How to Make Graphic Patterned Outdoor Artwork

Spruce up your porch or patio with artwork that stands up to the elements.

The line between indoor and outdoor living is becoming more and more blurred. Adding artwork to your outdoor living space can be a problem if the artwork cannot withstand the natural elements. By creating your own artwork and finishing it with the appropriate sealant, you can add a punch of color and style that blends seamlessly with your overall outdoor look.

Tools and Materials

  • 2'x4' plywood, 1/2" thick
  • 3/4" adhesive-backed wood veneer
  • iron
  • scissors
  • craft knife
  • sander and fine-grit sandpaper
  • sewing ruler or protractor
  • pencil
  • 2 rolls of 1" painter's tape
  • 1 roll of 1-1/2" painter's tape
  • acrylic paint, 1 base color and 2 accent colors
  • small artist’s paintbrush
  • clear spar varnish for marine or outdoor use
  • smooth roller
  • (2) D-rings

Step 1: Prep Board

Cut a length of wood veneer for each 1/2" side of the board. The lengths should be about an inch longer than the side where it will be applied. Using an iron on a high setting, press the veneer in place following the manufacturer’s instructions (Image 1). Allow the veneer to extend beyond each of the edges where it is being applied. When the veneer has adhered and is cool, cut away the excess at each end. Repeat for remaining pieces of veneer.
Use a craft knife to trim away the excess veneer on the front and back of the board (Image 2). Press the blade of the knife against the surface of the wood to make the veneer level with the surface of the board. Sand the entire surface, including the veneer, and all of the edges to smooth them out just a bit (Image 3). Wipe the board with a tack cloth or lightly damp paper towel to remove any sawdust.

Step 2: Create Pattern

Use a sewing ruler or protractor to draw a line to the left at 60˚ to the bottom of the board (Image 1). Start the line at the bottom of the board, 13" from the left side. Attach one piece of 1-1/2" painter's tape to the board with the left side of the strip against the pencil line. Draw another line to the right at 60˚ to the bottom of the board starting at the point where the right side of the tape you added meets the bottom of the board. Add a piece of 1-1/2" tape with the left side of the tape against the second line. Your tape should create a V (Image 2). Starting with the tape on the left side of the board, begin adding strips of 1" tape on both sides of the 1-1/2" tape, with the edges of the tape butted up against the previous piece of tape. Add nine strips of 1" tape before adding another strip of 1-1/2" tape. Repeat the process until the entire board is covered. Remove the 1-1/2" pieces of tape (except the one pointed in the other direction. Leave all of the 1" pieces of tape that are now next to a 1-1/2" space in place, but remove every second piece in between, making stripes (Image 3). Repeat this process in the opposite direction using the 1-1/2 piece of tape that you laid at the beginning.
Next, use a craft knife and a ruler to cut away any pieces of 1" tape that cross one of the 1-1/2" gaps. The result should be diamond grids (Image 4). Inside each of the grids, cut away the tape to create three inverted V shapes and one diamond at the bottom (Image 5). Lastly, press all of the tape edges to the board again to prevent the paint from bleeding underneath it.

Step 3: Paint Pattern

Determine which two arrowhead patterns will be painted in the accent colors and paint those first using a small paintbrush. The remaining untaped spaces should be filled with the base color (Image 1). Allow the paint to dry completely, then remove the painter’s tape. Slowly roll spar varnish over the front and side edges of the board (Image 2). When dry, apply a coat of spar varnish to the back of the board. Allow to the board to dry completely before hanging or standing artwork outdoors.

Step 4: Add Hanging Hardware

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Attach two D-rings on the back of your artwork and hang it proudly.

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