It has been my dream for years to have enough wall space to make a giant family tree. I have painted a family tree before however it was small scale, and I want to go massive.
Even though I currently do not have space for my huge tree, I have been searching for the right designs so that when the day comes, I will know exactly what I want.
A family tree mural or wall of your ancestor’s photos is a great way to show off your family history. As genealogists and family historians, a lot of work goes into researching our family tree. We get excited about the discoveries we have made and a lot of us like to show our hard work to others.
Here are some of my favorite ideas for displaying ancestry.
How to paint a tree on the wall
Painting a tree can be intimidating to some. They are large, there is a lot of leaves to paint, and a lot of branches that sometimes you just aren’t sure where to put them. If you remember these few simple tricks, it’s a lot easier than you think.
- No two trees are exactly the same. Like snowflakes, trees are different. Some stand straight and tall, some bend a little, and some are curvy, but they are all connected to the ground.
- Tree trunks and branches are wide at the base and taper gradually to the tips.
- Tree Branches fork. I call it the rule of two. When you add a branch to a tree, eventually it must fork, then the branches that were born from the fork will fork. Just remember not to over do it. Sometimes keeping it simple is best.
- When painting leaves, paint them in clusters of 2 or 3.
What you will need:
- Acrylic Craft Paint in Brown and 2 shades of Green (a darker green and a lighter green)
- Paint Brushes or Sponge Brushes
- A Kitchen Sponge
- Paper Plates
- A Pencil
- A Permanent Marker
- A Pair of Scissors
- A Reference Image
- First sit and think about what kind of tree you want and either find a reference photo online and print it or sketch out the shape of your tree on a piece of paper. Having a reference handy helps you remember where to place everything.
- To prep the wall where you will be painting your mural, either paint the wall with a fresh coat of paint, or wash the wall with a damp cloth and let it dry. You want it to be dust free as dust causes bumps in your paint.
- With a pencil, sketch the trunk and branches of your tree on the wall. As long as you do not press too hard with the pencil, any mistakes can be washed away with a damp rag or a little shaving cream on the end of a cotton swab.
- Following your pencil marks on the wall outline the tree with the brown paint. I found this easiest to do with the pointed tip of a small sponge brush. Once the outline is dry, fill in the rest of the tree.
- While your brown paint is drying, take your kitchen sponge and using your permanent marker, draw the shape of a leaf to the size you require. (You should hold the leaf up to your tree to see if you want it larger or smaller before cutting it out.) When you are happy with your leaf, cut it out with a pair of scissors.
- On a paper plate, spread some of the light green paint so that when you dip your sponge it will be completely covered on one side. Dip your sponge in the paint being careful not to load it with too much paint. If you think it may be too much, you can do a practice stamp on a paper towel.
- Start stamping leaves at the end of the branches like in the image above. When you have enough light green leaves, wash your sponge and repeat with the dark green paint.
- If the edges of your leaves are not as crisp as you would like, you can make an outline around using a small paintbrush and the leaf colored paints.
- Check your tree for any touch-ups you may need to do, and you are done.
Once you have your tree painted on the wall and it has dried, you can arrange old family photos in simple frames over the top of the tree. For the cleanest look, use solid colored frames.
Ancestry wall display
Don’t have photos, but still want a way to display your ancestry?
What you will need:
- A variety of picture frames (The frame size depends on the how many ancestors you are adding and the space you will be using for the display. Also, the frames for more recent generations will be larger than the older generations)
- A Printer
- Printer Paper
- Command Strips, Wall Mounting Tabs, or Small nails. (This depends on how many holes you want in your wall.)
- Clear a large area of floor to make a practice layout of your frames. Starting with your largest frames at the bottom, arrange your frames like the image above.
- For the largest frame or frames (1 frame if you are beginning with yourself, the largest 2 if you are beginning with you and your spouse) create a printout of your name and birthday in a size appropriate to the frame size and insert it into the frame. Repeat this step with your other frames changing the information you print to you and your spouse’s parents in the next smaller frames, then grandparents for the next, great-grandparents and so forth until you run out of frames. If you have children, their frames will go in between and below you and your spouse.
- Once you have all of the information framed and the frames in the positions you want them, you can begin hanging them on the wall using the wall mounting method of your choice.
These are just 2 ways that you can create an eye-catching wall display of your ancestors, but each are customizable to suit your needs. Don’t like green? Change the leaf color to an accent color that fits the room. The room where you are placing your wall display has a blue theme? Paint the frames a darker or lighter shade of the blue in the room to create a focal point.
Have fun with it, and as always, enjoy the journey!
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