How to Reuse a Canvas to Make a Jackson Pollock Style Painting

So I’ve been a little slow to finish projects as summer has turned to fall. Life gets in the way sometimes, but I’m hoping that now winter has arrived I’ll find some free time for crafting and making. Here’s the big project that I did complete in August, finally written up.

A friend of mine ended up with some very large canvases that she wanted rid of. I happily volunteered to take them off her hands, planning to prime them and reuse them. I hated to see them go to the landfill. The original art on them was done by children which might have been beautiful if I knew the children, but I didn’t, so there was no sentimental value in keeping these pieces intact.

Canvases before I started

Depending on your plans, you may want to first sand the canvases. The ones I started with certainly had some spots with raised textures, but since I was planning to create abstract expressionist art on top of them, I decided to leave that texture as a design feature.

I made sure the canvases were clean and then I started to prime. I used this acrylic gesso pictured below:
Basics Acrylic Gesso

This product is widely available: I found it at Dick Blick, Michael’s, and Amazon. Here’s what the canvases looked like after the first coat…

One coat of gesso

And here’s me being silly while I was working on them:

Me being silly with a paintbrush

So I lost count of how many coats it took me. It was at least 3-4. For these two large canvases (plus one other small one that I primed at the same time but haven’t painted yet) it took me about 1 1/2 bottles of gesso. And they would not have been ready to just paint from where I got them. They would have needed a solid coat of white to be fully prepped. I wanted a grey background for my art, so I used that to finish prepping and covering the old art. I literally used an old paint sample of grey paint that was sitting with all my house paint. Jackson Pollock used house paint all the time in his work because he was poor and no one could tell the difference. And while I’m no Jackson Pollock, I do appreciate his sense of utility. For the other colors, I used acrylic colors from Dick Blick in black, white, and dark indigo blue. I did the painting in layers from dark to light, finishing with white which I watered down and mixed to make it really runny and splattery.

I listened to a lot of Alt-J while I was making these, and I definitely took out some built up aggression from the current USA political climate. I also did a couple of subliminal messages – especially in the black, I created abstract versions of a couple of meaningful shapes that spoke to me. Because I can’t really draw anything to save my life, it was really freeing to me to know that however it came out, was how it was supposed to be. I also worked hard to make the paint go generally all over the canvas and not leave any bare spots.

Completed canvases

Finally, I got the pieces dry and threw them up on a very large, bare wall in my basement. They… really tie the room together.

Finished artwork hanging on the wall


Waiting for Asparagus

If you haven’t yet read Barbara Kingsolver’s foray into nonfiction, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life then unfortunately, you’re missing an intellectually delicious soul-quenching treat. Because Kingsolver’s day job is as a novelist, this is more than your average nonfiction ode to food. Her prose rises to the level of the highest quality literary fiction. Continue reading “Waiting for Asparagus”


Spring has sprung here in Iowa in many ways. I’m starting to think about our garden (and Doc planted some radishes and onions already), our bikes have made their way out of storage for the inevitable and somewhat painful first ride of the season, and I’m starting to think about casting on new knitting projects.

My eyes continue to be bigger than my stomach in this department. I wasn’t able to complete a pair of socks in April despite being practically monogamous with the project. Nevertheless, the urge to start something new is great.

Several patterns have my eye, and many of them seem to be shawls. I’m considering Canopy because I have had some Road to China Light languishing in my stash for far too long.

canopy shawl knitting pattern

Continue reading “Planning”

Books for Knitters

Over the years I’ve come into contact with a LOT of books about knitting. Often the plots are pretty similar (and I’m sure you can find this plot within many other “hobby” subgenres – quilting, weaving, heck I’ve even seen titles related to crossword puzzles…)

It starts with a woman, usually middle-aged or better, who’s had a major life change. (Husband dying suddenly seems to be the most common…) Usually the husband has left the woman financially insolvent in some way and she has to open a yarn shop somewhere to stay afloat, and of course, in doing so, finds a part of herself she never knew (and usually a new, handsome man, to boot).

Now, just because there are cliches, doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy curling up and having a little entertainment in my reading. And titles several stray from the path of this basic plot. Plus, there are many nonfiction options that go in a completely different direction. Here are a few options – starting with those nonfiction choices. Continue reading “Books for Knitters”