Artists & Gilders Decorative Studio
Ross O'Neal Inc.

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Faux Techniques
How to paint clouds?

I'm looking for suggestions for painting decorative white clouds on an existing sky blue ceiling.
I think this would be perfect for our new baby's room. I do not have much artistic skill and do not
want to spend an enormous amount of time but I'd like the clouds to be recognizable and not too
garish. Is there a special kind of sponge I could use?

There are as many ways to paint skies as there are leaves on trees. What we will do here is
cover one way of doing them to create a realistic effect. Hopefully, it will improve the way many
of you have done them in the past, or provide a new method for those yet to try it.
What you'll need for this technique:
Acrylic glaze medium
Acrylic colors -- white, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, yellow ocher, and alizarin crimson
Several sea sponges
Two or three three-inch flat wall brushes
Badger blender
When painting a large area of sky on the ceiling or wall, it's best to mix a substantial amount of the deeper blue with our acrylic glaze, which we will use on the top of the wall or center of the ceiling --
depending on where we will be painting our sky. We will then mix some of this with white, to make
our next gradated color of pale blue. This we will then mix with still more white for a paler blue yet,
 finally blending into an almost white or "golden sunset" at the bottom.
When doing a ceiling, I blend from deep blue in the center out to a very light blue along the edges
 (photo 1). When done properly, this will add height to the room. I like the effect of blending to a
pale yellow above the windows -- assuming there is a light source, such as windows, in the room.
As we paint out our colors on the surface, we will leave a tidemark between the two shades. This
mark is blended by brushing across carefully, using vertical strokes to give it a tight, zigzag pattern
(photo 2). Then blend it with the badger blender horizontally, to smooth the intermediate shade
where the two have mixed (photo 3).

Once we're done with this, we then mix our acrylic glaze with white. With our sea sponge, we
begin to block in our clouds (photo 4). At this time, we can also add some additional color to the
cloud as we desire. We now blend out our cloud, blending up, then softly horizontally (photo 5). We then take our sea sponge and mottle the cloud (photo 6). The sponge should be softened in water, but
allow it to retain a little water -- not enough that it will run down your arm when pressed into the
cloud surface, but just enough to open up the glaze when we blend it. I normally blend in one
direction, at one o'clock and five o'clock. This opens it up very nicely (photo 7). Continue this
process across the ceiling at your desired locations.

Theory: Here are a few thoughts on the subject of clouds. The blue in the sky is deepest overhead, and gradually gets paler towards the horizon. In drier climates, on clear days, the change is not very
strong. In humid climates, it can change from deep blue overhead to a very pale blue (almost white) down to the horizon. Cerulean blue, widely available in many brands, is derived from the Latin word "caelum," meaning "sky." In my opinion, it's wise to stay away from cerulean blue. I find it has a
sort of turquoise harshness to it, even when mixed with white. Ultramarine is a darker, warmer blue. Of course, the color you use largely depends on your own taste.

When we painted murals, my instructor from France used to quote the French artist Boucher, who allegedly said, "The problem with nature is that it is too green and poorly lit!" A lot can be done to
 avoid this possible imbalance by careful choice of your sky blue. On occasions, I have even added a hint of purple to match a large expanse of sky in an indoor painting with a particular color scheme.
Clouds come in various forms, and contain various degrees of shade. The dreamy and romantic
ones are cirrus clouds: They are the high, wispy ones often seen in isolation against a clear sky
 (photo 8). The shape of such clouds can give rise to all kinds of emotions, and the presence of one or two of them can make all the difference in what might otherwise be a rather empty, monotonous
 blue sky.

Nimbus clouds are the large, bulbous, solid-looking clouds, usually with white edges and gray undersides (photo 9). They create a strong impression against a blue sky, but you must be careful not to make them look too hard and regular in shape.
Your sky can also be broken up with areas of soft, mottled clouds without hard edges, which will
give a vaporish tone to the painting (photo 10). They're the ones I like the best on eight-foot ceilings in bedrooms. I recently finished a ceiling in a six-year-old girl's room. She came home from school
and ran up the stairs to check on the progress of her room. She stood there, looking at her ceiling
with a sense of astonishment, and said, "Why are you painting a hole in my ceiling?" What is that saying? From the mouths of babes...

When painting clouds in a large area, I normally start by doing a clear sky, and then making an
 outline of the cloud area -- not in white, but a lighter version of the sky blue base. You should then
 fill the areas in question with yet a lighter shade, and gradually take it towards white in its densest parts. Shading would be added where required, normally soft, purplish gray to light gray in color
Again, avoid hard edges. (This is what's nice about using a Filbert brush or sea sponge.) Then,
you go back and highlight the light source with some creamy yellows.

Painting water

Replying to Original Article:
I could use some input. A client is wanting me to faux paint her bathroom walls, giving them somewhat the look of water. The walls are already a medium blue color that is in good shape. Any creative suggestions? I wouldn't mind repainting the base coat, if need be.
If your looking to just create the look of water you can glaze in blue and add deeper tones of blue and white in lateral stokes across the glazed wall and blend.
Vinegar Recipe

Replying to Original Article:
I have heard of using vinegar and tint to faux finish wood. What kind of tint? Etc. thank you
1 part water 1 part cider vinegar plus dry powder pigments you can use stale beer in place of vinegar


Replying to Original Article:
Does anyone have any recipes for making your own crackle product. I am an artist from Nova Scotia Canada. I would like to crackle over my paintings, use a linseed oil over the cracks, then enhance the look by rubbing a burnt umber oil paint over this. This will give the appearance of an old painting. I find the products on he market so expensive. Help...I need a recipe for making my own - preferably a 2 part process.
Apply a 3 hour gold size on the surface. Allow the size to tack up then apply diluted gum Arabic or clear shellac, let dry. Cracks will appear in 2 to 4 hours. To speed up the process and make larger cracks use a hair dryer. Let set for 12 hours, apply a dark glaze, let set 15 to 30 minutes then wipe off. glaze will remain in the cracks only.
Replying to Original Article:
How do you do the brown paper wall technique?

Technique: Brown bag walls
I use the Home Depot $7 roll of red rosin builder paper because it saturates the best for my faux effect and it is 500 square feet. I have calculated that this roll, once torn and applied does about the equivalent of 10 singles. I usually do the tearing of the paper off the job while at home the night before. I tear the factory edge off first and then keep them separated. I tear the rest up into any size that comes natural. I put them in garbage bags and take to the job.

All walls are primed first with DT No Run, with minimal dry time.  I do not do any additional wrinkling or crumpling of dry pieces as you might have seen on t.v. decorating shows. I just don't see any added look that warrants the time and effort.

We paste the pieces by hand with GH 34.  I book each piece and the more they relax, the better but there is a fine line just like in regular wallpaper.

I usually outline the ceiling, door frames, windows, baseboard...anything straight with the factory edge torn pieces, then I fill in with the regular pieces. It goes fast and of course, there are no rules...anything goes really.

I have learned that I can seal with the DT No Run while the wall is still wet. I like for it to dry completely. The DT is non directional and self-leveling over the paper.

I also like the effect unsealed. It really looks like soft suede, but I only suggest this in bedrooms, low-traffic areas where not much hand touching would happen.

Color washing is really simple if you give it a coat of DT first and let it dry. The color wash formula of one-to-one latex flat paint and water just glides right over and the spotting effect still shows.