DEMONSTRATION: Decorative Painting


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Decorative painting takes time and patience. The most important thing to do is to have fun. I would like to share with you, my technique for decorative painting with acrylics, on a mailbox.

The mailbox I have chosen to paint is an old, rusted pail blue mailbox with a missing handle, that I wanted to recycle. Since it will be for my home and our last name is Pease, I wanted to paint fun vegetables with LOTS of peas.

As you read this article, you will see photos and a paragraph helping you understand what I am doing. Because this demonstrations is about painting a mailbox and not a "How-To" on painting vegetables, I didn't include the photographs for all the layers for each vegetable.

Trying to remember to take photos when I could, some of the pictures aren't the best quality, for that I apologize. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did creating it.

These are the supplies I used. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the mailbox in the original poor condition.

My palette for this was limited to these colors;

* White
* Stove Paint Flat Black (Rutland) NOT RECOMMENDED!
* Raw Sienna
* Burnt Sienna
* Ultramarine Blue
* Hookers Green Hue Permanent
* Cadmium Yellow Medium
* Cadmium Yellow Light
* Cadmium Red Medium
* Naphtol Crimson
* A REALLY GOOD varnish/polyurethane (can't stress that enough!)

The brushes I used are old and worn out brushes, ranging from round to flat, and one new liner brush for the detail work.

My first step was to make the blue mailbox black. I used a paint that is used on wood stoves.I don't recommend doing this, at all! Definitely start off with a colored mailbox.

The next step was to translate my thoughts into a sketch. From that sketch, I made a decent line drawing.

The line drawing enables me to visualize the layout and make any adjustments to the composition. In this case, I decided that it would be better to leave the leaves on the radishes off because there was already so much green.

Once the line drawing is finished, it's time to transfer it onto the surface. This is easy to do. Here's a brief explanation on how to transfer;

* Rub the back of the drawing with chalk.
* Carefully place the drawing onto your surface
* With a pencil, trace over the line drawing. (Pressing hard is not necessary.)

If you are careful, the chalk shouldn't rub off and redrawing is not required.

Because this side was not an even surface, and there was an image beneath an image, it was difficult to use my normal chalk transfer method. In this case, I drew by hand what I saw on my line drawing, using watered down raw sienna paint.
Here's the second half of the right side of the mailbox, showing the peas..

Here you can see the colors I've blocked in. This is basically the first of MANY many layers.

As the layers build, details begin to also evolve. Although I try to work on the entire composition, at the same time, in this photograph you can see the potatoes are fairly complete. .

Notice how the Mail Flag is orange. I plan to do a trompe l'oeil effect, making the flag virtually un-noticable unless raised.

A lot of layers have been applied and still more will be added as I work on the radishes, peas and mushrooms.

During the layering stage, I periodically take breaks to give a polyurethane quick spray, to protect what I have done, thus far.

This is the second half of the right side's back.

Here you can see the finished, front of the right side of the mailbox.

In this photograph, you can see how it looks, when the carrot (flag) is raised.

This is how it looks with the carrot in the down position.


Here you can see the chalk transfer on the left side of the mailbox. After tracing the image onto the mailbox, I rubbed some elements off and place them in different sizes and places.

Here you can see after the colors blocked in and some of the details added., The painting is very similar to the right side.

One small change I made was to place the vertical carrot behind the other vegetables, instead of in front as it is on the right side of the mailbox.

After more layers and details have been added. Many more layers must still to be applied.
View shows the entire left side completed.
Detail of left side.

View with the mailbox door open

Here is a view of the front.

Since the mailbox was old and worn-out, the handle was missing. I decided to use a round, wooden ball with a hole drilled in it. I decorated it to look like the other purple potatoes.

To attach, I used a little bit of glue in the hole and screwed the ball to the mailbox door.

Side detail view of the front and side of the mailbox. If you look carefully, you can see how the carrot's green top wraps around the corner, from side to front.
Here is where the mailbox resides!

The entire mailbox project, from the three (3) black basecoats to the final spray, took approximately18 hours. This time also includes the spray breaks, in between the layers. I must confess, I paint slowly and with many layers; another artist could probably produce this same piece in less time and others may work longer.

This was a fun project to do and I look forward to doing a more season specific mailbox, next; maybe a Valentine's Day or Fourth of July mailbox? Stay tuned...


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