Sunday, December 29, 2013

DIY: Painting from Vintage Book Covers

Well, I hope ya'll just had the very best holiday ever and that Santa was super good to you. All I can say is that I musta been totally well-behaved this year (and that Santa has lowered his expectations of acceptable behavior) because I really scored. I don't wanna brag but if you happen to notice my photos are just a pinch better it's because the hubs upgraded my dropped-more-times-than-I-can-remember/seven-year-old camera to some super fly thing. Thankfully it doesn't have too many bells and whistles that require extensive manual reading. Because, let's be sexist, the only person who reads manuals are the Man. For the ladies, well, there's pinterest. So you know I've already pinned "25 Super Cute Ways to Snap Super Cute Pictures While Attempting to Look Super Cute".

Speaking of The Hubs, he requested a certain handmade giftie for Christmas. He's always loved the outdoors, especially hiking and camping. Recently, he's been reading some vintage outdoorsy books with just the best covers ever. His request: paintings of the book covers.  
The photo on the left shows the original book cover I worked from. We don't own either of these books (the first editions sell for a couple hundred dollars on ebay) so I worked from images found online. My 14" X 16" painting is on the right. Even though this painting took longer because of the extra layer of color added, I'm not gonna lie, it's my fave.

For the cover of this book, I attempted to antique the canvas a little by scrapping it with a wiry brush. You can kinda see that effect at the bottom. I'm not sure if I love it but when I'm done with a project, I'm, like, done

By the way, painting these camping books has me remembering all sorts of outdoorsy adventures. Like the time my mom took me and my cousins camping on the grounds of the theme park Indiana Beach (do I have any Hoosiers in the house? Can I get a "There's more than Corn in Indy-Ana!" Which is true. There's also corny song writers.) We had an army green canvas tent exactly like the one on the cover of this book. Unfortunately, because all of us were Girl Scout Dropouts, we had no idea how to put the thing up and so, in the middle of the night when it began to rain, all of the aluminum poles collapsed on my side of the tent. And, if you know anything about canvas tents (which I did not), you are never supposed to touch them once they are wet because then the water drips in. And it did. Again, on my side of the tent. Moral of story: Don't go camping with my mother. In Indiana. In the rain. Ever.

Back to the DIY at hand, I started by painting the canvases a color that best matched the book covers. I then used that aforementioned wiry brush to kind of rough up the canvas (Canvas, Ima gonna Rough You Up!). I used chalk to sketch in the design because it was easier to see and erase than pencil.
From there, I just blocked in the dark color. Once that was dry, I used a slightly damp towel to wipe away the chalk lines.
And then there was the lettering. Ewww! I hate lettering. How did I ever forget after painting this Smoky Mountain picture? Which I only painted because I had forgotten how tiresome all the lettering in this calendar proved to be. And how difficult it is to actually get the sizing correct like in this Nashville painting. Apparently I'm a glutton for punishment. And chocolate. Where's my chocolate punishment? Cuz I could totes use some of that.
Once that first painting was knocked out, I started on this one. Which was a pinch more involved because of the addition of another color.

I kinda went at it screen printing/color-by-numbers style by layering the colors from the background moving forward.
I took a lotta liberties with the composition of this painting (read: I messed it up and had to come up with an alternative) but in the end, I kinda love this painting.
Hubs and I've been taking some seriously long day hikes. I've been in my glasses this week after contracting a delightful eye infection that left me feeling as though I were blinking over shards of glass. Lovely, right? Being out with this dude reminded me of one of the times we camped in Kentucky at Mammoth Cave. Lemme set the scene for you: it was twilight, we'd just set up camp and I took a short stroll to the ladies room (FYI: for those of you that do not camp, there is no "ladies room"). Upon my return, I heard a "chuh-chuh-chuh-CHUH-CHUH!" sound coming from the ground and I looked down to see a rattleshake frantically shaking his tail and slowly raising his head. I screamed bloody murder and with legs that felt like noodles, I ran back to the tent. "MITCH! Mitch! MITCH!!" I screamed to this dude who, after hearing my commotion in the woods, looked more annoyed than worried. "What? You're scaring the wildlife."

Oh, and speaking of wildlife that incident with the snake was only topped by the time we hiked the four miles out of our campsite and got all the way home only to find that I'd had a huge scorpion just chillin' in my backpack. When we got home and I unzipped my bag, out he popped, crawling around on our kitchen counter with a "So, is this your place? Not bad, not bad. Don't know about your decorator but I've got a coupla friends than can help you get this place lookin' sharp. You know, like my tail. Heh heh heh."

 Dear Wildlife. Suck it.
I'm kinda stoked about these paintings because it's inspired us to decorate our Tennessee-themed pad with a vintage camping vibe also. Complete with scorpions and rattlesnakes. Should be pretty sweet.

AND's time to announce the Winner of the Best Artsty Pick Up Line Contest. Drum roll, puhlease? No?! Well, how about a rattlesnake rattle. Thank you...

I'm an artist but...for you, baby, I'll get a JOB! by Laureen!

Congrats, Laureen! 
And thank you to everyone who submitted and voted! I loved each and every line and have tested them all myself. Thanks, guys!


  1. Love this project, and you've given me a fab idea. My hubs recently bought his dream car: a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe! I was skeptical at first, but it is totally fab. His birthday isn't till July, but I bet he'd love a vintage style painting of his true love. (The car definitely trumps the wife, sadly!)

    1. Did I really just use the word 'fab' not once, but TWICE in my comment above? Holy guacamole!

    2. Oh, I bet he would love that! My father-in-law was very much into restoring classic cars and had a garage full of the paraphernalia that he collected and cherished. His thing was to collect the glass bud vases that were in old cars (as your hubs if he knows what those are, I'm sure he does). I think a painting would be a fab fab FAB ;) gift!

  2. I must confess that I do read manuals. (I spent 25 years as a portrait photographer so I guess I had no choice)I also thought running from a rattlesnake was the worse thing to do...I would have packed up and left immediately if that had happened to me :)

    1. Oh, trust me, I would have LOVED to have hightailed it outta there...but hubs had already set up camp. Besides, as he told me, the snake only smelled MY scent so HE was safe (what?!).

  3. I'm from Illinois, but I could definitely provide you with "There's more than corn in Indy-aaaaaaaaaaaaaa-na, at In-dee-an-na Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeach!" :)

    1. Well, I grew up in Joliet! The great state of Great America which kinda put Indiana Beach to shame :)

  4. These are AMAZING!!! I hate your stories remind me why I'm happy to live in Scotland where the scariest wildlife is not that scary :-)

    1. Ha! I have a love/hate with the outdoors...because, in all honesty, I'd much rather be under my electric blanket with my coffee, chocolate and whatever craft is at hand. But I SUPPOSE getting outside is good for you ;) Even if it means mishaps with wildlife!

  5. I laughed so much at your snake story. I hate snakes, seeing that here in Australia the damn things can kill you in a blink of the eye. We spent our Christmas break at Mt Buller in the Australian Alps, only 1600m above sea level so I'm not sure if it deserves the alps tag but it does snow there in winter so we'll go with that. In order to work off some of the festive food I had indulged in before my backside qualified for its own postcard, I went for a cross country run every day. And one day I happened upon a brown snake, one of the deadliest. I can relate to your description of legs feeling like noodles, I was rooted to the spot on noodle legs, plaintively squeaking "please snake go away, please go away". It slithered off into the undergrowth and I had some unscheduled sprint training to get home. The added problem was from then on every damn stick and twig and shadow on the track looked like a snake!

  6. Thank for visiting this blog and nice idea and knowledge them
    Vintage Home D├ęcor Ideas


Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.