Negative Painting...and MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!!!

This post has the potential to be my longest, wordiest post to date.  I am so insanely excited to share my discovery with you.  It's going to revolutionize your crafting life.  Seriously.  It will.  

I'm going to try my very best not to over-explain, over-photograph every little step and detail...because honestly, I don't have four hours to write this all out.

Just promise me that if I lose you somewhere...if you're completely confused about something, you'll just shoot me a message.  Promise? goes.

So.....I've been wanting to try this "negative painting" thing for quite a while now.  (I think that's what it's know, painting on top of another painting?...anywhoo...that's what I'm going to call it...and by the end of my post, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.)   However, all the tutorials that I see for this method call for using self-adhesive vinyl letters.  Two problems I have with that--they are expensive!!!  Really, peeps, have you priced these things out?!?!  I bought one teeny, tiny package of 1" letters...plain, old letters, nothing fancy...$2.99!!!  Now, I know three dollars isn't going to break the bank, but that's just for the 1" letters...they go up from there.  If you want 4" or 6" letters, they were upwards of $9.99.  Not cool.  Not cool at all in my book.  Especially considering that if the phrase you want to use needs more than one "W", you've got to buy multiple packages!  Me no likey.

That's problem number one.  Number two--you're stuck with exactly two boring fonts that the big craft stores offer.  I like options.  Lots and lots and lots of options.  Two?  Not enough.  No way.  

I've been wracking my brain, knowing that somewhere out there, there has got to be a better way of doing this.  

And then!......then, Pinterest!  Now, let me say here, I am not a huge pinner.  Because of my crafty, thrifty, make-over-y side, my friends are always asking me if I'm on Pinterest.  I am.  But I only ever go on there if I am looking for a very specific idea. Otherwise, their site just completely overwhelms me.  It's like sensory overload.  I just can't handle all.those.ideas.  It's like how a kid gets cranky in a candy store because he wants one piece--of every.single.kind.  That's me.  I get cranky when I go on Pinterest, because I want to do one project--of every.single.kind.  And I know that never in a million years will I have enough time to finish the projects I already had in my head.  Anyway...I digress...

I went on Pinterest and searched "negative painting"...and weeded through many, many, many links that were not what I was looking for.  And then...then I found this pin.  Now mind you, the tree idea is incredibly awesome, but it is nothing like what I wanted to do.  However, this pin gave me theee exact piece of information I had been searching for.  It gave me the missing puzzle piece.  

I.  Was.  Ecstatic.  To say the least.

How do you go from this....
to this?......
Easy-peasy...and I'll tell you concisely as I possibly can.  And I'm also gonna keep it real.  Really real.  Like, I'm gonna show you my epic fail of a project.  And you'll learn from my mistake.  Trust me.  It'll save you lots of time.  And energy.  And hand cramps.

First, go to your nearest thrift store. Grab yerself a painting.  It doesn't have to be anything special.  In fact, it's better if it isn't.  You are definitely going to alter this painting, so it's best if you aren't in love with it as-is.  

Grab a painting.  Then grab a roll of adhesive drawer liner (otherwise known as Contact Paper).  The contact paper can be any color/pattern imaginable...doesn't matter.  I got lucky, my GW has quite a stash of old rolls of contact paper.  If yours doesn't, then just fork out the extra few dollars and grab yourself a roll from WallyWorld.  The generic stuff is fine.  No need to get all fancy-schmancy here.

Now you've got your painting and your contact paper.  Gay-ron-teee you that contact paper cost you waaaaaayyy less than those self-adhesive vinyl letters.  Your painting AND the contact paper probably cost you less than the letters you'd need.

Hopefully by now, you know what word or phrase you'd like to use.  I kind of let the thrifted painting dictate the direction of my word/phrase ideas.  One-word projects are very easy.  I'd suggest a one-word project for your first.  It won't be your last.  Trust me.  Once you see how easy this is, and how many options you have, you're going to want to do this over and over and over again.  No tacky painting within 100 miles of you will be safe. 

Go on your handy-dandy computer and type out your word.  Then make it as large as you can (my computer will only go up to 72pt).  If your computer has the ability to make the letters gigantically large, well, that's even better.  You can skip the copier step that comes after this.  I also like to make my letters bold, as the wider the letters are, the more of the original painting that will show through.   Then print off your word backwards.  I had no idea how to do this, so I Googled it.  And then I explored a bit.  
On my computer (it's a MacBook), when I print from Word, this is the box that pops up (photo #1).  I selected "Copies & Pages" and then from there selected "Layout"...clicked the "Flip horizontally" box and Viola! did what I needed it to do.  I am very computer illiterate.  If I figured this out, I am positive that anyone can.

UPDATE!!!  One of my Instagram (and real life) besties (@rnshuler) just helped me...turns out MY computer WILL allow me to make my letters as big as my little heart desires!!!  I am SO thrilled!  If only I had a tacky painting laying wouldn't stand a chance right now!  Just be sure to print in light grey (if you can) to save on ink (learned that tip from @littlebitfunky).

I then took my backwards "EAT" and enlarged it on my copier.  Thankfully, my printer is a copy/scan/print all-in-one, so I was able to do this at home.  I enlarged it until it took up as much space  as I wanted it to on my painting.  This will take some fiddling on your part...don't be afraid to cut the word apart if you're trying to make the letters quite large.  By the end of this process, my E, A, and T were three separate pages--that's how much I enlarged them.

Cut a rough outline around your letters.  You're not trying to cut them out precisely here, just trying to eliminate a ton of contact paper waste.  Then glue your letters onto the back of the contact paper.  I used spray glue because I had it on hand.  It is very convenient and dries almost instantly.

Cut out your letters.  For large letters like the "EAT" project, I just used regular scissors.  For more intricate projects like the others you'll see, I used tiny manicure scissors.  Use whatever you like, just get the job done well.

Once your letters are cut out, lay them out on your painting (you're just laying them out here, not sticking them down).  Notice that I didn't center "EAT" vertically.  I wanted it to be placed on the painting where the maximum amount of the "subject" of the original painting would show through.  Figure out exactly where you want your letters and draw a straight line to help you mount them evenly.  I also like to measure side-to-side for a center point.  I count the letters (and spaces if more than one word is used) to determine what should be closest to center and I work outward from there. (meaning, I lay down my center letter first, and then work in either direction--make sense?)  Once you've got that all figured out, peel off the protective backing and stick your letters down for good.

Here's where the process can get a little tricky.  If your painting has a super-smooth surface, your letters will stick very well around the edges, giving you clean, sharp lines along the edges.  If your painting has more of a "bumpy" surface finish, then the edges probably won't stick quite as well.  If you look above (near the top of the post) at the finished photo of my "EAT" project, you'll see what I mean.  Personally, I kind of fell in love with the effect it gave the letters...I think it goes perfectly with the style of that painting.  I'm just warning you, don't expect perfection and don't beat yourself up...if your painting is not ultra-smooth, your results may be just a tad less than perfectly crisp.  Roll with it.  It still looks awesome.

Press the letters down as firmly as you can.  Run the back of your fingernail along the edges to smooth them.  If the painting is stretched over canvas, turn it over, lay it down, and rub firmly along the back, pressing hard...the heat from your hands helps the adhesive to adhere to the painting.

Then, using a wide, dry (no water) paint brush, paint in even strokes across the surface of your painting.  Use little paint on the brush, and wipe it often with a barely-damp cloth.  This is for the see-through effect.  If you want your original painting completely covered (other than the letters, of course), then by all means, apply your paint liberally.  Keep in mind as you paint, that you want to work somewhat gingerly around your letters.  Especially on a "bumpy" painting, the more careful you are around your letter edges, the better chance you stand of somewhat clean lines.

Aaargh!!! I almost completely forgot the topic of paint color.  This is important.  More important than you may think.  You MUST be sure to choose a paint color that contrasts enough with your original painting.  If your painting has an overall light appearance, choose a dark contrasting paint, and vice versa.  This is VERY important.  More on this the "keeping it real" part.

As the paint is applied rather thinly, it dries very quickly.  Once it's dry to the touch (5-10 minutes), you can carefully peel off your letters.  I like to use a fine pin or needle to help me get an edge to peel on the sticky letters.  The paint that is on the actual letters may still be wet, so be careful not to transfer any paint from the peeled letters or from your fingers on to the painting. 

Now!...stand back and admire your handiwork!!!  And if it isn't exactly how you had planned, remember, you've only got 99¢ invested in that roll of contact've got many, many more paintings to practice on to perfect your method. 

Yesterday, I did this one and I thought it was going to turn out so.stinkin.good.  And then...  Wow.  It did not live up to my hopes and expectations.  Remember what I said about choosing a paint color that contrasts enough?  Right.  Now you see why.  I should have chosen a much darker, brighter color as my contrast color.  Lesson learned.  Move on.

And then I did these last night☟☟☟

I am very pleased with how these turned out.  They started out as cheap little craft store "paintings" (that I nabbed at GW, of course).  They had that shiny, brand-new finish on them, so I sanded them a bit just to rough them up.  Not sure if this step was necessary, but I figured it wouldn't hurt anything.  Since the first painting was both dark (red) and light (pale green with white polka dots), I made sure to choose a color that was both dark enough to contrast with the light and different enough to contrast with the dark.  This shade of turquoise ended up being perfect.  On the second painting (the one with the pale green background), I started out just using red paint.  However, that blended in a bit too much near the letters because of the red roses on the cup.  I added some streaks of the turquoise and that was just what it needed.

Have fun with these projects. You are doing it extremely inexpensively.  When my "EAT" came out with fuzzy edges, and my "awesome wonder" fell far short, I refused to let myself get upset.  I reminded myself several times that this was all a learning process and that once I figured it out, I'd have a broad knowledge of what worked...and what didn't.
And now!!!...{{{drumroll please}}}
My first-ever giveaway!!!
I'd like to send these paintings to YOU!!!  There will be TWO lucky will receive the "EAT" painting...the other will receive the "Tea Time" duet (first winner gets first choice)!!!  There are five ways to enter:
1. Become a follower of this blog...and leave a comment on this post telling me you did so! (if you're already a follower, then just leave a me a nice comment telling me how smart and beautiful I am....and then beg forgiveness for lying.)
2. Share the link to this post on your Facebook page...and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.
3. Pin this post on your Pinterest...and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.
4. Tweet this post, tag me in your tweet (tweeetpotatopie--notice there's an extra "e" in my Twitter ID)...and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.
5. Share this post on Instagram (your choice of how you do so), tag me in your post (@tweetpotatopie)...and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

Remember...when it comes time to draw, I'm only going to refer back to this be sure to leave comments here each time you enter!  All entries must be made by 8:00 a.m. next Thursday, September 6th.  Winners (there will be TWO, remember?!?) will be announced on Friday the 7th. (shipping only within the U.S....I apologize to any international readers.)

Yay!!!!  I LOVE giving things away! Spread the news! This will be so much fun!  



  1. I may be an international reader but I have a US address! LOL! I love this idea! I am so like you...hate spending so much in those letters. I had to buy them all the time for bulletin boards for school. This is a wonderful discovery!

  2. What fun! Your project turned out so cute! And how fun that you're doing a give-away! Look at you getting all fancy schmancy ;)

  3. Love are so crafty! Shared on facebook. Every time I read your blogs, I can almost hear you talking to me.

  4. By the way, you are smart and beautiful. And I'm not lying. I want to be like you when I grow up!

  5. Are we supposed to leave a separate comment for each? I pinned your post!

  6. I followed the blog, shared on FB, pinned & tweeted - I just didn't do the Instagram.

  7. How fun! Your projects turned out so great! And what fun that you're doing a give-away already!

  8. I sent a link to my facebook page!

  9. I started following your blog:)

  10. Replies
    1. Erin...
      It's not showing you as a follower?

  11. I follow you on IG but now I'm following here :)

  12. Replies
    1. Becky!!! You were the first winner!
      Get with me as soon as you can and let me know whether you'd like the
      "EAT" painting...or the "Tea Time Duet".

      Thanks for playing along!

  13. Replies
    1. simplymama!
      Your number was the second one drawn!
      Email me please (my addy is on my "Contact Me" page...
      I'll get in touch with you as soon as Becky has made her choice.

      Thanks for playing along!

    2. simplymama!
      Becky chose the "Tea Time Duet" so the "EAT" painting is yours!
      Email me at with your address and I'll get this out to you this week.



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