly with the key in the center,

  2. Wow! This is jut mind blowing! A stunning piece of artwork with so much beautiful detail. Fascinating to read how you made it Sarah! What a talking point too.


    Di xx

  3. Wow, that's a large canvas. Thank you for walking us through your project. I love the small gears you put onto your flowers.

  4. This clearly took a long time to create with all of those special details, but the finished product looks amazing! I love the colors :)

  5. Sarah, this is absolutely amazing! The overall look is so beautiful with the purple flowers and pretty multicolor tree trunk. But the details are just so -- detailed! I love seeing all the photos you took of it, thanks for sharing!

  6. I'll echo Di, with the mind-blowing comment. I enjoyed seeing this magnificent art piece you're displaying in your re-decorated home, and gosh, aren't you justly proud of creating an original work of art. Won't be seeing this anywhere else. I also enjoyed reading the process you used on each of the elements, and that's a good tip about the pearl ex and glass bead gel. I've had pearl ex for a long time, don't use it. This is just very stunning, and looks striking above your table. TFS the links to the videos, and you should be very proud of the design as well as the creation process.It's truly beautiful. TFS & Hugs. Have a good weekend.

  7. Awesome project! Thanks for sharing the details. How cool was that to hang your own art work in your newly painted room?! I love the light and airy flowers in the tree. I googled "prills" (USArtQuest). Those flowers turned out really neat too.
    Go You!