Paint techniques Tips

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How do you paint a lace border?

Lace Border design

It is easy to design your own lace borders. For inspiration look at real lace and grab some examples. First, draw a grid on the surface using a compass and or ruler. Divide the space up evenly into segments and lines...squares or wedges. Begin painting one small step at a time. You will see some complex and intricate designs in painted lace, but they are mostly repetitive and begin with just one stroke. Lets say you want to start with a 1/2 circle line. So, between two points on the grid paint that half circle, then go to the next two points and paint that 1/2 circle. Don't concern yourself yet with the cross hatching, three commas and dots you want to do. They come later. Complete the 1/2 circle all the way around till you come back to where you started. Now look at the next might be a left comma. So do all the left commas in that place on the grid. Continue all the way around. Now repeat the process with each single stroke element of the deign and before you know it you will have designed some lace of your own. And done it freehand!

How do I paint Chezza bear fur?

Chezza bear Fur

Lots of people struggle with chezza bear fur. here is the basic to the whole thing using a feather filbert brush:
Load the brush with the thinned paint and test it on a scrap of paper - you should have fine, separate lines - you also need to use just light pressure with the brush - just a feathery touch.... too much pressure and all you end up with is a watery stripe. You may need to fiddle to get the right consistency - just keep adding small amounts of water and testing on paper - once it's right start on your fur...

How do I paint nice stripes?

Masking stripes and segments

The best way to mask off a section for stripes or a framed edge is to use a low tack tape. (If you don't the tape will lift the base painting...especially if it is fresh!) My choice is scotch magic tape. Get the wide one. Lay it to your edge that you wish to mask. Gently press firmly in place along that edge only. Complete your painting and remove as soon as you can. Avoid the hair dryer. Sometimes it can be difficult to lift of...use a craft knife to lift the edge to get you started. This knife is also useful to get tape strips to fit the area you are doing.

How do I double load a brush?

Double Loading a flat brush

Many of us struggle to double load a flat brush when we start out. There are several important factors.
1. Both colours of paint ought to be the same creamy consistency.
2. The right amount of moisture in your brush is needed. too much water will cause a flood on your brush and work, too little will prevent the colours blending nicely in the middle.
3. The blending strip is important. You place the corner of the brush in one colour and the other corner in the other. One colour on each side. I have heard and been taught to see this as a pair of cutains on a window. These two colours need to be blended together. This requires a surface to blend on and a good pressing down of the brush to open the bristles. So...the surface should not be too slippery. Some do successfully blend on a tile or plate but I find this too slick and the paints don't blend nicely. A disposable pallette paper can work provided it is not the waxy type. You need the one that is suitable for watercolour. In Australia and other places around the world the cardboard from used milk and long life drink cartons makes a good surface. (cleaned of course!) My favourite surface is the wet pallette itself, especially the commercially available Sta Wet pallette as the paper is the right tecture for blending, and the moistur of it keeps your blending strip nice and moist.
4. The blending of colour takes places as you pass the brush through the two colours on your blending press down and open up the bristles for about an inch of distance. The blend back up the inch, forward again and so on. Blending back and forth in this fashion allows the two colours to blend in the middle. You will need to refresh the load of colour on the brush as you run out of paint, and if you are on a wet pallette should use the same strip for blending. Each time you make a new one you are using more paint.

How do I overcome the need to paint straight lines?

Avoid long straight lines

Instead of doing a big long straight line for about 5-10 inches...which for many of us will not go nice and straight and even, try doing a broken line. Do small s strokes, do dots and dashes, try an inch of line and then a dot flower. You don't have to be able to pinstripe to get a nice lines. There are hundreds of ways to do it.

How do I paint Chezza bear fur?

Loading the rake or comb brush

I have to agree with Linda when she says "With this type of technique it is really shocking cause we do almost everything that we've been taught NOT to do to brush!"

Here is the way she describes doing it:
First, wet your brush. Then, lay the bristles down flat, bring the handle up straight so that the ferrule rest on the surface. Now, give that puppy a little twist so that the bristles spread way out. Ouch! Doesn't that just make you cringe?! This opens up the bristles and separates them. The paint consistency you need is about like ink. And because it is so thin and the bristles are so spread out, you will load it up to the ferrule! Cringe again! Now, with the brush straight up and down barely stroke a few hairs on a piece of scrap paper or scrap wood. You are going here to release the globs and clumps, so you get a nice spread out lines of hair.

Have fun with can be really cruel to this brush to be kind to your painting!

painting borders, using arm and shoulder, not hand


Paint substitutions can be successful and can be utter failures. A good rule of thumb is to use the product that was required by the pattern. If you don't you risk something not working quite right. For example, Jo Sonja retarder and having trouble keeping a nice fine straight line? Keep this in mind...whenever you move your fingers you are pushing the brush in a downward direction, make the bristles flare out and the line get thick. To keep a fine line fine lock your fingers and hand in a firm position. Don't move them as you execute the stroke. Imagine they are like a robot arm if you will. Do all the movement from your shoulder and elbow. Try it now while you read this. Pick up a pen. Now freeze your fingers and wrist. Touch the pen to the surface of some paper. Now draw a circle shape using only your elbow and shoulder as your moving parts. Your hand will go around and so will your fingers, but the pen is in the exact same position it up and down movement, no sideways movement. It is locked within your fingers. Now try it with a brush!

Can I use a pen for fine lines?

Using a Pen for fine lines

The best pen for using in writing and drawing fine lines on a painting or on fabric is the micron pigma pen. Be sure it is very dry before erasing lines or adding paint. You can heat set it but I suggest a 24 hour wait is good too.

How do I paint nice borders?


One way of painting nice borders is to make sure you have a couple of tools first. Drawing tools like rulers, squares, compasses and chalk pencils are useful. Draw a grid on the edge you are painting and use this as a guideline. After this you need an appropriately load liner brush.

Should I paint the inside?

Finishing inside boxes and drawers

Try some simple things for the insides:
Spatter it, Glaze it over wih another colour, Sponge it, Rag it, Glad wrap it! For all of these choose a colour that will compliment or contrats with the base colour. Dark blue and light blue for example. For a glaze, use a glazing medium. Brush it on and either leave it, or create texture with a sponge, finger, finger nail, rag, glad wrap, scrunched up paper or whatever. These are a quick easy way to jazz up the inside. You could also use Soft flock to imitate a felt lining. This is a product your can buy at some craft stores.

Is the any easy place to find a glossary?

Glossary of terms

Liquitex have a great data base of terms you can use to look up terms you have come across. Go to and type in the term you are looking for. They also have a great glossary of term related to paint in the link 'Fibe Art terminology'.

How do you ´glaze´ a shadow?


One way to glaze is to do this:
Brush some glazing medium where you need to lay in the color. Then, with the glazing medium still in the brush, side-load for a float and lay in the color. Keep a mop brush handy in case you need to soften. You can always do this with water also...same procedure.

Work quickly as the glaze medium will dry before you get to lay in the colour! This technique is good for small areas.

How do I overcome the need to paint straight lines?

Getting that nice fine line

I have to share with you my (re) discovery of the old fashioned fountain pen in my painting. I have used this pen in conjunction with FW Ink, a water-based ink and have had the greatest time getting neat writing and line work. The ink comes in many colours including gold, and of course pen nibs come in all sorts of varieties. Fine, bold, broad, left-handed etc. I wouldn't be using ink on a painting but the FW Ink is a waterbased medium that does dry fast and firm - no bleeding. This would be a wonderful tool for those of you needing something more cost effective for pen and wash techniques. A simple quill pen and FW Ink will save you heaps on felt tip pens!

What is dry brushing?

Dry brushing

Dry brushing is a techinque we use when we have the brush free of moisture. Blot your brush well before loading with paint, and then squeeze excess paint out. Lightly dust over the surface to be dry brushed. Use feathery strokes rather than full ones. This will leave light traces of your paint on the surface. Repeat to build up colour.

How do I paint faux leather?

Faux leather

There are lots of ways of doing this but here is an easy one for you. Coat the surface with a coat of multipurpose sealer. From this point work one surface at a time. Recoat the surface with the selaer. While it is wet place on the tissue paper. The finish here is up to you...scrunch it up or smooth it out. I like it some where in between, not too ripply. Brush the paper down with more sealer. Allow it to dry well and trip the edges where sides meet with a craft knife. When dry coat with black paint. ...or a paint of your colour choice. You can leave it like this or get a cheap cruffy brush dust a lighter colour to the raised areas. Do this with a dry brush, and after putting paint on it wipe the excess off on paper towel first. Lightly dray this dry brush over the surceas to catch the raised areas.

How do I paint fine lines?

Fine lines in high spots

Sometimes the item you are painting is too high off the surface to paint nice lines on. Try placing a stack of telephone books or similar beside the work so they are at the same height as the surface you are painting...then rest your forearm on this while you paint the lines.

How do I paint Chezza bear fur?

Rake brush fur

Once you have your brush loaded you might like to add some character to the fur you are painting. Here are some suggestions from Lynda V

Try layering the hair, build it up. Do curly hair, by doing little "c" strokes. Make them go one way then connect a second "c" stroke at the
bottom of the first but make the stroke backwards so the "c" goes the opposite direction. Play with it. Soon you will be making wonderful hair.
I have also found it good fun to do S strokes with it and to change the angle of the way you start and finish strokes. Do some 's' strokes with the brush at verying degrees of angle. I use this kind of stroke for moustaches on santas.

How do I paint fine lines?


The loading of the liner brush is the most important bit in your line work. The paint for fine lines must be thin like ink, and for nice commas can be thicker at the tip. When loading the liner, be aware that you load it by holding the brush low to the pallette surface and pulling the full length of the hairs through the thinned paint. As you leave your pallette be sure the brush hairs have formed a point. If you want a nice rounded end for the beginning of a comma stroke, tip the brush into a little thicker paint.

What is a double loaded flat brush?

Double Loading a flat brush

Double loading a flat brush is a method we use to get two colours down at once. Consider the shape to the brush as a window. Dip one corner in one colour and the other in another. You have put curtains on the window. now these two colours need to be blended together by pressing down on the bristles and sweeping back and forth in a small strip of about 1-2 inches. the colours need to blend in the middle. Be sure to add more colour to the brush when needed, but always blend them before using them.

How do I paint fine lines?

Fine lines

The best way to get nice lines with your painting is to start with thinned paint. You can use water for this. Use your brush to add water to the paint puddle and brush mix for a thin ink like consistency. Unlike using other brushes, load the liner brush with the handle low to the surface (not upright) and lay the bristles in the paint. Give a wiggle and pull the hairs from the paint so they come to a point. A nice pointy brush is what you want. When painting lines control the width of them by only pressing the very tip of the brush to the surface. maintian the same width by moving from the shoulder rather than the fingers or wrist. That is...pretend your fingers, hand and wrist are frozen. the only way to move is with your shoulder and limited movement through your elbow. Use the support of a phone book or something similar to rest your arm on so you remain steady if the piece is high off your table surface.

Where can I get lessons in Rosemaling?

Rosemaling lessons

You can get lessons on line with Joan Dahl. You don't need to leave home! She currently resides in Norway but will be moving to Florida USA in 2001. You can contact her through the web site
or email her at

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William Pirraglia