Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home

DIY Wall Art


Art is expensive.  I can usually afford a cute postcard-size artist print when we visit a street fair or something, but our dining room wall has a 9′ expanse of blank wall and, well, that’s a whole lot of postcards.  The blank wall was beginning to bug me, but since funds for artwork are currently non-existent, I knew whatever we were going to hang on that wall was going to have to be made in-house.

This is the wall of which I speak:

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We do have a table in there now, although admittedly not much else.

Now, I’m no stranger to the DIY wall art thing– a couple years back I created a fantastic 8′ panel featuring an airplane that we are planning on hanging in the dining room bedroom hallway.  It only took a day to complete and it is SO FREAKING AMAZING.  Seriously, I think it may be the greatest thing I’ve ever made second only to my kid.  Since it’s currently I pieces in a dark corner of my bedroom I’ll have to show you the finished project once it’s hung, but this is Pottery Barn piece I replicated:

Plane Project

To recreate this piece for about $40 (opposed to the $299 it retails for), I printed an image of a similar plane laid out across 35 sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper.  Then I pieced the plane together with tape and used Mod Podge to transfer the ink onto wood panels.  This is the template I used for the ink transfer to give you an idea.


I found the template at The Cre8tive Outlet who provides fabulous details and instructions here, here, and here if you want to give it a try.  Doooo it!!!

So, we toyed with hanging this piece in our dining room, but the chandelier would hang down in front of it, and I love the plane so much that I just don’t want to have anything hanging between me and it’s awesomeness.  That decided, I hit up Pinterest for ideas for a new piece.

At some point it occurred to me that it might be neat to do a transportation theme (maybe I can make a train for Logan’s room down the line?) using different mediums.  For whatever reason, I decided a bike would be neat for the dining room and because of the length of the wall it seemed that a tandem bike would suit my needs best.  So I downloaded a silhouette of a vintage tandem bicycle I found on Google Images and enlisted my mom to come help with the artistry (not my strong suit).


This time around I wanted to use something other than the 2′ x 2′ wood panels I used for the plane — that thing is HEAVY and hanging it is going to be a bear.  I figured canvases would be nice and light and, with that in mind, I bought three 2′ x 3′ canvases for this project (FYI Michaels frequently has 40% off their canvases and you can pair that deal with their Deal of the Week — just pull the coupon from the website up on your phone and they’ll scan it at the register).

Rather than trying to draw the bicycle freehand onto the canvas I decided it would be easier if I just blew it up to the size I needed it and traced it. Luckily, I work in a construction office and have access to the giant plotters that architects and engineers use to print their drawings — though I’m sure Kinkos or Staples could print something up for you for a couple bucks.

I pasted the image on a 36″x72″ template and printed it across four 30″x32″ pages.  Like this: Bicycle

So once I had my canvases, the prints, and some craft paint my mom came down and we played with the baby until he was ready for some zzz’s.  Once he was down, she started painting the background on the canvases while I started cutting out the silhouette so that we could trace it. I very carefully cut the bicycle out so all I had left was the black bike (and I trashed the white background) and taped the segments together.  As soon as all the canvases were painted and we were ready to get to tracing and painting … the baby woke.  Go figure.

So we went to the Zoo.

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When we got back and the kiddo went down again, Mom and I traced the bike outline onto the canvases and painted it black.  Minus the addition of the spokes, we clapped ourselves on the back and considered it very near done!

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But … when we brought it inside something wasn’t right.  I loved the orange and chose it because I thought it was fun and bold, but sadly it didn’t work in our space.  As soon as we brought it into the room it made all the wood in the living room (the paneled wall especially) seem really light and brassy — can wood look brassy? —  instead of warm and rich as it had before.  I went to bed wondering how I could fix it and determined that, sadly, the color would have to change.

Blues are opposite of browns on the color wheel (whereas orange is a near neighbor) so I knew a rich blue would bring out the warm tones that I was after in our woods.   I also thought that the gold would not only incorporate our mid-century chandelier (we may or may not replace this down the line) but add a touch of glam, too.

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So, there was no easy fix unfortunately, but with a little time and effort (and another $5 for new paints) I could have the look I was going for.  It was funky, it was bold, but it had a dash of elegance to it, too — a mix I thought perfect for a dining/living room combo.

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I started by taking the blue and carefully covering the orange.  I purposefully didn’t cover all of it because I liked the look of the variations peeking through–although it did give a bit more coverage that what you see below — this is just the first coat and all three canvases got one and a half (the half being a spotty dusting where I deemed there too much orange).

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Here is a photo showing all three stages of the transformation.  On the right is the original orange panel, and the final blue and gold on the left.  The middle panel is halfway done with the new blue paint covering the orange, but without any gold applied yet.

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The greatest thing about paint is that it’s not permanent.  You can always, always, always change the color if you don’t like the way things pan out the first time around.  In my case, the finished product ended up taking a week to complete (night hours after the bambino was in bed) instead of a naptime afternoon project that I had anticipated but whatev.  I love it.


No, I lurrrve it.  Can’t wait to hang it and show you all how it looks in the dining room! (EDIT: we hung it! Check it out in the room here!) But first, spokes. This part makes me nervous!!!


To get the spacing right I’m going to need to find the diameter circumference of the inner circle and … divide by …. sixteen??  …No …that won’t work.  Thirty-two.  …Right?

Math is, again, not my strong suit.  Whelp, at least I can always paint over it and start again if I get it wrong!

Update: See it on the wall with the spokes here!


Author: Olivia @ Mid-Century Modern(ization)

I am a wife, mother, and writer. I am also a crafting, furniture-refinishing, home-designing nut.

7 thoughts on “DIY Wall Art

  1. I am sure it will turn out great! Looking forward to seeing the finished piece. By the way, when do you sleep?!

  2. You give me far too much credit! Would you be surprised to learn that I’m in bed by 9pm most nights, oftentimes earlier, and up by 5:30am (even on weekends)? :)

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  6. Would you have the images for this project by any chance? The original tutorial has missing images :/

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