As you may well know, upon moving to France full time, I also decided to take the photography business with me (now called Atelier Anthologie) Having started out in art school, and painting being part of my required courses, I thought the idea of making my own painted backdrops would be a fun DIY. What better time than summer to get outside and get messy! Please bare in mind that any texture under your canvas is likely to show through and you can either fight against it or work with it… up to you. I’m just working with it!
Materials I used:
Matte white house paint
Red, Blue and Yellow Primaries in Satin (all they had – matte is better)
Black Satin (again all they had – matte is better)
1 roller with extendable handle
A garden hose
A painters plastic drop cloth
A large piece of Canvas (mine is 2.5 x 3.5 meters)
lots of water
Let’s get started!
To start out I put my canvas on top of the plastic and then I sprayed it with a mist from the hose. Do this to help reduce some of the creases in your fabric and also to help it shrink just a little before you put the paint on, this is one of those “art school top tips”
While you leave this to dry a little (not entirely, just a little – you don’t want a soaked canvas or the paint just won’t stick) you’ll have a chance to mix your paints. I’ve worked with paints lots so I just bought primaries and started mixing and once I had the colour I wanted I added approximately an equal amount of water to it, mixed it thoroughly before applying – this allows it to go further so you aren’t wasting so much paint and it’ll keep your canvas a little more wet so it’s easier to blend. If you’re not experienced with colour blending just buy premixed so you don’t end up with a muddy mess.
*Start the base with your lighter colour.*
Once I had the lighter colour on I started around the edges with the darker tone.
After I was all the way around I started working it into the middle with a sponge. I find large sweeping motions are the nicest but you’ll find your groove. Note you’re going to be barefoot on your canvas, so be careful what paint is on your feet or it’ll spread!
At that point I decided I wanted a little more so I had a nearly empty roller and just sort of worked into the centre a little more to ease the workload on my shoulders from all the sponge blending.
Now just go, go, go with your sponge until you have the desired effect and leave it to dry! Voila! New canvas backdrop.
Sounds like a fun way to spend a sunny day. I look forward to seeing your first portraits shot with this background. How do you plan to hang it etc.?
The present space it’s likely to end up in is still under a bit of construction but there’s talk about putting something in the ceiling but I’m more tempted to just get a stand system so I can easily move it around if need be to catch the light