What Is A Messy Canvas Exactly?

What is a Messy Canvas?  A messy canvas is done the same way as a Subway sign in that you apply vinyl to canvas.  See that project here.  But instead of applying it to while canvas, the canvas is painted multiple colors before applying the vinyl.  Then the vinyl is used as a stencil, paint is applied over the canvas and the vinyl, then the vinyl is removed leaving the multicolored canvas below.  The effect is very dramatic.

What You will need:

        • a canvas ( I used small ones to try the method out but use what you like)
        • Removable vinyl at least that big
        • Pick
        • Light source (Brightpad)
        • Multiple colors of acyrlic craft paint
        • Foam brush
        • Stencil brush
Picking Colors

The colors you pick decide the tone of the messy canvas.  Try to stay within a family of colors (pastels,  florescent, brights, or shades of a particular color).  You also need to pick a top color.  I suggest either black or white, but as long as it contrasts the type of colors for underneath, the sky’s the limit.

The Halloween Messy Canvas I love .  Several of the ones above are the ones I didn’t give away as gifts.  I didn’t like the color selection on the Bronx canvas.  The white didn’t contrast the pastels enough. The problems with the I Love you was paint bleed.  We will discuss later.

Prepping the canvas

With a foam brush paint the canvas several different colors.  Put small swatches of color all over the canvas randomly.  There is no pattern and you don’t even have to clean your brush in between colors.  Just make sure the whole canvas is covered.  Let the canvas dry overnight.

Be careful that there are no ridges of paint.  If you take a dry brush and brush over the canvas after you are done painting it this will smooth out any ridges.  When dry it should look like this one I did for the Halloween Messy canvas

Painted canvas
Painted Canvas
Applying the vinyl

It is better to use removable vinyl at this point since you will be taking it off later but permanent vinyl works too.  It is just a tiny bit harder to get off if you let it sit for more than a week.  Design and cut the vinyl as you did in the subway sign.  If you need to review the tutorials for that project it is here.

Other designs can be used to but try not to have any large open spaces.  It decreases the effect.  This was one of the problems with the I Love You sign above.

Applying the Top Coat
When you apply the top coat of paint, use a stencil brush and try not to push the paint around.  Just dab it on.  If you try to brush the paint on it will get underneath the vinyl and you will not get clean lines.  This was the other problem with the I Love You sign.  You can see that none of the lines are as crisp as they should be.
Once the whole canvas is covered let the paint dry overnight.
Finishing the Project
Once the paint is dry, remove the pieces of vinyl carefully.  Do not scratch the areas where there is no vinyl.  The vinyl will come up fairly easily.  You should have nice crisp lines and the mosaic colors below should show through nicely and even more randomly.  If you look closely at the Bronx sign you can see this.  You may need to look at the original design space file to determine where the vinyl should be.  
Once you have removed all the vinyl, your project is done.

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