To ensure a bit of consistency, I measured and marked the border and corner sections on each panel, and we all agreed to paint geometric designs in the frame, and a simple garden-related object in the middle. Together, we picked out the paint colors, and worked to create a cohesive color palette. And before we grabbed our brushes, we did some sketches to make sure we were all heading in the same general direction. In the end, my daughters were happy with their individual efforts, and I was delighted with the unified feel of the set.
After the paintings were dry, I topped them off with a coat of waterproofing finish, which I have reapplied several times over the years.
These pieces have hung on my back fence and the side of my house for at least five years now, and while they are a bit bowed, they are really none the worse for the wear. If you look closely, you can see a bit of green mildew that will not scrub off, but maybe that just adds to the paintings' charm. That's what I like to tell myself, anyway.
This is a perfect project for kids to make for grandparents; wouldn't it be fun to get a whole pack of cousins together and make a big collection for Nana and Pop? You could use smaller panels of wood if you like; I think they come in 12-inch squares as well. If your children are very young, you could switch up the theme to abstract paintings, use washable tempera paints, and let the babies have at it. Or if you have teenagers in your nest, you could hand over the supplies as well as the challenge of working out their own unifying themes. Endlessly adaptable, this project can work on many different levels.
And what could be better than a project that yields such charming, personal results? To this day, my daughters are proud of their garden painted panels, and I'm so glad that we made them.