Monday, October 28, 2013

Painting for Peanuts: A Harvest Festival Cut-Out Board

Happy Halloween!

Nothing makes a party quite like a character cutout board. Sticking your head through a wooden mural to become someone else is especially advantageous for Halloween - instant costume! My friend Erin had the brilliant idea of making a Peanuts themed one of these for the harvest festival her church was hosting this year, but she needed a little help pulling it off. Hmm, did I hear someone say project? I'm in!

Tabula Rasa

From the very start, our materials for this project came together quite nicely. For instance, our canvas was actually the back of an 8' x 4' wooden board used previously by the church for a sign. For our purposes, we simply flipped it over and got to work sketching out our ideas on the back.

You're a good reference, Charlie Brown.

As for the art, we chose to paint the famed cast of Peanuts by Charles Schulz chilling in a pumpkin patch. Specifically, we had Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Sally and Linus (complete with blanket), as they were all recognizable and big in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." We made reference of some Peanuts art so we could mimic the style for our large-scale reproduction.

(The little sweeper was used to dust off all the footprints. Apparently our canvas also doubled as someone's floor mat at some point.)

Out of line!

Once we were confident enough in our pencil sketches, we went over our lines again with felt tip marker so we could better stay within the lines while painting. At this point, we also drew lighter ovals outlining where the cutouts for people's faces would go.

Who knew Linus had plastic surgery? Or wooden surgery, that is.

Time to bust out the big guns, a.k.a. the power tools! Erin's dad, Mark, helped out in a big way when it came to the woodworking aspect of this project. After drilling starter holes in each oval (which looked eerily like alien eyes...), he sawed out space for faces in no time.

Holy cutout board, Charlie Brown!

With the holes done, we took to reinforcing the structural integrity of the board. A few supplementary boards attached as a framework to the backside helped to keep the board from warping in any direction. 


Next up was making the board stand up on its own. Up until now, we'd been either leaning it up against a car or propping it up ourselves. With the addition of these handy dandy feet, we were able to paint freely!

Color me grateful!

Our acquisition of the paint was a wonderful case of serendipity. We already had some basic colors like black and white from Erin's crafty mom, Delinda (thanks, Delinda!), but still needed some more colorful colors. 

Just after we started the project, though, I heard my neighbor discussing how she had a surplus of old paint she wanted to get rid of. How handy, thought I, we need paint! And so it was that my wonderful neighbor donated over a dozen cans to our cause. Thank you, Candi!

Paint by Numbers - Supersized!

To start the painting, we made sure to get the lightest colors down first. In this case it was the white of Snoopy's fur and Charlie Brown, Sally and Linus' skin tones. We also used white as a base coat for the lighter colors to come. No need for the dirt to show through!

Quick Tip: Even though we were painting outdoors, we still lay down some old shower curtains to spare the driveway further abuse. It worked great and was a good show of recycling!

Painting in Progress

The array of paint colors we got from my neighbor could not have been better. With the exception of the navy blue we concocted for the night sky using cerulean and slate, every other shade was spot on right out of the can. Amazing!

The painters are in!

A great thing about having such a big project as this, was that we almost never had to wait for something to dry. Even with two painters going at it, by the time we were done with coat #1 across the board, the paint where we had started was already dry and ready for coat #2. The fact that we were painting outdoors helped with that, and kept the paint fumes to a minimum. Huzzah for ventilation!

Almost there!

It's always exciting when a project starts to come together, and you can see a glimpse of its future glory. This was about the moment for this one. Excitement kept us going strong!

Snoopy says, "Hug me!"

Once all the basic painting was done, it was time to add the black outlines typical of the Peanuts comic strip/cartoons. An added bonus for this style of art is that it's supposed to look hand drawn, so imperfections and all, freehanding it worked great! 

Time to smooth out those fine lines.

Unfortunately, we got so excited to paint that we accidentally skipped a step that would have been helpful earlier on: sanding down the face holes. We didn't want kids and folk to get splinters in their chins or anything, so we figured better late than never. In the spirit of teamwork, Ben even came by to help out as our resident sandman!

Done... for now!

This project couldn't have been a success without all the wonderful teamwork that went into it. Thank you, Candi and Delinda, for your (paint) coats of many colors! Thank you, Ben and Mark, for your painting skills and craftsmanship! And of course a huge thanks to Erin for the brilliant idea, instigation, supplies, sustenance, painting, woodworking, and pretty much everything else! 

Now I wonder what we can paint on the other side...!

For more festive autumnal time blogs, check out the Foxy Jack-o-Lantern & Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, the recipe for Pumpkindoodles, more than a decade's worth of Halloween Costume Art and the latest installment, Halloween 2016: Costume pARTy!


  1. This is amazing! How many days did this project take?

    1. Thank you! We did this one over the course of several weekends, so probably about 4 to 5 days altogether. It's pretty fast and easy with a team! :)

  2. Wow your foto cut out came out so good! Is there any advise on the building of the stand? Im going to start mine this week, and was curious on how to build the stand part.

    1. Thank you! I think having strong, sturdy wood and a snug fit between the board and the stand really helps support-wise. I hope your cut-out board turned out well!

  3. do you remember what color you used for their skin tone?

    1. Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, as we got most of our paints secondhand, I don't know the exact name or composition of the skin tone paint. If you bring a sample of the color you like to a local paint store, they can probably mix it for you!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for your interest, but this project was actually donated to the church that was hosting the harvest festival! It's a fun project to build though, if you want to try making one yourself!

  5. I am having a hard time finding someone to tell me what size to make the oval for the faces.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I don't recall the exact measurement, but to make the shape, we drew an oval on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper roughly the size of our own faces, plus a little extra so there would be plenty of space in the final project. Then we cut this out and used it as a template cutting the wood. Best of luck!