Budget-happy DIY outdoor art

This summer I finally got around to trying an idea that I’ve had for a long time: outdoor art. I usually have a few extra stretched canvases kicking around, and I’ve always wondered how they would hold up outdoors if I modpodged a print onto them and sealed them. Well the answer – so far – is that they’ve held up wonderfully!

I was inspired, of course, by the gorgeous photo gallery wrap canvases you can have printed professionally. However, even when you catch a great deal on them, they are still a little too expensive for my liking to experiment with them outdoors.  So, using materials that I already had (for the most part), I made my own.

My supplies:

    • Blank canvases. I used 12 x 12 stretched canvases from Michaels that were on sale for $6 each. I already had a couple, so that saved me extra money.
    • Art prints or photos, printed on regular printer paper. I found succulent watercolour digital art on Etsy that I loved so I purchased it and downloaded it for my personal use. The seller is no longer offering this digital art or I’d provide the link; however, if you search Etsy you’ll no doubt find digital art you’ll love!
    • Scissors
    • Modpodge
    • Foamy paint brushes
    • Weather sealant. I used what i already had from another project. It is meant for wood but worked well.

The process

Once you know the size of your canvas, you need to get your art printed to that size. I played around with this visually in Photoshop first. I created a new document in the dimensions of my canvas (12 x 12) and then placed the digital art onto it. From there, I decided whether I wanted to show the full image of the succulents or just a portion, etc. For all but the middle canvas, I decided to have only part of the succulent shown on the canvas. Once I liked the placement of the art, I then saved it and had it printed at Staples in the desired size on regular paper (not photo paper).

I should mention that although my canvases are 12 x 12, I printed them on slightly smaller on 11 x 14 size paper. There was quite a price jump to the 12 x 18 paper, and I was trying to do this all on a budget. Since my art on the canvas wouldn’t be covering the entire thing anyway, I decided to cut out the succulents and modpodge them onto the canvas instead of simply cutting a 12 x 12 square (the size of the canvas) and modpodging that.

For those of you who haven’t used Modpodge before, don’t be alarmed when it goes on white or creates a ripple effect on your paper. It will dry white and smooth.

I did several coats of the Modpodge just to be on the safe side. I think I ended up doing at least three but it may have been four!

Lastly, I took the canvases outside and gave them three or so coats of a weather sealant. I made sure to spray the sides of the canvases as well.

And finally, they were done and ready to hang! Our fence is made up of narrow fir strips so rather than using nails in the thin wood, I used good ol’ 3M Command velcro strips. I’m happy to report that I’ve held strong ever since I hung them.

The end result

I was a little afraid that the paper might start to lift after a while or that that the canvases would show signs of mildew. After nearly three months, however, they are as good as new. I even had to wipe down the canvases a bit to remove some dust from neighbourhood construction, and they wiped up really nicely.

So that’s that! I’m so happy I gave this a try because it really livens up a boring stretch of fence just inside the entrance to our back yard. Now I’m dreaming about fun seasonal canvases I could do: Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc.!

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