Van Halen

Add some cool color to a drab wall while saluting a rock icon.

After a few months of being cooped up inside all day during this unprecedented lockdown across the nation, you may find that you now have some free time to chill out and reflect on life and find inner peace. Or, you may have spent the last few months trying to drown your anxiety in whiskey and bong hits as Van Halen blares in the background on Spotify on a constant loop. I chose the latter.

Buzzed and suffering from lockdown boredom, I randomly found some old tubes of acrylic paint that I had lying around the house and I decided to paint over an old canvas that was sitting in the closet.

I needed something fun to add some color to my living room, but I didn’t want to paint the entire room. Here’s what I gathered together to create a quick, colorful wall-art tribute to the world’s greatest guitarist, inspired by Eddie Van Halen’s iconic “Frankenstein” guitar (aka “Frankenstrat”):

  • art tape* or masking tape, varying widths: 1/2”, 1”, 2” (*art tape is less adhesive and thus the preferred option)
  • acrylic paint: red, white, black
  • canvas: new or used, any size and shape
  • Sharpie markers: red, black

Eddie Van Halen

  1. Paint the entire canvas using the white acrylic paint or gesso.
  2. Once the white acrylic paint is dry, pull up a photo of Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein” guitar for reference (or go from memory and add your own touches) and begin laying down strips of the art tape over the canvas, using the different widths of tape in a way that replicates the white lines of the popular tri-color abstract art featured on the body of the guitar. Be sure to fix a tape around the edges of the canvas too.
  3. After you have the strips of tape where you want them and the tape is softly pressed down and secured, use the acrylic paint to completely cover the canvas, painting over the tape. Remember to paint the side of the canvas too.
  4. When the red acrylic paint is completely dry to the touch, begin to slowly peel off the art tape.
  5. Add the thin black lines by using two strips of any size tape to make each single line. You’ll use one Strip of tape to create the top of the black lines of the guitar. Use a second strip of tape placed about about 1/2” apart and running in the same direction as the top piece of tape. Then, paint between the strips and over the red using the black acrylic paint.
  6. Peel off the remaining take once the black acrylic paint is completely dry. If any of the lines don’t turn out crisp straight lines because of paint seeping beneath the edges of the tape, you can use red and black Sharpie markers and a small paintbrush and white acrylic paint to touch up any areas that need to be fixed.
Eddie and “Frankenstrat” performing during The Jacksons’ Victory Tour.

Eddie’s got plenty more cool custom guitars that could inspire similar pieces. So, if the lockdown goes on further and you’re looking for a good way to pass the time, why not aim for a set of canvases inspired by EVH’s enviable guitar collection.

Eddie Van Halen’s guitars on display at Guitar Center on the Sunset Strip.

Or think outside the VH box and consider a circular design in honor of Zakk Wylde’s famous guitars.

Zakk Wylde’s six string in the window of Guitar Center Sunset.

Or how about a dotted canvas that echoes of Randy Rhoads’ iconic motif?

Guitar hero Randy Rhoads and his equally famous Flying V.

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