How to Paint Over a Large Canvas: Easy Mixed Media Wall Art Makeover

Have an old painting or canvas print that you’d like to makeover? Re-purposing old wall art is easier than you think. Especially when making mixed media art.

In this tutorial, learn how to paint over a large canvas to create a new and unique work of art. Follow along with my step-by-step tips for a pretty mixed media wall art makeover!

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mixed media wall art

Let me start by saying you need absolutely no art skills or experience to re-create this artwork. To paint over a large canvas is super easy. Follow these wall art makeover steps, then gather your supplies, and go for it!

Supplies needed for wall art makeover

  • Any old canvas in good condition.
  • Acrylic paints in your choice of colors.
  • Large paintbrush.
  • White matte Gesso.
  • Clear gel matte medium.
  • Scraps of paper, such as old postcards, letters, etc.
  • Old sheet or dropcloth to protect your painting area.

That’s it!

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Old canvas wall art “before”

Here is the old canvas wall art before I painted it over. It was a gift, and we had it hung up for a while. But then I painted my daughter’s wall pink, and the art no longer matched.

old wall art

I knew I wanted to repurpose this wall art right after I painted the wall pink. (Rather than buy something brand new.) Large canvas wall art can be expensive, and this art was already the perfect size with hangers.

Step 1: Sand & paint a layer of Gesso

The first thing I did to repurpose this art was to lightly sand it, (there was glitter on it too) then cover with a layer of matte white Gesso.

Gesso is very similar to white acrylic paint, only harder when dry. It’s great as a primer- I don’t recommend you skip this step. If you don’t have Gesso, just use white acrylic paint.

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As you can see, the Gesso does not have to be applied smoothly, especially when creating mixed media art. In fact, the texture that you see here is a good thing- the texture is part of the charm and we will be creating more of it!’

mixed media art

The Gesso I used here is from Blick art supplies, one of the best art stores around. You can also purchase Gesso here on Amazon.

Free shipping on orders of $35 or more. Exclusions apply.

After the gesso dried, I painted a thin layer of white acrylic paint.

Step 2: Create texture

Now, here’s where I had a bit of an art fail, and I have to be honest with you.

My original plan to repurpose this wall art was a bit different. I wasn’t going to do a mixed media abstract style makeover- I was planning on simply gluing down a print on top of the canvas.

I purchased a digital download from Etsy and had it printed in the same size as the canvas. But when I glued it down, the print wrinkled. Uh oh!

So I ripped off the print, leaving just a few small bits and even more texture. The original wall art makeover idea had morphed naturally into a mixed-media wall art makeover!

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Step 3: Glue some old images onto the canvas

Next, I found some fun old scraps of paper, old stamps, and other images I had tucked away and glued them down.

For glue, I recommend either Modge Podge or clear gel matte medium, which is what I used here. Both can be used as glue and as an invisible protective top layer.

mixed media art

Step 4: Paint over the canvas

For this step, I wanted to copy the style of the original digital download I’d purchased. It was an image of a minimalist beach landscape. A good one to mimic as I wanted to paint something easy.

For acrylic paints, I used a mix of what I had left from old projects. Nothing fancy. I may have included some of my oldest daughter’s cheap kids’ acrylics from Walmart. My paintbrush is from Walmart too.

First I painted the pink at the top, then the teal and blue at the bottom, then the yellow and orange, finishing with purple. When copying artwork, pay attention to proportions. For example, note how the pink-orange layer takes up about 2/3 of the space.

mixed media art

Step 5: Paint a final coat of gel matte medium

When your painting is complete, add a layer of gel matte medium to cover the entire artwork. This will protect your art from the sun, a splash of coffee, and other potential damage.

Now you can hang up your original mixed media art! Here is the finished painting:

mixed media art

Final thoughts on painting over large canvas art

I hope you enjoyed this simple tutorial on how to paint over a large canvas and turn it into a mixed media masterpiece!

Wall art tastes can change, but that doesn’t mean you need to scrap what you have and buy something brand-new. In fact, you might find re-purposing your wall art to be a fun Sunday afternoon project! It’s easy to give wall art a makeover, so why not? Please let me know what you think in the comments!

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paint over canvas painting

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