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Keep Calm: Halloween Art Made Easy

Updated on August 22, 2014

“Keep Calm and Carry On.” Wise words for sure, and although they never saw the light of day for their intended purpose, this simple phrase has sparked a meme phenomenon! On Facebook alone on any given day one might see a few variants:

Keep Calm and Sparkle On.

Keep Calm and Drink On.

Keep Calm and Call Mom.

The now iconic phrase has an interesting history, which you can see in this infographic created by the folks at—the main purveyor of Keep Calm posters and merchandise. (You can create your own custom saying on their site, too!)

“Keep Calm and Carry On” was created by the British Ministry of Information as one of a 3-part series of morale boosting posters during World War II. “Keep Calm” was designed in case of a German invasion of the British Isles, which never happened. Therefore, the poster was never seen publicly and was thought to have been destroyed. A few copies remained, however, and now more than 10 million variations have been created!

Inspired by the international “Keep Calm” craze, I made a large painting for Halloween with just a few craft supplies. It takes a bit of time and patience, but no artistic ability needed, trust me!

This is the transfer paper I used.
This is the transfer paper I used.


  • 24x36 inch artist canvas
  • Lettering template*
  • Scissors
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Transfer paper
  • Pencil
  • Orange acrylic craft paint
  • Black acrylic craft paint (or paint pens)
  • Paint brushes

Trim most of the paper from the words, leaving the bottom of the page to help with spacing.
Trim most of the paper from the words, leaving the bottom of the page to help with spacing.
Carefully place the transfer paper under each word, working one at a time.
Carefully place the transfer paper under each word, working one at a time.
Check to make sure the transfer is going through.
Check to make sure the transfer is going through.


1. Prepare the canvas by applying at least 2 coats of orange acrylic craft paint, drying between coats. I used an inexpensive foam applicator brush. Touch up as needed. Allow to dry completely.

2. Print the lettering template (note: the attached template is formatted for legal size paper). Trim excess paper to within 1/4” of the top and side edges of the letter groupings as printed. (Don’t worry about the split up words; they’ll be reassembled on the canvas.)

Trim excess paper from the hat.

3. Using blue tape, attach the witch’s hat template, centered on the canvas, with the point about ½” from the top of the canvas.

4. Using blue tape, attach the words, reassembling any split words, using the wide bottom edge of the paper as a spacing guide between lines. Allow a bit of extra space for the “AND” as shown.

5. When you’re happy with the alignment and spacing of the words, one word at a time, carefully place a sheet of transfer paper under the paper template. You may need to lift and reapply a few of the tape tabs holding the letters in place. Trace the outline of each letter onto the canvas with a pencil. You do not need to fill in the letter, just trace the outline.

6. Check to ensure the transfer is working, and adjust the pressure of the pencil as needed. Repeat this process for each word and the witch’s hat.

7. Remove all blue tape and the templates. (Any errant smudges from the transfer paper can be easily removed with an eraser.)

8. Fill in each letter and the hat with black acrylic paint using an artist brush, or use a black paint pen.

Voila! Hang and enjoy and receive the compliments of your friends and family.

*The template is for a large painting, but if you’d like to create something smaller, you can use this technique with your own template. Use Century Gothic lettering (bold) in a size that fits your canvas, and scale the witch’s hat to fit. (The ideal size is 1.5 times the size of the lettering. So, if your lettering is 1 inch, the hat should be 1.5 inches).

Styling Tips

I hung the painting over the fireplace and leaned some adorable witch's legs from Trendy Tree against it. The candles are my own creation, with some black sheer fabric attached with sparkly orange deco mesh to the sconce. It would also look great with witch-themed accessories and props, like a broom, a hat and a black cat!


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