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How to Create the Armadillo and the Manatee Canvas Banner

Select playful images to paint your own armadillo and manatee wall hanging.

Annina Luck of Baltimore, Md., discovered her artistic talents while waiting tables. She felt the terra cotta pots in the Mexican restaurant where she was working were in desperate need of a little pizzazz. With no formal training, she picked up a brush and some paints and before she knew it, she had finished the pots and moved on to the restaurant walls. Her skills have since expanded to include vibrant and playful floor cloths and canvas banners.

Materials and Tools:

7 oz. primed cotton canvas
3/8" x 36" dowel
16" x 20" piece of cardboard (or foam core)
small saw
1" grosgrain ribbon
plastic see-through ruler
tracing paper
pencils and eraser
acrylic paints and brushes
sewing machine with white thread
work surface - bigger piece of cardboard, wood or foam-core
aluminum foil
high-gloss polyurethane varnish
enamel or metallic paint
black permanent magic marker, bullet point
dust mask


1. Place a 16" x 20" piece of cardboard on the canvas and trace around the cardboard. Cut out the canvas. Mark 1/2 inch from the edge on all sides with a see-through ruler and pencil. Fold the canvas toward the back along this line.

2. Hem the canvas by machine stitching down the folded edges. Miter each corner by folding a triangle back, then folding each side toward the back. Cut two ribbon loops 4 inches long for the dowel to slide through. Fold the ribbons in half. Position them at the top of the canvas, 2 inches in from each side and sew the ribbons onto the canvas.

3. Select two or three animal pictures or draw your own designs. This project includes an armadillo playing a piano and a manatee playing a French horn set against a theater stage background with curtains and a checkerboard floor.

  • Trace the selected pictures.
  • Copy the images onto tag-board and check the size with the canvas.
  • Reduce or enlarge the images as needed.
  • Trace the appropriate size images onto tag-board and cut out the stencils.

4. Place the stencils on the canvas and trace them with a pencil. Add details — swirls were added to the piano, flowers were drawn on the curtains and the floor was decorated with a checkerboard design.

5. Paint the canvas the colors indicated in the final picture or as desired. Let it dry. Note: Set up a palette by putting aluminum foil over a plate. Cover the plate with more foil if you don't finish the painting in one sitting.

6. Apply a thick coat of polyurethane varnish over the canvas. Let dry overnight. Wear a dust mask as desired.

7. Outline all the details with a black permanent marker. For extra gloss and protection, apply another layer of polyurethane.

8. Measure the dowel to about 2 inches longer than the width of the banner. One inch will extend beyond the banner on each side. Saw off the end and sand the edges. Paint the dowel with enamel or metallic paint. Let dry.

9. Slide the dowel through the ribbon loops and hang your armadillo and manatee canvas banner.

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