Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Not all who wander are lost" DIY painting

Have you heard the quote "Not all those who wander are lost"? It's from a poem written by J. R. R. Tolkien for his novel Lord of the Rings.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Tolkien's quote is often shortened to "Not all who wander are lost," and has been used recently in inspirational or decorative artwork.

My brother and his wife are decorating their first house, and have expressed a desire for more artwork I thought the "Not all who wander ..." quote was quite appropriate for them for many reasons, including the fact that they love to travel. The image I wanted to pair with the words is a hot air balloon. Not only does it represent adventure, but it also represents their marriage, since he proposed to her on a hot air balloon. I found lots of great "Not all who wander" artwork on Esty, but none quite matched with what I was looking for, so I decided to create my own.

I started with a blank canvas from a craft store. I liked the idea of reversing out the words, rather than painting the words on top. I thought it would be more interesting to mix up the letter styles a bit, so I  purchased both some ArtSkills Vinyl Letters and ArtSkills Jumbo Alpha Stickers. I used a ruler to space out my letters and keep my lines straight, then placed my letters on the canvas, leaving room for the hot air balloon in the upper-right corner.

I was about to coat the whole canvas with my background color, but then I decided it would also be more interesting to have the word "wander" not only in a different font and size, but in a different color. So I lifted those letters back up and painted a stripe of black. I also wanted to do a test run of my hot air balloon design, so I drew it in pencil first, then went over it with a Sharpie.

After the black paint dried, I laid down my "wander" stickers again. Then I gave the whole thing a coat of sky blue paint. Because the canvas is so textured, it's really hard to get the stickers to stay down. I had to hold them down sometimes, and even then one time a letter moved and I got paint in the wrong place, which I had to touch up.

Here's an up close of what the smaller stickers looked like under the blue paint. (I had already peeled them off the word "wander." You can see some areas I had to touch up later, where the sticker was not sealed to the canvas enough and paint seeped under.)

After the paint dried, I took off all the stickers. As you can see, the hot air balloon outline was visible through the blue paint.

The next step was to paint in the hot air balloon.

I then outlined the balloon with black paint. From a distance, the purple looked too close to black, so I lightened it and then re-outlined.

Here's the final product, before it got gift-wrapped.

It's not a masterpiece, but hopefully the sentiment came through. :)


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  1. Hollie--I think that is a great gift! :) How cool that the sharpie showed through the sky blue paint. Great job! Pinning!

  2. I'm so behind on my blog reading so am only just seeing this now - this is so cute!! How sweet a gift, I'm sure they loved it :) x

  3. :) Do you need an after unwrapping pic? It's in the den now, but I'm thinking about moving it to our bedroom. Also per Gail's comment above, it would be fantastic to run into this on Pinterest.

    1. I didn't use your names because I thought you might like to be anonymous. Would love an in situ photo!

  4. I think this turned out beautiful! :)

    Btw, I'm a new follower!

    Brie @ Breezy Pink Daisies


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