Hanukkah is almost here! If you want to make your own light up painting for the Festival of Lights, follow my step-by-step directions. This may look complicated, but it’s easy with the included free printable menorah.
Our little family recently moved into a new house 120 miles away from home. Hanukkah is drawing near and my heart is longing to be with family. I do not want my young boys to feel sad this holiday, so I have been thinking of ways to make the holiday extra special. We usually decorate the windows and tables for the season, but this year we also have a fireplace! I thought it would be fun to create a unique piece of art for our mantle. This got me thinking about the story of Hanukkah.
Contrary to popular belief, Hanukkah is NOT the Jewish Christmas. Its actually a true story that happened in 165 BC when the Syrians took over and desecrated the Holy Temple. The Maccabees, a rebel army, rose up and fought to win back the temple. After their victory, the Jewish people began the process for cleansing and rededicating the temple alter in Jerusalem. The word Hanukkah (חֲנֻכָּה) means “to dedicate”.
Hanukkah is also referred to as the Festival of Lights because it is said that God miraculously caused a single day’s worth of oil to burn for 8 days while the temple was being rededicated. With this in mind, I thought making a painting of the temple menorah would be exactly what our fireplace mantle needs.
That same temple was later destroyed in 70 AD. The Temple Institute in Jerusalem has diligently worked to rebuild individual vessels and instruments needed for the eventual building of a 3rd temple. One of these pieces is the temple menorah as described in Exodus 25:31-40. (pictured left)
So lets begin! Here is a list of all the basic supplies you will need to create your own light up menorah painting.
You will need:
- 16″x20″ canvas
- mini LED Christmas lights (string of 10)
- free menorah printable
- assorted acrylic paints
- paint brushes
- graphite paper
- tape (painters and duct tape)
- X-Acto knife
- Paint the background.
This first step is very easy. You want to paint the entire canvas with a background color. My 10-year-old chose paints that matched my living room decor. Next, he simply smeared the paint all over the canvas, making sure that no white was showing. Let your imagination be your guide and have fun with this part. You’ll want to avoid deep colors in the center area because it will make the next step harder. When our canvas was covered, we decided to grab a drink and watch a show together while we waited for it to dry. Altogether, drying time was only about 30 minutes.
2.Trace the Menorah
For this next part, you will need the free menorah printable I have included. Just place it on the canvas wherever you would like for your menorah to be and carefully tape the corners down with painter’s tape. (Only painters tape will work, others can damage your painting.) Then, slip a sheet of graphite paper, dark side down, under your paper. With firm yet gentle pressure, trace the entire outside of the menorah. I suggest using a dull pencil for this part. If you are not able to get dark enough lines on the canvas, you can try placing a book underneath to give you a hard surface to press down on. As you can see in the pictures, my son was able to do this part by himself.
3. Fill in the outline.
Next, you want to fill in the outline with a dark gold color of acrylic paint. I did not have a color that I wanted, so I decided to blend two together and create my own. This is a combination of metallic gold and a light golden brown. Depending on your paint choices, you may need to do a second coat. Be careful to stay in the lines. Do not worry about adding any details at this point. Halfway through painting the menorah gold, my son decided he was tired and went to bed. It was 12:30am!
4. Time to add details
This next part can be intimidating, but trust me, its easy! Now, you just need to add some details to your work. For this, I used my metallic gold paint and drew thin lines in all the places where light should be touching. I decided that it should be the top and left side of everything. (The top because of the light from the flames, and left for the natural light.) Then, I added a single drop of black paint to my gold mixture to paint shadows. For the shadows, you want to paint a thin line everywhere that is opposite to your highlights. This can also be used to add subtle details. For the details, you can paint your own design or use the free menorah printable for examples. I actually just added some partial lines, random dots of paint, and tiny squiggles. This is also a great time to add flames to the top of your candlesticks. I formed simple teardrop shapes with yellow paint and then blended a touch of red into the base of each flame.
Remember that every painting is unique and doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Each piece of art should be its own masterpiece. Imperfections add character.
There are two more options you can do instead of highlights and shadows if you prefer. One is to simply leave the menorah solid gold, and it will still look wonderful as a silhouette painting. The other option is to outline everything with black paint on a thin paintbrush. This technique will make your design more whimsical.
5. More options!
You may have noticed that I added some writing around the edges of our painting. This is totally optional and no expert skill is required. First, I lightly drew my words on the canvas with a pencil and then I painted over them with a thin paintbrush in the same golden color as my menorah base. I chose to write out Deuteronomy 6:4-5. You could write any verse you want or even just add some decorative swirls and shapes. You might even want to write “Happy Hanukkah”, “Shabbat Shalom”, or another fun phrase. The sky is the limit! When you are happy with your painting, let it dry again.
6. Adding the lights.
I was able to find mini LED Christmas lights on sale for 50% off at Michaels Arts and Crafts Store. Win! They have online coupons all the time. Just go to their website and sign up to receive their emails. (These only cost me $3.49 and I found a 2-pk. of canvases for only $5.49!)
This last part seems tricky, but is the easiest step. I started out by using a thumb tack to carefully poke a hole in the center of each flame. (Any small, sharp object will work.) Then, using an X-Acto knife, I carefully cut tiny holes where my thumb tack mark was. You’ll want these holes to be slightly smaller than your LED bulb so that they do not slip out easily, and just large enough that the canvas doesn’t tear when you push them through. As you can see, my holes were teeny-tiny.
After you have pushed your bulbs into the holes, secure the wire with duct tape. It’s that easy! I also used tape to attach my light base to the inside corner of my canvas so that I can easily reach the On/Off switch. After trying it out, I discovered that the 3 unused bulbs were shining through the canvas in random spots. I covered each one with some extra duct tape to dim their light.
That’s it! Now, you have a beautiful, one of a kind, light-up painting that you can use for Hanukkah or all-year-round.
If you enjoyed this craft and want to see more, please comment below. If you tried it out yourself and/or have questions, I would like to hear your feedback.
Shalom and be blessed!