Paige Hemmis’ DIY Lighted Christmas Decoration


  • A blank canvas (in the size of your choosing)
  • A string of little white Christmas lights 
  • Painter's acrylic in desired colors (we are using red, yellow and green)
  • Painter's glaze (sometimes called "medium" which makes the paint a little more forgiving
  • A nail, screw or awl to make holes in the canvas for the lights to pop out
  • Strong tape to hold the lights in on the backside of the canvas
  • Vinyl, Plastic or Rubber Gloves for the "finger painting" method”
  • You can use a paper plate as your palette to hold the colors of paint
  • Drop cloth & water for easy clean up


  1. Get any sized canvas that you like. This can be a regular or super-duty canvas; we chose 24"x30".
  2. With gloves on, grab some paint with your hands. Paint the background color red around the perimeter of your canvas with acrylic paint mixed with Artist's Glaze (so that it's a bit more moveable). Each paint is different, so your addition of glaze will be arbitrary. Just make sure the consistency is smooth enough to smear with your hands, but not so liquid that it doesn’t stay on the canvass on its own.
  3. You do not need to let the color dry before the next step. With your hands, add yellow acrylic paint to the inner perimeter of your canvas. It's ok if the colors touch and even bleed a little. You can do this in a circular motion, or a straight side-to-side motion.
  4. Take a clean, damp rag and wipe away about a finger-sized width (with a rag on your finger will come out to about a 1- 1 1/2" gap) in two places...the middle of the red and the middle of the yellow.
  5. Take your hand and slide the base of your hand from the inner, clean center of your canvas through the yellow, straight through to the red all the way around, to give it a "glow" look. You can do this a few times until you like the glow you have created.
  6. Take a clean, damp rag and rub out a star (to reveal white canvas below). Place this near the top as it will be the topper to your Christmas tree.
  7. Take your green acrylic paint and start making a Christmas tree shape in the middle of the painting, below the star. Fill it in with any kind of strokes that you would like. It's ok to use your fingers to make designs in the paint.
  8. Get creative with your painting technique. Since we've added Artist's Glaze to the paint, you will have more time than normal to play with your colors since it's won't dry as fast as normal acrylic paint. You can mix colors; create "branches" in your tree.
  9. Let your painting dry. Remember this will take longer than usual. To be sure, let dry overnight.
  10. Once it's completely dry, you will make holes throughout the painting for your string of twinkle lights. You can place these holes wherever you would like. You can do this with a nail, or a screw, or an awl (it's like a little hole punch) a pinch, you could even use a fine-tipped pen. Do NOT use a knife to cut your canvas. This will leave slits in your canvas, instead of holes, and your lights will not sit straight, and the weight could rip the canvas more over time. I used a drywall screw to make holes.
  11. Turn your painting over and start inserting your lights (make sure your lights work before this process!)
  12. Use any kind of tape (blue painter's tape, gaff tape, packing tape, duct tape) to tape the wires of your light against the back of the canvas. This will hold the lights in place.
  13. If you have a long string of lights leftover, you can arrange them on the back to loop all the way around the outside, or light the's up to you! I will wrap mine along the inner edge of my canvas, which will give it a soft, lit look.
  14. Plug in your sign and set it wherever you would like to in the house. You can hang it on a wall, set it on the mantle, set it on a shelf, etc.

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