Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Thin Acrylic Paints


Here is a reader question about painting with acrylic paints:

I have recently painted a small mural in my nursery. I just used acrylic paints as it was a small project with just a few colors. However, the colors look rather flat and heavy. Is there any way I can sand the image? or what would you suggest for me to do to lighten it up a bit, or give it more depth? ~Kerri

Hi Kerri,

I would not sand the mural, unless you plan on painting the entire wall over again. But from the sound of it, if you say the paint has come out heavy and flat looking, then maybe it would be best to start over.

When painting with acrylics, it is important to use a thinning medium - something to make the paint more fluid and moveable. I use a product called - matte medium. All you have to do is dip your brush into the medium and then into your color and it does wonders.

Acrylic Medium Golden Fluid Matte Medium 8 oz

You really cannot fix the paint once it has dried. If you are truly determined not to have to start over, then you may want to wash over the mural with a few lighter versions of the colors that are already there. Be sure to use a medium to mix with the paint.

If all else fails, start over!!

Check out this book on:
New Tricks and Techniques for Working with the World's Most Versatile Medium

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mural Wallpaper Cutouts & Stickers

Another reader question:

Hi, I am in the process of opening a day care center. I need help with decorating the walls.
Is there any place where the wall stickers are sold, where i can just get a ready made one in form of a wall paper?

Yes, you can actually purchase them online on Please click on the links below.

Click here for more Wallpaper Cutouts & Stickers

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Paint (Mural) a Shingled Roof

Another reader has written and asked how to paint roof shingles in a mural that they are doing.

I'm painting an interior wall mural and need an effect for shingles on a roof. I'm guessing a similar technique to the stone block effect using a darker color for the base coat which would be whatever you call the "mortar" area of a shingle. Then I will glaze coat a lighter color in shingle shapes? How do I get the perspective of say, three rows of 4x8" shingles?

Here are a few step by step instructions:

1. Gather reference pictures like the one above. All you do is go to Google Images and type in what you are looking for. A million pictures will come up.

2. Choose colors going from light to medium to dark. I would pick 4 to 5 different colors to work with.

3. Practice on a sample board. This is always my number one suggestion before attempting to paint an actual wall. That way, if you make a mistake, you can figure it out before making a mess of the mural.

4. Paint the area with the darkest color first

5. Measure the area. You may need to use some perspective skills depending on how the roof is being viewed in the mural. Notice in the above picture that you are looking at the roof from the bottom, so the shingles look smaller at the top. The first picture below is one point perspective and the second picture is two point perspective. This will give you an idea on how you should be measuring.

The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium

Tip: use a watercolor pencil to mark your measurements. It will be washable on your painted surface and you can get them in any color.

6. Start painting the bottom shingles first. You will have to layer one on top of the next. Use your medium color.

7. Paint in the shadows with your darkest color

8. Paint in the highlights with your lightest color. Remember that your light source will be coming from one direction, in this case the top of the shingle roof, especially if your imaginary sun is out.

So, that should give you an idea of where to start. The hardest part will probably be getting the perspective right. I always have trouble with that. But once you figure that out - you should be fine. Happy Painting!!

Be sure to check out this great book on Perspective Painting.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reader Question - Classroom Mural on Oil Painted Walls

"First of all, I want to say that your paintings are awesome!!!!!! You are such an inspiration!! I teach school and love to paint. My principal has given me permission to paint on one wall in my classroom. I want to do it right.

My problem is, the wall has been painted with oil white paint, I suppose as with all walls in a school (for protection). How should I first prep the wall before painting to make the paint stick, use kiltz or something like it? Then, what kind of paint should I use to actually paint the mural....acrylic? I know oils don't mix well with each other.

One more.........once the mural is painted, what do I use to seal and protect it? I feel so confident with your advice! Your murals are beautiful!!!

Thanks for being there for us amateurs! Many thanks and blessings for taking your time to answer my questions....." Diana :-)


Hi Diana, Thanks so much for your nice comments!

First of all, I really appreciate when people take the time to reach out and ask for help and advice. I would be happy to answer your questions for you.

Yes, you really do need to prime the walls first before painting them. Kilz has a great primer sealer. I would do 2 coats.

As far as your mural paints - go with anything waterbased. I use mainly acrylics and even some latex for blocking in larger areas with color. I don't use oil based paints at all because I am very sensitive to the fumes. (It gives me headaches).

The best product to seal a mural with is a water based varnish in a flat / matte finish. Whatever you do, don't use polyurethane, even if it is water based because it will yellow if exposed to the sun. There is even a special uv resistant faux finish sealer on the market that you may want to look into. Keep in mind that you don't want to seal the mural for a good week or so. You want to mural paint to settle and dry thorougly first.

Well, I hope that I was able to help you. I would love to see pictures of your mural when it is done. Be sure to take before and after pictures!

Good luck and Happy Painting! DAWN

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Marble Faux Finishes in the Bathroom

I know that it has been quite a while since I have posted. I have been taking a bit of a break due to our new baby arriving. I now have 3 small children under the age of 4, so I have been quite busy. Thanks to all of you for you for your patience.

I have 3 blogs now that I am managing. My plan is to post in all of them at least once a week, so please check them out and add them to your blog lists.
Nursery Murals and More Blog
Surfaces with Paint Blog
Murals & Faux Blog

I have posted pictures of the new baby on both the Surfaces with Paint blog and the Nursery blog. Be sure to stop by and leave your comments. :)

Now to the good stuff - Marble Faux Finishes in the bathroom!

There are an unlimited number of marbles available on the market. That also means there are an unlimited number of marble faux finishes that can be done with paint and glaze.

Marbling (or Marbleizing) is a process of layering paint & glazes over a plain colored base coat. Many different tools can be used to manipulate the glaze such as wool, rags, cheese cloth, feathers, and even brushes.

As you can see in real marble, the veining usually goes in a certain direction. Most marble wall finishes will follow a diagonal direction.

Marble is a fun faux finish to do, because you can use any color and any combination of colors to match the decor of your bathroom.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Creating Faux Stone with Concrete

The work represented in this post was done by Nathan Giffin, owner of Creative Rock Forming

This artist uses a concrete material to create these beautiful faux stone finishes. He trowels it between 1 & 3" thick in order to create the deep natural crevices of real stone. He also uses what he calls hand made "skins" to texturize the surface. He uses a variety of tools such as brushes, trowels, stamps, and even some hand made tools that give the faux rock it's realistic character.

Giffin uses a variety of techniques for the faux paint finishes on the concrete, such as acid stains, acrylics, water based stains, and even latex paint. He also uses different methods for applying the paint colors —brushing, spraying, sponging, and spritzing. They all give a different effect.

So, as you can see, this is not an easy task, but WOW, it is just amazing how real the stones look. Gorgeous work!

Check out this great resource on: Decorative Concrete

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How to Paint Faux Wainscoting / Beadboard

I have always loved the historic look of beadboard paneling and wainscoting. It adds the perfect touch to a room that might be missing something. Instead of adding more furniture that can make a room look cluttered, consider adding a chair rail and doing a faux finish below it. Faux painted wainscoting may be the answer without having to spend a lot of money. You can also [paint over it later on.

I am going to explain how you can do it yourself with only paint, glaze, and a squeegee.

Faux Painted Beadboard

Step 1 - Get your materials together

  • Paint (base - light beige or off white color / top coat - white)
  • Good quality glaze with a long open time
  • Squeegee
  • Utility Knife
  • Roller & roller skin (I like to use weinie rollers because they are much easier to maneuver)
  • Painter's tape
Step 2 - Prepare the room
  • Lay your dropcloths.
  • Touch up holes with spackle and then spot prime
  • Tape the area with painter's tape, so you don't get paint on your trim or moldings
Step 3 - Base coat
  • Paint the area below the chair rail with the beige color in satin or pearl finish paint, let dry and do a 2nd coat
Step 4 - Prepare the squeegee
  • Measure and mark the squeegee where you want your cuts to be
  • Cut out with a utility knife to look like the picture below

Step 5 - Mix your Paint & Glaze
  • Use the white paint as the top coat color to mix with your glaze
  • 3 parts glaze to 1 part paint
  • Do not add water because this can cause the glaze to dry faster on your surface, instead use an extender if you are concerned about the open time.
Step 6 - Apply Glaze Mixture
  • Roll on your glaze in 3- 4 foot sections
  • Immediately roll through the glaze with your squeegee
  • It is easier if you have 2 people working on the project so one can roll on and the other can squeegee off.
  • You need to work quickly

Step 7 - Clean Up
  • Remove Tape
  • Touch up with a small detail brush in areas where the paint may have bled through the tape.
  • Save the glaze in a small air tight container. Be sure to label it.
So, that was easy enough right? Another great idea for a faux paint finish. This finish can be done in any room of the house or anywhere that already has a chair rail splitting the walls in a room.

You also have the option of putting a coat of gloss finish sealer over the finish. This will not only protect it, but it will bring out that true gloss wainscoting paint finish.

If you have any questions about this finish, please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dropcloths - What are the best to use?

Drop cloths are a must when doing any type of painting job whether straight painting, faux finishing, or even doing a mural.

It is very important to protect your floors even before bringing in your gear. I have learned some simple tips through trial and error over my years of painting that I thought may help you understand the importance of a drop cloth.

First, lets talk about the different drop cloth options:

1. Paper Dropcloths

  • Comes on a roll usually 3-4 ft wide
  • Good to use on hard wood floors & tile
  • Needs to be taped down to the floor because they move
  • Will need to be thrown away at the end of the job
2. Plastic Dropcloths
  • Good to use on furniture
  • Easily ripped, cut, or punctured
  • Not good to use on floors because paint spills stay wet on the surface and can then be tracked through the rest of the house
3. Canvas Dropcloths
  • Can be used on both hard surfaces or carpeted floors
  • Made of recycled cotton
  • Can be used mulitiple times (I have had mine for several years)
  • The tighter the weave, the more absorbent they are (go for the more expensive, they will last longer)
4. Canvas Dropcloths with Backing
  • Rubberized backing on one side
  • Less slipping on slick surfaces
  • More expensive than regular canvas drop cloths
  • No paint can leak through, even if you spilled a whole gallon on this drop cloth

So, in my professional opinion, if you plan on painting professionally - purchase both the regular canvas dropcloths as well as the drop cloths with the backing. If you are a homeowner and need a good drop cloth for a few small home painting projects, stick with the regular canvas drop cloths. But buy the more expensive ones with the tighter weave. If you use the cheaper canvas dropcloth to cover over carpet and accidentally tip over a gallon of paint (it happens!) the paint will definitely leak through the cloth onto your carpet. Believe me, I have had to learn this the HARD way! It is worth the extra money to have that extra protection.

I like to use old sheets to cover furniture. I stay away from the paper & plastic drop cloths all together. If the sheets are sliding off the furniture, then use painter's tape or even safety pins to secure it.

  • Tape down your drop cloths, especially when working on a slippery surface, such as hard wood or tile. I usually put a few peices of tape along the edges right on the baseboard trim. I also tape in between drop cloths so you do not trip and your ladder does not get caught on an edge when maneuvering around the room.
  • Shake out your drop cloths at the end of the job and fold them neatly to store them. This will make it so much easier for you to use them for your next job. If you are working in a home with dogs or cats, it is even more important that you clean the dropcloths between uses. You can also wash a drop cloth depending on its size. For the larger sizes go to a laundromat.
Here are a few great dropcloth options that you can purchase online through Amazon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Camouflage Wall Murals

I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Tip Junkie, who posts about great tips and creative ideas on all different subjects. Be sure to check it out!

I came across one of her posts titled Boy Room Ideas. There she had a picture of a boy's bedroom that had been painted in camouflage. So I decided to do some research and find other cool bedroom murals that had also been done in camo.

As seen on Tip Junkie &

Painting a wall in camouflage can be an easy and fun project for you and your child to do together. There are many different camouflage colors to choose from. Sit down with your child and figure out which camo they like the best and then procede to pick 3-4 colors to use in the mural. Because the shapes are simple, fluid, and organic, you can start by drawing the outline directly onto the wall with a pencil. Step 2 would be filling in the shapes with your colors. Use an artists brush to do the painting.

If anyone has an camouflage mural pictures, please send them our way so we can post them on our blog!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunset Wall Murals

I was just sitting here at my desk with my big 8 month old pregnant belly in front of me (giving me lots of discomfort), and I imagined myself in a far away place watching the sunset. So I thought I would take this opportunity to get inspired and look for hand painted wall murals depicting sunset scenes. Enjoy!

This picture was done with an airbrush.

Sunsets are fairly easy to paint. It is just a matter of blending the colors from dark at the top to lighter at the horizon line. A great way to blend your colors is by using a paint medium or a water based glaze.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Metallic Wall Finishes

There are a number of options you can choose if you want to do a metallic faux paint or plaster finish. I came across a site called Painting The Town that does beautiful painting work in North Carolina. The business is run by Marc and Sandy Savard.

On their website they have a page dedicated to Metallic Paint Finishes. I just love some of the ideas that they have come up with.

Check out this great book on metallic wall finishes called:
The Gilded Room: Decorating with Metallic Effects, from Metal Leaf to Powders, Pastes and Paints

Modern Masters offers metallic paints and glazes. Click below to order.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dining Room Mural and Decorating Ideas

I found this mural on The artist painted this mural in a New York City townhouse. It is a Chinoiserie style mural which (according to Wikipedia) is a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque" reflecting chinese artistic influences. I love the tent style ceiling and the twisting sprouting trees.

I found the following two murals on a site called the Mural Resource Project which was created by the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.

This first room is so subtle with the soft pastel colors. It is the perfect backdrop for the ivory dining room furniture and decorative chandelier.

This dining room / kitchen mural takes you straight to Tuscany with the warm tones of color and the faux stone. I love the depth of this painting. It looks as if you are actually looking down a cobblestone walkway towards the arched entrance to the countryside. You can do a lot of dreaming while cooking & eating in this space.

Another beautiful landscape scene. I found this one on I love how the artist Dana Blanchard captured the reflection of the trees on the water.

Artist Don Tolman was commissioned to do this mural by his mother. It depicts the changing seasons going around the room.

So those are just a few creative ideas to transform a boring dining room into something fabulous! Feel free to email me with your questions. I would be happy to help you and give you some advice for your space.

Here are a couple of resources on Dining Room Decorating.

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