Have you ever seen those spray painters at street fairs or on YouTube, where they create those incredible galaxy paintings? Most likely. I wanted to try to do one for myself, to show you how to do it, or share where I went wrong so you are better prepared to try it yourself. I call it Spray Paint Canvas Art! Because I did this on canvas. Usually you see it done on cardboard or some other media, but I found in my research that there are a few artists doing this on canvas. I call my piece, Space Cap’n. I will explain that later, for now lets dive in.
Normal I just start with what you need for this, but I added my own twist to it, so I thought I would take a moment to explain. I didn’t want to just spray paint a canvas and that be the entire thing. No I wanted to paint my cat into this. His name is Cap’n Arrhg, so that is why I called it space cap’n. I don’t normally work with portraits or defined living creatures. Personally I am not comfortable painting living creatures. Since I am already stepping out of my comfort zone with the spray painting, I figured why not step even further out of it, and paint my cat in it too. Change things up more than normal. Now I did not use spray paint for the cat, so this will be a two part painting. First with acrylic paint, and second with spray paint.
What You Need
- Acrylic paint
- Spray paint
- Plastic sheet or bag
- Plastic cups
- gloves ( I didn’t use any, so I highly recommend them)
I used a 24×30 inch Artit’s Loft canvas. The acrylic paints I used came from four different brands. The Fine Touch black and white, Masters Touch yellow ochre, Artist Loft brilliant red mixed with the white, and Craft Smart shamrock green. The spray paints I used came from just two brands. The black came from Krylon Color Master, and the other four colors I used came from American Accents. They were blossom white, magenta, seaside, and fire orange. I used red solo cups to help cover areas of the canvas I had already spray painted, while I did the rest. I also used some of my different sized paint palettes to cover other areas. The key with that is to have things you don’t mind getting painted. I would have preferred to use kitchen pot lids, but I didn’t’t have any to spare at the moment. The cardboard I used to cover my main picture while I spray painted.
As I stated before this was a two part project. First I sketched and painted a portrait of my cat on the center of the canvas. I haven’t worked much with definitive shapes or objects. I am better at the paint pours than I am drawing people and animals, but the purpose of all this was to step out of my comfort zone, and try something new. Drawing my cats face was exactly that. The painting came much easier to me, but the initial sketching of his face took just about an entire day and a trip to Walmart for more erasers and a ruler.
Normally I don’t sketch out anything before painting, but for this project I didn’t feel I would be able to just wing it from the get go. After sketching out his face, I painted it. At first, I was trying to start from the top of his head down, and get every detail as I went. This proved to be very time-consuming, and not very good approach. Changing it up, I then just started to paint the area of his face with the color I knew was most prominent in that spot. Using a references photo, and the cat when he would grace me with his presence, I started to just put a base coat of color on his face. Going back later to add the details in. He has a lot of black on him, so I did that last. Doing all the lighter colors first, and layering them over each other as I went.
I took a couple days to work on him, doing a little at a time, letting him dry, then going back later to do more. I find that when I sit too long working, I miss things, so I like to take breaks and come back with fresh eyes.
Part two/ Spray Paint
Now because of some bad weather, I wasn’t able to go to spray painting right away. It took about a week before I could get outside to do this. I took that time to save up some plastic wraps off of packages, and cardboard for this part though. I cut some cardboard to put over the cats face. It was a little bigger than him, but I just filled that in later. Now from what I found in my research for this project, canvas soaks up spray paint faster than cardboard. So you have to be generous with the paint.
I started by using my seaside blue in the right corner of my canvas. Spraying a nice sized circle. Then layers it with magenta, then a tiny bit of black, and some white over that. Next using my plastic wrap to swoop over the spot till it looked sorta like a planet. To save that work, I placed a red solo cup upside down on it. So the brim of it was facing down. It didn’t cover it completely, but that is okay. The black would later add the edge to it. I repeated this step two more times, swapping my colors out in two other spots on the canvas. I will say I didn’t have enough plastic wrap. I wasn’t expecting it to get as dirty as it did. I also found out, that the color will turn into a muddle faster than the acrylic paint I am used to working with. Be cautious with this.
This is also where my different sized paint palettes came in. I used those to help cover the other two spots I did. When everything was covered, I sprayed everything the rest of the canvas with the black till it was all covered. Cutting one of the solo cups in half, I sprayed some white into one of the halves, dipped my fingers in it, and using a flicking motion, created the stars on the black. Now I also did this with the seaside blue just a little. After all of that was done, it was time to lift everything off the canvas to see how it turned out.
*Note, the reason highly recommend gloves, is because at this point my hands were covered and I wasn’t able to take pictures during the process of spray painting.
After all my paint had dried, I needed to make a few touch ups. The cardboard I placed over the cats face did leave an edge around it. So to fix this, I just went in with my black acrylic paint to fill it in. Some black spray paint had also made it on to the white part of the cats neck. Meaning I went in with white to fix that as well and any other splatters that had made it on to his face. This is also where I went back and added the whiskers and little things I forgot before.
What I didn’t know about this before starting, was that some spray paint wouldn’t cover one another well. What I mean is that, the seaside blue seamed to come through the black no matter how much I sprayed over it. Giving it that cell look. I like how it turned out, but it was a surprise to see it doing that. You can see it most around the bottom planets. The magenta and fire orange laid over one another nicely though.
I also found that doing whiskers was not as easy as I thought it would be. Mine came out thicker than what I wanted, I tried using old brushes with the bristles stuck together to get a thin line. That didn’t work, then I tried using the back end of a paint brush, and that also didn’t work. If anyone has tips on how to do that better, I will happily take them.
I am overall satisfied with the final product. It turned out a lot better than I thought it would for my first attempt at spray painting, and painting my cats face. I will say the hardest part of this whole thing, was getting my cat to sit still so I could get a reference photo of him.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and feel free to share any tips you have if this is something you have done before.
If you haven’t tried spray painting before, I will say it isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I was a little worried it wouldn’t turn out well, and once I saw how the colors could get all muddy so easily I started to have doubts, but it turned out to be any easy fix. Just let it sit for a minute before going over it again.
In the end, I am glad I went so far out of my comfort zone with this. It turned out better than I thought it would, and best of all it was a challenge. We should all challenge ourselves every once in a while, and ya never know when you will surprise your self like I did with this piece.