The more I play around with chalk style paint, the more I learn there is not a single way of doing any technique. There are literally tons of ways to achieve a look, and if you ask a handful of artists how to duplicate a look, you will probably receive a handful of different answers. None of which are wrong. There are a few things to keep in mind however…the first of which is each and every piece of furniture will have a mind of its own. So while you can recreate a look, do not expect to duplicate it, because expecting to do so will just lead to frustration! The second is to listen to your piece, and play around some, I promise there is very little that can’t be fixed, or at least painted over.
But let’s get to it shall we! Let’s talk about what steps I used to create my first blended masterpiece. Okay masterpiece might be a stretch, but it is a piece I am super proud of, because it actually turned out far better than I had planned. Oh, and it did so on it’s own, because I had a completely different vision for the piece in mind. It was, by all accounts, completely accidental, and it all started with the prep.
I have discussed before just how important prepping your piece is, and you can read all about that here so I will just touch on it in this post. After following my prep, and thoroughly cleaning the piece because it was nightmarishly dirty, I mean just look at this grime! I made sure to prime my piece with Wise Owl Stain Eliminating Primer in white. I chose white because I wasn’t going to be distressing the piece, and I was, at this point, still intending to use a light teal shade with the dark blue (this is where the happy accident begins).
In some cases a single coat of primer is enough to get the necessary adhesion, but I went with two coats of primer to help with the tannin blocking for the top, and to give me a little extra insurance, as the original paint was quite slick and shiny.
It is very easy to want to skip the priming step when dealing with chalk style paint which is known for its ability to adhere to a number of surfaces, but the reasons to prime far outweigh the reasons to not (which is really only to save time, and get to the painting faster). Priming allows for better adhesion for your paint, which also makes painting easier, but it also helps to block stains, which can sometimes bleed through a painted piece, ruining all of your hard work. By priming you are actually saving yourself time and headache in the long run. Now let’s open some paint!
Every time I open a new can of Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint, I end up with a new favorite color, and Inkwell was no exception. It is a stunning deep rich blue, and it only took a few brush strokes to know it was going to be perfect on this project. It was also at about this point I realized this project was no longer going to be a few shades of blue, but instead was going to be blending of Inkwell and Snow Owl, all because of the primer. Just look at the contrast of the stark white primer against the dark blue of the Inkwell. this was exactly what this table was meant to be. Bob Ross had it right when he referred to them as “Happy Accidents.”
I made sure I had a good first coat on the top of the table, and down the legs, only about half way down in Inkwell, before switching over to Snow Owl. Fortunately I had two of my trusty Cling-On R12 brushes handy, so I didn’t have to immediately stop what I was doing to try and get all that blue cleaned out before switching to the brightest white I have ever seen. Sidebar, if you have never tried a Cling-On brush, you are missing out! I promise they are life changing in the furniture painting world, and there is a reason you will see them mentioned over and over again on the furniture painting boards, because there simply is no comparison. I could go on for days about the benefits of using a good brush, but I will leave that to another post. Using my clean R12 I then painted a quarter of the way up each leg from the bottom, leaving about a quart of space between where my blue ends, and my white begins, and this is where the magic happens, well at least it happens after my paint has had time to dry some.
Using a beauty supply mister (you can find one on Amazon or Sally’s if you have one near you), I sprayed a fine mist of distilled water over the end of the blue, and with a clean Cling-On began to pull the slightly reactivated inkwell down the leg, and I did the same process with another clean brush and began pulling the Snow Owl up to meet the Inkwell. I use distilled water, as I do not want the possibility of mineral deposits from tap water showing up on the surface of my paint. I slowly and lightly blend the two together, adding small amounts of the Snow Owl or Inkwell to just the tips of my brush as needed to pull more paint. When doing this you really need a light touch, and very little paint, in some cases I will even wipe most of paint off before brushing the surface of the legs to blend.
If you find the paint is drying too quickly, you can always add more water, but do so lightly as you do not want drips (that is another post), you just want a damp surface to allow the paint to glide on. Oh, and keep a clean dry brush close by, because you will want to use this to actually brush over where your two colors meet to help even and soften the lines of the paint for an ombre effect.
Don’t worry if you pull too much of one color, as you can literally move to another section, allow the paint to dry, and layer on the other color, and begin blending again. Just know it is easier to hide the lighter color than it is the dark, so in this case I would suggest pulling up with the lighter piece more than down with the darker.
Once I had the blending at the base completed, it was time to work on the details at the top of the table. In many cases a dark wax is used to help really set off the details of a piece, but I wanted a more cohesive look, so I instead dry brushed the snow owl along the tips of the details. In order to do this, you will want to use a much smaller, soft bristled, detail brush which you can find in just about any craft store or craft section. For this project I used a short bristled, angled brush. You will want to just get the tips of the brush in the paint, and then you will literally want to wipe off a good portion of the paint, until the brush feels almost dry. Then take the brush and sort of flip the tip of the brush back and forth over the detail, allowing the paint to grab the edges of the raised pieces. This allows you to control the amount of highlight you are adding, and build onto it as needed. Don’t worry if you get a little heavy handed with the highlight, you can always add more inkwell and start again!
Once you have your piece the way you want it, you will want to allow it to dry. Chalk style paints dry very quickly, but that doesn’t mean you want to immediately seal the piece, because while it feels dry to the touch, it may not be completely dry. I generally allow my pieces to sit over night before sealing. There are a number of different ways to seal a piece, from wax, to salve, to varnish, and they all have different benefits. As this was something that would get a lot of use, I opted to seal this with Wise Owl Matte Varnish for its durability, plus I wanted to keep the powdery look of the chalk style paint, and the matte varnish helped to do just that. To aid in avoiding brushstrokes, I opt for using a sponge to apply the varnish instead of a brush, as our varnish is resin based, and dries quickly. You can find the sponges I use on this project here. I actually use these sponges to apply my wax as well, but that is instructions for another day!
Now it is time to create your own blended masterpiece! I have included a discount bundle which includes some of the tools I used to create my piece.
If you have questions, need clarification, or just want to chat, drop a line below, as all comments are appreciated!
So get out there and get creative, or make your own happy accidents!
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