creating large paintings full of text

Whenever I post photos of my living room (like I did earlier this week here) I get lots of inquiries about the painting that hangs above our couch. So I thought I would share a little bit about the process.


When it comes to art hanging on the wall in our home you might be surprised to hear that I like clean and simple lines, almost minimal but big, very big statement pieces. Since I spend a lot of time creating and teaching messy techniques full of layers and drips I think when it comes to my living space I need a break and want something simple for my eyes :)

Our living room is all white with accents of color and those accents (typically pillows and rugs) have changed over time.

When we renovated and moved into our home three years ago I decided I wanted a really large canvas as a statement piece to hang over our couch with text being the subject matter. In my opinion, words, letters and text can be so beautiful and interesting as the focal point of a painting and often can stand alone.

We selected out favorite E.E. Cummings poem and I used raw and unstretched canvas that I first primed with white house paint (I often use this in place of gesso). I let it dry and then went to town writing out the poem- and believe or not I used black shoe polish to write with- one of my favorite supplies when working and writing on canvas to get nice lettering.


I let some of the words continue off the edges so that is wasn't too perfect but more gave the illusion and spirit of poem.

The last step was to stretch it onto a frame to hang on the wall.
Instead of using stretcher bars, my husband created a really nice wood frame for me stretch my painting on.

Since creating this painting, I get more requests from friends and family for something similar for their walls so I have created numerous text paintings on paper, canvas and even wood (see above) with poems, quotes and lyrics.


The key (in my opinion) to a statement painting with lettering is going big and the bigger the better!
So I thought I would include an excerpt from a video lesson for my Graffiti Chic Part 2 online class (much of the class is all about working really large). In the video I talk about different surfaces and options when starting to work big- it will give you a little more behind how that painting in the living room was created and other options when creating a statement piece.

large surfaces from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.

And for those of you that are not aware of how to stretch a canvas I have included a section from my book Canvas Remix where I stretch a small canvas- but stretching a large one is done the same way :)


IMG_1799 go create something large!
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