Teen Program: Canvas Art

The 4-1-1:

When: July 15th & 16th, 5:00 – 7:00pm
Resources: DIY Quotes on Canvas
How many teens: 20 teens; 4 teens @ Main, 16 teens @ Branch
Cost/Supplies: aprox $15

  • Vinyl Letters (2 packs): $12
  • Painters Tape: $3
  • Canvas: Donated by Madison Art Shop as a summer reading sponsor (I highly recommend them as they have amazing prices, products, and customer service.)
  • Magazines: I just used old discards
  • Paint/paint brushes; already had
  • Glue; already had
  • Scissors; already had

The run-down:

I basically ran this program the same at each location. On each table, I put a variety of the different supplies out. I told the teens they may have to go to other tables to get different magazines/colors. As the teens came in, I gave them a canvas and explained the process. I tried to tell them to focus more on colors then the image since they wouldn’t see the whole thing at the end. I also told them to be random as those would create the best collages.

The basic steps are easy:

  • Cut out your magazine pieces
  • Glue pieces onto canvas
  • Create your design using the letters or painters tape
  • Paint entire project
  • Peel off lettering/painters tape.

Once they understood the process, I basically stayed out of the way. I would check on each table and offer help, but I let them design their art as they wished. I did give them tips such as make sure the edges are all laying flat and let the paint/glue dry a little more to ensure their project would be the best possible. We ran in a few glitches here and there, but overall it as quite a successful project

Take-away/lessons learned:

  • Consider making this a two day project. We had problems with glue/paint in time for most. I thought two hours would be plenty, but they spent a lot of time picking the “perfect” magazine parts to tear out. I would say they easily spent an hour just on this part.

  • Use Modge Podge. I know it’s expensive, I know. It’s the reason why I didn’t use it, but school glue doesn’t dry as fast as modge podge.

  • Have fans! They help a little with the drying process. I only had a little one, but a bigger one would have sped the process up considerably.

  • Expect teens to not listen/not follow directions. This was especially true with my boys as none of them let their projects dry long enough and then ruined them. I can’t even blame it on age as my high school juniors were just as bad as my 7th graders!

  • Explore different choices of paint. I used tempera, but I noticed that it didn’t flake off in a couple of spots; both on my samples and the teens’ projects. I’m not sure of acrylic would be any better, but it would be worth a shot. Or use the spray paint like the original source used. I’m not sure I trust my teens with spray paint, but yours may be more responsible than mine.

  • Use a plastic tablecloth. I’ve said this before and forget myself, but oh man, the amount of paint on the tables was ridiculous! And the magazine scraps. Pulling up a tablecloth and throwing it all away would have been a thousand times easier!


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