Subway Art Tutorial

stretched canvas
acrylic paints – see the bottom of this post for a list of what I used
printed template (I created mine in Microsoft Word)
graphite transfer paper (found mine in the drawing section at the local craft store)
freezer paper (or other transparent paper)
angled shader brush (mine was 1/2 inch)
small fan brush

Create and print your template. This part involved a bit of trial and error for me to get the size just right. Because my letters were large, some words required more than one page to print, so once all the letters were printed, I cut between the words, and pieced the words together using scotch tape.

This next step may seem like extra work, but it actually made the project much easier for me, because I could be SURE the letters were aligned correctly and that everything fit before doing the final transfer onto the canvas. Arrange your printed words on the canvas, and tape them into place using painter’s tape. I lined the bottom of each word against a large straight edge to make sure everything was straight. I did this step before I even unwrapped the canvas from its plastic packaging to be sure I didn’t damage it.

Tape a large piece of freezer paper (or other transparent paper) over the words (I needed two pieces) and use a marker to trace the words through the freezer paper.

At this point, I actually hung my canvas (freezer paper still attached) on the wall to make sure everything was straight and I liked the layout. If it looks crooked when you hang it, all you have to do is move the freezer paper to align it correctly, rather than having to remove the tape from each word.

Prepare your canvas. Carefully remove the freezer paper and set aside. Cover the entire canvas with one or two coats of paint. (I used vintage white.) Follow the instructions on the bottle for drying time between coats.

Once the canvas is COMPLETELY dry, carefully tape your freezer paper back onto the canvas using painter’s tape, making sure it is properly aligned. Slide a piece of transfer paper between the freezer paper and the canvas, graphite side down, and trace the outline of your letters onto the canvas.

Remove the freezer paper. Double-check the alignment and make sure everything is ok before you move on. At this point, you can still erase and reposition if you need to.

Now you can begin painting inside the outline of your letters. This is where I always got SO frustrated in the past. The secret is to use an angled shader brush! It is SO easy to paint straight clean lines! I only did one coat of paint on each of my letters.

Allow to COMPLETELY dry.

With a small fan brush, very lightly swish across each letter at an angle using a light color (I used buttermilk because I ran out of vintage white and you can’t tell the difference because it’s so light).

Dry. Hang. Enjoy!

Base colorFolk Art: Vintage White
Lettering – Americana: Spa Blu / Cadmium Yellow / Bubblegum Pink
Apple Barrel: Apricot / Cardinal Crimson / Green Apple
Wash – Americana: Light Buttermilk

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