A Magnolia Blooms in November! (Tutorial for a Project to do with Your Kids!)

Today was the first day in a long time that the kids and I didn’t have a schedule to keep.  That usually makes for a crazy, disorganized, kind of all-over-the-place day; but today I had a plan!  Actually, I’ve had this project in my mind for months now.

Since moving in our house almost eight years ago, we have been doing nothing but home improvements.  The latest major thing my husband built was a gate across our driveway.  He is awesome and let my imagination guide the construction of the gate.  I really wanted it painted black and a certain shape.

Matt delivered, as usual:

Inside view of our driveway gate.  It's like a blank canvas that keeps calling my name!
Inside view of our driveway gate. It’s like a blank canvas that keeps calling my name!

Literally the day I saw it finished and painted black, I came up w/ a mural for the inside of it.  This side isn’t as showy and pretty as the side that you see when you pull up to the house, which is fine.  But the sharp contrast of the black against the natural fencing had me immediately thinking of an all silver/white, whimsical winter theme.  I actually drew it out in chalk and everything.  (You can still see some of my chalk lines in the picture.) It was awesome!  I had a large tree to one side that had no leaves left on it, the moon, and the silhouette of some snow-covered evergreens on a distant hill.   And then I thought of my kids’ handprints as the leaves on the bare tree in the foreground.  Triple 9-1-1 level awesome!

I was ready to buy the paint and had my chalk lines all finished when Mr. Realistic (Matt) said that trees lose their leaves in fall and are bare in winter and that wouldn’t make sense as a mural.  He was right, technically.  But what about imagination?  Why can’t I imagine a winter wonderland on the inside of my driveway gate every time it’s closed? Why does a painting have to make logical sense?

Well, you know how that goes — you pick your battles.  This wasn’t one I really had to drag on.  Instead, I decided to dress up our bare walls w/ some homemade art.  This way I could have my painting that was nature-inspired and also sneakily pause a moment in my children’s childhood.

I looked out my window at the pile of leaves beneath my naked Magnolia today that had been so glorious just a couple of months ago.  Inspiration complete!

Here’s what we got for supplies:

A 24 x 36 canvas

(*I did one shade for each child and then an extra for the leaves I painted.)

Assorted size paint brushes

(*You can also use colored pencils to sketch out placement of your entire picture if you want to have more control.)

And then it was time to create!

In case you want to try something like this, too, here are all the steps.

First you outline your base of the trunk, like this:

Base of trunk drawn in colored pencil.
Base of trunk drawn in colored pencil.

(I know that’s really hard to see.  Sorry.)

Then you want to designate an area around your tree where you want the leaves to reside.  (I won’t attach that pic, because it’s not much better than the one above.)

Now you select a color for each child and get them dipping their hands in.

Here’s a shot of my kids’ work:

Handprints in designated area.
Handprints in designated area.

Now you can color in some of your trunk or your base, if you want.

Adding in detail of the trunk.
Adding in detail of the trunk.

Then you can start adding in your painted leaves in the other shade of green, if you’d like.  It gives it more dimension.

Adding in painted leaves in different shade of green.
Adding in painted leaves in different shade of green.

Next, I added in still more leaves and some little flecks of the pretty pink/magenta color that reminds me so much of my magnolias.

Here come the magnolias!
Here come the magnolias!

Because Matt is from Oregon and the sky is always gray there, I chose a nice, warm gray color for the background.  (I purposely didn’t paint the whole canvas this color first and then paint on top because I wanted more of this “pop,” or storybook kind of look for this painting.) I kind of just filled in the edges w/ it.

In addition to that, I had each child dip their thumb into their paint color and put their print on the lower right corner of the painting.  Later, I added their names.  Just a cute sentimental thing for me, I guess.  I don’t know, I think I really love it.

So here it is:

A Magnolia Blooms in November!
A Magnolia Blooms in November!

In reality, there’s no doubt about it that I’m not a trained artist; but in my mind, I think I’d pay a million dollars for the experience we had today making this!

Now to find the perfect place in the house to showcase it!



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