Irene Worthington Baron



Irene Baron: 

         Baron's Easter Banner Many persons have asked how to go about painting a large church banner. This instruction should help answer some of your questions.


     Canvas with gesso coating,  4’ wide by 9’ long 
     Acrylic paint, 500-mL; 1 each red, blue, turquoise, black, yellow, brown.
     Acrylic paint, 500-mL, 2 each  white 
     1 inexpensive set of 3-each flat acrylic brushes  of sizes ½”, 1”, 2” 
     3-inch soft bristle paint brush 
     2-palette knives 
     Additional brushes as needed
     Charcoal pencil or stick
     Charcoal eraser optional
     2- sponges, small rectangular
     Dawn liquid
     3-each 16-oz mason jars
     Plastic covered moveable cart( to hold paint and materials)
     Plates, Styrofoam, (for palette for mixing colors)
     Cups, Styrofoam, cut 1-2” high (to hold larger amounts of paint)
     Carpet roll (cardboard) , 6’ long (obtain from carpet dealer )
     Trash can with plastic trash bag inserted  


1. Select the topic/season. The one illustrated and explained here was for the Easter season. 

Original Easter Sketch

2.  Decide what elements you want to include in the image. In the image shown, I included persons on Earth witnessing the ascension  with a desert type background. Their hands are trying to reach Christ in that they don’t want to lose Him in their lives.  Christ was drawn as being higher and moving upwards, one hand pointing to God and the other to His children left behind. In the original sketch, I had rays of light coming from Christ. The sketch was kept visible while drawing on the canvas.  

3.   If you do not buy prepared canvas, you will have to purchase gesso and apply several coats to cover the canvas. Let it dry before working with the canvas.

4.  The church needs to find you a room in which to work. For this canvas, I used a classroom which, unfortunately, required me to clean up and rearrange for the church use.  For this reason acrylic paints were used as they dry quickly.  

5.  When the dried painting is put aside to allow others to use the room, the painting must be stored so that it is not damaged. You can NOT fold it.  Let it dry overnight and rush back in the AM to store it. 

Prior to beginning, from a carpet dealer obtain a heavy-duty cardboard carpet roll which is over 4-inches in diameter. Cut it to a length of 5-6 feet. It should extend 4-5 inches on either side of the banner. When the banner is dry, it can be slowly rolled onto the carpet roll. SMOOTH IT DOWN AS YOU ROLL IT UP. That will keep wrinkles out of it. Once it is rolled, you can cut a 3”-4” ribbon of plastic from the tarp to tie the canvas gently. The canvas can then be stored vertically. Cover the moveable cart with plastic to keep it pristine. The cart and rolled canvas should be placed in a corner and out of everyone’s way. I requested every banner I make be stored on a carpet roll.  

Methodist Symbol Banner

The custodian stores them horizontally. Rolled in this manner, they are never wrinkled or damaged. He rolls them in a manner for storage so that the top of the banner is on the outside with the decorated area facing the roll. This allows him to easily insert the hanging rod, attach the top to the pulley system, and carefully unroll it right up the wall into the correct position. We have two primary sites for our banners. The Methodist symbol banner is kept up all the time. Pictured below, that one is made of thick Indian Head canvas such as is used to make awnings and outdoor furniture coverings. A double edged, iron-on adhesive was used to attach the colored portions after their edges were sealed on the back side to stop fraying. The previous one was made of felt which sagged after a year or so. Therefore the heavy canvas was used on the newer one. It is brighter, has sharper edge lines and is clean looking.  

6.  In the painting/workroom, I put four tables together and covered them with a thin clear plastic tarp to protect the surfaces. The canvas was rolled out onto the tables to the length I needed and cut. Since other banners I had made for the church were 8-feet long, I determined that the FINISHED length of this one would be also. Measure two or three times before cutting. Add 12-inches to the total length so that it could be folded over and glued (fabric glue and sewed edges for reinforcement) at the top to allow insertion of the hanging rod. Work tablesisite

 7 I used charcoal to draw on the canvas. Pencil may bleed through the paint or not be covered by paint because it is graphite and greasy.  Apply charcoal  so lightly that you can hardly see the line. The charcoal can be easily wiped off or erased if you make a mistake. I drew on the canvas freehand. Since the canvas is so long, I rolled up the bottom and pulled the canvas toward me to be able to reach the top area.

 8 Details would be put in later. Draw only general shapes. For example,  I didn’t draw in the clouds, but the basic Christ figure. Pulling the top of the canvas to unroll it, I then sketched in the figures on the base of the illustration. You will see my final figures are a little different from the original sketch. Feel free to improvise.

9.  If you are not proficient in drawing, you could perhaps use an overhead projector to transfer the original sketch to the canvas. However, you would have to tape it to a clean wall, use a ladder to reach all points on the canvas, tape to attach it to the wall, etc. By using an overhead, the whole picture may be incorrectly projected or skewed. I recommend you draw on the canvas directly whether it is flat or on the wall. If you feel you cannot do this, ask a drawing artist (Not all artists can draw) to help you sketch the original art on the canvas. Insist the lines be FAINT! ( If the canvas is sent to me, for a small fee I can set up your original picture/sketch and canvas drawing for you in very light pencil or charcoal)

 10.   Always mix paint on the palette on a plastic covered side table. Once it’s mixed it can be placed in a cup to hold as you paint. When you are holding paint over the canvas, use paper or SOMETHING UNDER IT so that nothing drips onto the canvas. Be very careful when removing the brush from the cup or palette so there are no drips.

 11.    Remove paint from the jars with a palette knife. I used 2 of different widths of palette knives depending on how much paint I needed.  The palette knives will be used to mix the paint on the palette. Do NOT use the brushes to mix paint as you can damage them. Once you buy  a good brush paying for $30-$100 or more, you learn to take good care of it. Now you’re ready to paint. See HOW TO PAINT A CHURCH BANNER, Part 2, for the next set of instructions. Link will be attached here when it is posted on the blog.  :-)


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