Easy DIY Ombre & Star Nativity Backdrop Painting

I really like our Willow Tree nativity set, and it usually resides on the refinished buffet in our entry foyer for the Christmas season. Sometimes I add garland or lights or ribbon (or some combination there of)… But this year I went for a simpler look.

christmas nativity star painting without background

I cleared off the photo frames and set up our nativity, adding the thrifted manger/creche I picked up for $2 a couple of months ago. This year, I’m giving the wise men and their camel a rest (after all, the “wise men” did not visit Jesus in the manger, so I’m not sure why they are included in nativity sets, but that’s a rabbit trail for another day, yes?).

christmas nativity star painting first try

It looked nice to me, but I decided to give the “hotel art” a little makeover and some gainful employment as a backdrop. So I squirted black, navy, blue, then light blue in stripes across the canvas going from darkest at the bottom to lightest at the top and blended away until I had a nice gradated look, akin to a night sky. Once that was dry, I added a star.

Um… which I did not like for even two seconds (the star was just too much). I thought about maybe doing a scripture verse instead… Luke 2:8-11 would be wonderful…

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.

christmas nativity star painting redo

So–squirt squirt squirt blend blend blend–I painted the canvas background again. In the end, I decided to still do a star, but I made it four-pointed and more slight. I think it looks a bit like a cross (perfect), and this time I love it.

christmas nativity star painting before and after background

Ahhh, much better.

christmas nativity star painting

And there it is in its place. I didn’t even take the other painting down: this one is just leaning against it.

So, anyone else out there have the urge to tweak and change your decorations each year (like me), or are you a tried-and-true, always-just-so kind of Christmas decorator? Do tell!


15 responses to “Easy DIY Ombre & Star Nativity Backdrop Painting

  1. absolutely beautiful! i’ve decided the simpler look is where it’s at for me this year. i wanna be able to really concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas and my family. you did an amazing job!


    • Thank you for your kind words! This simpler look with bold background really makes it a focal point, rather than getting lost in the Christmas decor [clutter] for me! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Merry Christmas!


  2. It’s beautiful! Great job!! I love how you keep tweaking things until they are just right. It’s how I think God does us, prune a little here, trim a little there, not sure we are ever “just right” lol but a continuous work in progress I hope. Have a very Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing all your great tips!!


  3. Thanks so much for this idea! My willow tree nativity sits on my mantle but our fireplace is white and I kept trying to think of a way to make it stand out more and this will be perfect!


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  5. Love the Star! I usually put my Willow Tree Nativity on my dark piano, where it shows up well but I’m considering your great idea.

    As to other decorations, When I made a small “Wise men still seek him” sign a few years ago, I decided to incorporate it into a display of several olive wood camels I have. I lined them up on a half round table as if they’re travelling, with greenery intertwined around them for some color and interest. I hung the sign on the wall above them which happened to also be below a copy of Arnold Fribers’s “The Prayer at Valley Forge.” I felt it so appropriate that the sign is left up year round and the camels are always placed there, no matter where I put my other nativities.


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  7. This is a great idea. I know nothing about painting. What type of paint did you use that enabled you to cover over the older painting so completely? Any ideas on where to get low cost canvases?


    • It is acrylic craft paint. You can get it in the little soft plastic jars for cheap-as-chips ($0.50-1.00). And I get all my canvases at Michael’s with a coupon. But yard sales are great places to pick up [ugly] canvases uber-cheap… and then you can paint right over them!


  8. I Have loved this for several years now. Just getting around to doing it. My nativity figures are bigger, so I bought a 24″ x 52″ canvas and put it sideways. I am thinking of adding some actual micro lights in addition to the painted star. Thanks for the inspiration! The possibilities are now endless!


  9. This was a very nice and simple DIY project I’d like to try..And so cheap too!
    something you might not be aware of regarding the 3 kings – the second chapter of Matthew starts out with the visit of the Three Magi (Kings)
    “Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.”


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