A recent project to spruce up a blank wall. If you can hold scissors and a spray paint can, you can do this too! 

Step 1 | Gather the goods!

Of course you can adjust your canvas size and colors to best fit your space. For this version you’ll need…

  • Two canvases (These are 24×30″)
  • Large paint brush
  • Light gray acrylic paint (I used Apple Barrel’s Multi-Surface in Timeless Gray.)
  • Dark gray spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum’s Hammered finish in Gray.)
  • Painters tape
  • Magazine covers
  • Ball-point pen
  • Scissors
Step 2 | Give the canvases a light gray background wash.

I used about a third to a half of the 2 oz bottle, watered down in a bowl. Mix in the water a little at a time — you’ll want it to be about the same consistency as water, but still not at all see-through. Don’t worry about covering the canvas’s edges; spray paint will cover that later.

Also don’t worry about making it perfectly even. A watercolor-like look in the background is nice, I think!

While the paint is drying, work on your bird stencils.

Step 3 | Print some bird silhouettes.

A quick Google search will turn up plenty o’ options. I chose six different silhouettes.


It might take some trial and error to find the size that you like best — I used my printer’s “fast draft” setting to use the smallest amount of ink.

Step 4 | Trace your birds.

Put the silhouettes on top of a magazine, pressing down as hard as you can while you trace.


You’ll want to make your stencils out of something sturdier than printer paper — I used the covers of a couple magazines, but cardstock or a cereal box would work too! Make sure more paper or something else soft is under your magazine cover/cardstock so your indented lines will show up. To easily double the number of birds you’ve got to work with, flip each silhouette over and trace it from the back too.

Step 5 | Follow the indented lines you just made, and cut out your bird shapes.


Once you’re sure your canvases are dry…

Step 6 | Time to add the telephone wires.

After stretching out the length of painters tape you need, cut the tape in half, lengthwise, to make a thinner wire.

img_5390.jpgNote: let’s just say straight lines have never been a spiritual gift of mine, so I embraced the imperfections and just used my scissors to smooth out the more jagged scissor marks.

Step 7 | Move your birds around to find the arrangement you like the best.

A lesson in trial and error: originally I’d used the magazine stencils to make these contact paper birds for masking the spray paint, but it turns out contact paper doesn’t actually stick to canvas. So back I went to the magazine stencils.

Step 8 | Add painters tape to the back of your bird stencils…DSC_0165
…and stick them on your canvases.IMG_5385
Step 9 | Head outside, lay your canvases flat, and spray paint over the whole thing!

Especially around the birds, make sure you’re spraying straight down at a 90-degree angle. The spray paint can sneak under the stencils when the paint is flying sideways.

Step 10 | After the spray paint dries, peel off your stencils and tape, and voila!