DIY Painted Canvas Backdrop | Mikaela Joy: Savannah Portrait Photographer

I've been busy making things again!

I'm a DIY kind of girl.  I look at things I like and my first thought is often to figure out how to make it.  Paired with my fix-anything husband, we are able to create just about anything we want/need.

My latest project was to make a DIY Oliphant style backdrop. 

Oliphant backdrops are the thing to have in portrait photography.  Annie Leibovitz is known for using them in much of her fashion work, and many other famous photographers and big productions utilize them regularly.  They are hand painted, beautiful, and very expensive.  A three day rental alone with cost you in the triple digits.  I'm determined that I will own one someday, but until then I plan to do my best to make my own.  Armed with online inspiration from Sue Bryce who is the queen of DIY studio backdrops, I decided to go for it.

The Materials

  • 9x12 Canvas Dropcloth
  • 1 gallon of main color paint (I chose a dark grey)
  • 1 quart of each accent color (I used light grey, a peachy gold, and a green grey)
  • paintbrushes
  • roller
  • Socks or old rags (I used these to create texture)
  • A bowl to hold water
  • Plastic sheeting (for underneath.  I didn't use these since I used our driveway which will be pressure washed shortly, but if you have any concerns aboout getting paint on your work surface, you'll need these).

The Process


I am not a very patient person when it comes to projects like this, so I decided to just go for it.  I painted the dark grey around the edges and the light grey in the middle.  I then used a wet sock to blend the colors together.  Once that dried, I used the sock and water to dab the accent colors around the center and blended towards the edges.  

Of course Riley helped me test it out.  I'm so excited with how this turned out!  I can't wait to work with it in a portrait session.  Stay tuned for the results!


If you are interested in booking your own portrait session please contact me to schedule your complimentary consultation today!