Tutorial: Canvas Art for Father’s Day

It’s almost Father’s Day! My husband follows the traditional model of being very difficult to buy for (unless I’m in the mood to shell out a bunch of money on camping gear, which I rarely am), so for his second Father’s Day, I had a brainstorm. And since this kind of deluge is so rare in the parched landscape of the inside of my head, I want to share it with you.

Every year since my daughter was about a year and a half, I’ve let her go nuts with actual paint and an actual canvas to create a finished product for her daddy to appreciate. We have them hanging in the gallery wall in our bedroom. One of the best parts of parenting is watching a small person learn how to do things, and the changes from big baby swirls to actual representational art have been fascinating to track.


This isn’t a tutorial exactly because it’s more like an idea, but I’ll share the tips I’ve picked up from doing this now three years in a row just in case anyone wants to create some canvas art of their own.


  • Canvas of your choosing
  • Sponges and brushes – we like these with the large handles
  • Acrylic paint (if the artiste is under twelve or so, be sure that the label says conforms to ASTM D-4236 to guarantee it is nontoxic and safe for children to use – here is a good article on choosing paint for children’s projects. Get the water based paints unless you feel like messing with turpentine.)
  • Paper plates (to use as a painter’s palette)
  • Painting smock (optional – we have Mala from Ikea which has been in use for two years and will fit for several more – not bad for $5!)
  • Easel (optional)


Let kid paint canvas. Done!

Age 2

All right, here’s a couple tips. Outdoors is definitely preferable for this, if you can manage it, or you can go with the newspaper-on-the-table-and-floor option. I use paper plates as palettes for the paint, and measure out just a tiny amount at a time, using more as requested by the tiny artist. Throw on the smock or just let ’em be naked, if they’re young enough for that to still be socially acceptable. Tie back their hair, provide several brushes, and stand back.

Age 1

Well, not too far back. Just far enough that the paint doesn’t splatter in your wine La Croix.

Age 3 – tongue out for maximum artistry

As for advice or direction regarding the art itself, I don’t give much. When it comes to kids and creativity, I believe that adults can steer and model and provide inspiration and materials, but if kids are always being told what to make, then that’s not really being creative, is it? So let them go and enjoy what transpires – one year glitter glue was incorporated – and even if it doesn’t mesh with the aesthetic of your wallscape, it will no doubt be a perfect snapshot of a moment in the life of your child.

Happy Father’s Day!




Have a suggestion for Anna to try – recipe, craft, or project? Send me a message or leave it in the comments!

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