A Costume Masterpiece

me in my mona lisa canvas

Hello all! 3 weeks to the big day and I’m here again with an inspiring canvas costume idea that you can do if you are in a jam to get a costume together. This is a fun and very simple project and something you can take in a variety of directions…you could place yourself into a variety of famous paintings. At the bottom of this post, I’ve expanded upon some ideas you can do. I think I completed it in an hour or so, but I ended up walking away with 2nd place overall for my effort at my work’s contest. Halloween costumes aren’t always about the expensive stuff you by at your local costume shot, they are about infusing your own creativity and personality into them. I plan on sharing a few of my other past costume ideas in the weeks to come.

– Various paints and paintbrushes
– scissors/exacto knife
– 16×20 white canvas
– pencil
– photo of a famous masterpiece to go by

1. Draw out your general design, and draw an oval a little bit smaller than your head onto the canvas. Using an exacto knife, punch through the canvas. Use scissors to cut around the drawn oval. Look into a mirror and determine if it needs to be large. Continue cutting oval shape until your head fits comfortably in place. In general, it’s better to start out small with your cut out shape so that you don’t make the hole too large. I wanted the hole for my head to only fit in part of my face…I didn’t want to make it so big that I could fit my whole head through.

2. Continue drawing/modifying your design to fit the oval cut out. Paint your canvas to look like painting. Let dry.

3. In my case, I ended up wearing a long black dress with long sleeves to match the look of the mona lisa robe/dress. This helps add to the illusion.

4. Now go out there and win that contest!!!

I actually got this idea from a version I had seen of of someone putting their head into the Marilyn Monroe Andy Warhol painting. For the life of me, I can’t find a pic, but her head was stuck through this image:


You could do other classic masterpieces as well. Try one of these on for size:

Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pearl Earring” (Bonus points if you’re Scarlett Johanssen)

A Frida Kahlo self-portrait

Munch’s “The Scream”

And if you are looking for a couples costume, you could go as this:
Wood’s “American Gothic”

If you are around more arty types of people, I’m sure you could do something a little less mainstream, but I think these images are pretty iconic that most people from all walks of life have seen.

Well, gotta get back to it! Until next time Swellions!


All content/photos copyright, © Alexa L. Westerfield, 2008.


  1. says

    Oh my goodness! What a truly unique idea! I’m in love with it! I’m so glad you started and are participating in this group of artists on display! I love seeing your work! Beautiful piece!

  2. says

    This is so cool! You know I’m totally going to steal this idea one of these years! You look fantastic! Congrats on winning the best costume prize at living locurto!

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