Tips on Painting and Finishing
  • If you are using computer printed “art”, wallpaper, or any other mini printed on an ink-jet printer or colour copier, you will eventually have a problem with fading. Liquitex Gel Medium solves the problem. Just paint a thin layer on the printed picture. It comes in gloss or matte finishes, or you can mix a dab of each to create your own semi-gloss. It goes on white, but dries clear. The colors will stay true even in direct sunlight. You can paint it thick on any picture cut out of a magazine, with brush strokes to match the picture to make it look like a painting. No glass is needed to cover the picture. It also cleans up with water.
  • Observe full-size items, first noting color. As much as size, colour has to be in scale too. Tone everything down. Even if an apple is bright red in real life, tone it down for miniatures. Use a great many shades of color to create dimension, even if it is a piece of furniture. If everything is one color, it is hard-looking. You want your pieces to be soft and have dimension. On lacquered pieces, use an oil-based glaze to bring down the tone. Mute even antique petit point using anything – coffee, tea, commercial dyes – that will give the desired look. 
  • How to steady your hand and brush while painting – Relax! That starts with your face and neck muscles. First loosen your lower jaw. No, you don't have to sit there with your mouth hanging open, just unclamp your teeth. Next, pry your tongue away from the roof of your mouth. Any time you concentrate, it is clamped up there behind your teeth and it does feel very odd if you just let it hang there in the middle of your mouth. But loosening your tongue muscles also loosens them in your neck, shoulder, arm and fingers and helps you paint that perfect delicate line. I have no idea why this works. (Denise Pritchett/D'leprechaun, Bowie, MD)
  • To achieve a swirl effect on walls or ceilings, spread spackle, then use a toothbrush to make swirls or other patterns. The brush cleans up rapidly, so you should scrape it clean frequently for the best results.
  • Leaving paint brushes in cleaning fluid and resting on their bristles causes them to bend and spread, making them useless for accurate painting. Preserve the shape of the brush by suspending it in the fluid. Cut a narrow V-shaped slot in a card disk larger than the mouth of the bottle of cleaning fluid. Press the handle of the brush in the V notch to suspend the bristles in the cleaner between painting jobs.
  • When you wash out sable or other expensive brushes after using them for watercolour or acrylic, place a drop or two of Woolite on the brushes to get them really clean and leave them in excellent condition, then rinse them in clear water. When you clean brushes that have been used for oil-based paints and have been cleaned in solvent, rinse them in a little water that’s had some cream rinse added to it, then rinse them in clear water. This will help recondition the brushes that the solvent would dry out too quickly. If these hints are followed, brushes will last a lot longer and keep their shape.
  • To age furniture or buildings, attack the project with a strong wire brush sold as a “file cleaner” by scratching and/or pounding wherever wood rot or heavy wear look is desired. For a piece of lawn furniture, like a lawn chair, it is more effective to attack the wood before it is glued up into the chair. Use a knife to simulate cracks and breaks. Make some actual breaks in slats of seat or an arm and repair with another piece of wood glued underneath, but add some pins cut off to look like nails. 
  • To age wood, soak steel wool in vinegar or use this recipe:1 pint (450 ml.) alcohol, 1 ½ tbsp. black India ink, 1 ½ tbsp. brown India ink. Mix together and use to paint on any wood to grey it to an aged look. Test on scrap wood first and adjust degree of grey by adding drops of whichever colour will give the desired result.
  • Paint the project with aging liquid and allow to dry even if it is to be painted. If the project is to be painted, then paint it all over with rubber cement (not contact cement) and allow to dry. Use a foam brush, and a daubing motion to paint project desired colour using acrylic or latex paint. Because of the rubber cement, the paint will tend to look lumpy and bubbled as old paint applied in many layers does. When project is dry, some paint can be removed in wear areas using sandpaper. Use a knife to lift paint off some places too. If the colour looks too new, apply a wash using burnt umber, raw sienna, and, perhaps, some yellow ochre paint in a lot of water and paint it all over the project. If it is a building, allow this wash to dribble down wherever rain might run.