DIY Canvas Photos

Today I’d like to welcome Alissa from The Illiterate Author.  We go way back to the long-ago days in Maine when I had teeny little babies.  Alissa is an inspiring young woman who has bouquets of good things to offer blogland.  I’m so happy she’s here to share this DIY project with us.

Welcome Alissa!

*Clap Hands Now*


I love canvas photos. I love how they turn memories into art, and special pictures into masterpieces.  I love them, but at $30 a pop for an 8×10, they don’t love my budget, which is fairly typical of things I love. Thankfully, a while back I discovered DIY canvas photos while browsing through the craft section of Pinterest. I had been wanting to display our parent’s and grandparent’s wedding photos as a sort of “family tree” wall for a while, and this project seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

I’ve made several now, and I can’t seem to rave about them enough. They’re easy, quick, virtually fool proof, and inexpensive. (They’re especially affordable if you plan on making more than one; some of the supplies, like the Mod Podge are not super cheap, but will do quite a few photos.)

As an added bonus, I’m fairly certain creating them yourself makes you an artist. That my friends, equals bragging rights. What’s not to love?

DIY Canvas Photo tutorial

Loot you’ll need:

  • Scrapbook paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Sponge brushes
  • Wax paper
  • Mod Podge
  • A canvas (You can use any size–I chose an 8×10)
  • A photo you love (I chose a photo of the hub’s grandmother and grandfather on their wedding day.)

Once you’ve got all your loot together, you’re ready to begin!

Note: There are roughly 10 thousand different varieties of Mod Podge. Roughly. I used the Matte variety.

Step 1. Measure the thickness of your canvas, and then cut the scrapbook paper into strips for the sides of your canvas. My canvas was 8×10″, and the thickness was about .75,” so my strips were 8x.75″ and 10x.75″ respectively. Try not to be too awed by my math prowess.

Step 2. Prepare for Mod Podging! If you’re anything like me, you WILL make a mess, so you’ll want to protect your work area. Lay down a layer of wax paper to catch drips. Wax paper is great because your canvas won’t stick to it when it dries.

Step 3. Using your brush, apply an even layer of Mod Podge to each side of the canvas, placing the scrapbook paper as you go.


Step 4. Once the sides are done, apply a layer Mod Podge to the surface of your canvas. Don’t skimp with the glue here!


Once your canvas is evenly coated, place the photo on the canvas and allow it to dry. I gave mine about an hour before moving to the next step.

Step 5. Once you know it’s dry, apply an even coat to the sides and top of your canvas. This is what seals everything, giving your photo a layer of protection. Do your best to apply the coat evenly and to keep your strokes all going the same direction. Your photo will appear a bit milky at this point–don’t panic! It will dry clear. Pinky swear.


Again, allow to dry completely before moving on. See? I told you it would dry clear.


You’re almost done!

Now that the Mod Podge is dry, you’ll notice narrow gaps between the photo and the paper. This is where the paint comes in.

Step 6. Squeeze a small amount of the acrylic paint onto the wax paper. Don’t be afraid to mix colors to get a shade you love. For previous photos, I created a slate gray to accommodate my black and white photos. This step is literally fool proof–if you make a mistake, just wipe off the paint with a damp cloth. Thanks to the Mod Podge, the photo won’t smear. Honestly, I’m beginning to think Mod Podge should make me their paid spokesperson.

Using your brush, paint around the edges of the canvas to fill in the gaps and create an artsy border around the edge of the photo.You can be as heavy or as light handed as you prefer with this step. I prefer a light border, but that’s just me.

Allow to dry, and you’re done!

For this particular photo, I ended up using plain old white paint as there was already a white border around the photo.


Here’s a better example of the paint border. (In case you were wondering, this is my parents on their wedding day. You can’t tell here, but my pop’s suit was maroon, and that lovely ruffled shirt you’re seeing was a pale, baby pink. If there was ever any doubt, love truly is blind.)


My “family tree” wall, one step closer to completion. The goal is to eventually include all the grandparents, but tracking down 50+ year old photos is taking a little longer than anticipated. What doesn’t though, right?


That’s it folks! These canvas photos are simple,quick, and will make you feel like Martha Stewart minus the house arrest. I must warn you though, once you start crafting, it can be hard to stop. For me, it’s even more addicting than Facebook and cream cheese frosting. Don’t say you weren’t forewarned!


Thank you for this beautiful way to save memories!  After this very thorough DIY post, I think I make a canvas photo of my own.  And, if I can do it, anyone can!

 I appreciate you sharing your art with us!

Now go visit The Illiterate Author.  See you Monday. :-)


  1. says

    First of all, did you make that incredible tree painting on the wall? It’s beautiful and I want one. Second, what a fabulous idea! I have to try this one myself. Thanks Fringe Girl and Alissa for the inspiration.

    • says

      Why thank you, Leah! I’m sorry to disappoint, but the tree picture you’re seeing is actually a framed fabric “family tree” my grandmother made for me. She found fabric with that beautiful tree on it, and embroidered our names and wedding date beneath it. We absolutely love it! Good luck creating your own canvas photos! I’m sure you’ll love them.

  2. says

    Oh my! I love this idea, Alissa! We need to liver closer again. I think I’d just hire you to do my crafting. :) I’m afraid of what two little children would do if they were around during this craft!

  3. says

    I don’t “do” arty projects because I always seem to find a way to muck them up. This, however, seems completely doable. I’m gonna go for it! Thanks for sharing Alissa (and FringeMom)!

  4. says

    Fantastic project! I just printed up several old photos last week, because the walls along my staircase are looking beat up (and I’m too lazy to repaint just yet). This will be an excellent way to use them, and so clever. Thanks! (Pinning it, too, btw.)

    • says

      Oh, these are great for covering less than perfect walls! I used them in my dining room to try to spice things up a bit (we’re in an apartment and not allowed to paint.) Have fun!

      ~Alissa @ The Illiterate Author

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