How to faux finish a painting?

franksmom_2010May 9, 2010

I posted this on the paint forum, then realized this was probably the better place. Anyway, I have a painting that was done in craft-quality acrylics, and I'd like to give it an antique look. Like the way that old oil paintings look when the finish crackles and dirt settles in the cracks.

Can I do the Elmer's crackle finish and use a water based stain for the top coat? I don't want to totally obscure the painting details, just soften up the edges, and make it look older than it is. Has anyone done anything like this?

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I've done something similar with decoupage. After I coated the completed project with the acrylic decoupage finish, I put on the crackle finish then gently rubbed stain over it with a soft cloth to antique it. I don't see why the same technique wouldn't work with an acrylic painting but I think you need to first apply a clear coat of acrylic finish over the entire painting for the crackle medium to 'crack'. I don't think you want to apply it directly to the paint itself. Make a small sample board and try it first.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:37PM
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Test pieces are time and surface savers. Crackle uses two different colors of paint to create the cracks, I don't know if it will work with the stain. Can the stain be added without messing up the crackle medium? Have you thought about using a dark colored paint. I often use Burnt Umber for antiquing. As Kraftymom stated I would certainly seal the art before trying anything on it.

I watch a lot of Antique Road Show and most of the old, found this in the attic, paintings have damage in small areas but can be "dirty" all over.

So....have fun and how about a picture.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 10:35AM
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Hi again! Thanks so much for the info!

I did more poking around on the net, and they do make a one-step crackle medium, that you don't have to apply the top layer of paint to make it crackle. There are a few brands, so I hope to find at least one of them when I go to the craft store. Two of the brands both have directions for exactly the finish I'm looking for...if it works.

I'll definitely be doing a test piece, using the same paints, because I don't want to ruin my painting.

As for the guys are like *real* painters here? I'm very good at painting walls, furniture, lamps, etc., but I have zero talent for painting pictures. I do have a great love and appreciation for odd, quirky things, though, so I've done a paint-by-numbers painting for our bathroom. Tacky? Maybe, but I like it, and think it's kind of neat that I did it myself for our home. I'd like to see it with an antiqued finish, and framed in a distressed frame.

If it turns out well, I'll post pics. I have a whole set of vintage PBN that I want to finish for our bedroom. Can you imagine a whole wall done in the same 2 or 3 paintings?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 8:51PM
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The one-step crackle is all I ever use, so much easier. You still have to put a layer of paint or finish on to create the crackle look. Usually you apply a painted basecoat then another painted color over that, then the crackle medium. The top layer of paint cracks revealing the first color of the basecoat underneath in the cracks.
But as I mentioned above that first layer can be just a clear acrylic finish and you can then apply your crackle medium over THAT. The clear finish will crack and then you can antique over the crackle finish to emphasize the cracks. It's sort of the same thing in reverse.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 11:48AM
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Franksmom.....Thanks for including me as being a real painter...which made me laugh, not at you, but being called a real painter. I think most of us here don't feel we have talent, only a desire to try, just like you have a desire to paint walls. I can't even being to decide what colors to use let alone think the colors will look good together and give me the tranquil feeling I am striving to create. My every so soft blue wall came out so wrong!

As to your "paint by number" pattern, think we all have done that at some point in our lives, but the most important part is that you like it! I don't like my blue walls!!!!!


    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 2:34PM
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Belle, I had written a long, thoughtful, response, and it never posted.

Anyway, to tone down those walls, maybe you could try a whitewash or glaze? The thing I have learned is that those tiny paint chips never look the same as the paint on your wall. Never. Most brands sell little sample pots now, so you can try a swatch on your wall, and I always think doing a spot on each wall of the room is a good idea.

I like to paint furniture more than anything else. I refinish, as well. In my next life, that's what I'd do full time. It's so gratifying to take a worn, beaten, abused piece of furniture from the thrift or a garage sale, and turn it into something new and pretty.

I'm amazed by people that can take a blank canvas and just start painting stuff, and it turns out. I do better with the confines of walls and edges, things that have a definite beginning and end.

The paint by numbers is special to me, and I'm excited to get it finished. I made a trip to town today, bought varnish, crackle medium, stain, a mat, and a nifty frame. If I don't wreck it, I'll post some pics when I'm done.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 9:52PM
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Franksmom....want to hear the corker about the walls? I painted it while DH was gone for the evening and he didn't notice the change. My two kids and their children were in the next day and no one noticed. So I didn't say a word. Don't remember if he ever noticed or I pointed it out to him.

I like that you want to restore things, I hate it when anyone just throws something away and we seem to be a "throw away" society now days.

I am not creative in any sense! But I can copy most anything or at least I thought I could until I tackled pansy's. Guess it just takes practice, at least I hope that's it. Now I want to do some roses...quess that means more practice, kind of like playing the piano.

You sound like me when you said, "I made a trip to town today," do you live in the country. I live about 20 miles from the nearest town.

PS...wel all loose posts!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 10:24AM
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Hi Belle!

That's so funny about your husband not noticing the paint! I recently replaced all of the hardware in our bathroom, and my husband hasn't said a word!

One of my favorite pieces of furniture is a small child-sized chest of drawers. I bought it at a thrift for $3. When I got it home, my husband asked if it was kindling for the was in really bad shape, but looked like it had originally been a well-made piece. I reglued all of the joints, stripped off the bad layers of paint and decals, filled in the dog chew marks, painted it white, and added some vintage drawer pulls. It turned out really nice, and when it was done, my husband asked "Where did you get that?" Good grief!

I'd just rather have furniture made of real wood, even if it takes some tlc to make it useable. My husband's friend moved, and the Mrs. couldn't decide where to put all of the furniture, so they put it in the back yard. Well, it rained, and they woke up to all of their particleboard and laminate furniture warped and melted. I'll take my old, well-worn wood over new out of a box any day!

We live in the pseudo country. We're just a few miles from "town" but there's not much there. The closest thing we have to craft supplies are Home Depot and Walmart. If I need anything they don't have (which isn't much) it's a 25 mile trip to the big city. I do all sorts of other crafts, so I usually wait until I have a list going before I make the trip. We haven't lived here very long, and we moved from the city, where there was anything you could think of within a 5 mile radius, so it's been a bit of an adjustment.

I put the crackle finish on this morning, and it looks great! It's really humid today, so I'm going to let that sit a day or so before I finish it. Woohoo!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 1:40PM
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Seems this site has lost another post...I posted here yesterday and POOF! it's gone. So lets try it again!

Our local TV station, over 100 miles away, ran a special on this couple who purchased a new home and didn't have any furniture, so they started "curb" shopping as well as thrift stores, ect. They would buy junky, old stuff and repair and paint them. What they didn't want for their home they sold. Doing this they paid off their mortgage in 8 years.

Painting walls: Back when my children were very young, I painted their walls. My DD's room had a blue sky with puffy white clouds, a green hill with a castle, unicorns and a princess and her true love. My DS's room was a western corral with horses and cow...ooops...those are steers and a few cowboys thrown in. I also painted our really, pure white kitchen a bright, creamy pumpkin orange. The landlord OK'd all of this but thought I was crazy, he wife, a teacher, thought I was really cool. This was 47 years ago when only Hippies painted walls. Oh! And the landlord didn't make me paint before we moved out.

We have so little sun for most of the year I really hate to put a dark color anywhere, but I might look towards a demiun blue or anything other than what I have yet. I thought about using a small amount but really thought I have the perfect color....ya! right! Might try adding the denium blue over the light blue with a very stiff roller so that the lighter color shows through....I'll get it right someday and layers of paint later.

Glad your crackly is turning out OK, I am rarely happy with anything I do using crackle.....don't forget pictures.

It is really great chatting with you!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 11:21AM
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Belle, it's been fun talking with you, too!

A lot of people don't "get" the whole old/refurbished furniture thing. I think some of my family members keep hoping I'll buy "better" furniture. Really, I like having a home that doesn't look like everyone else's, or like out of a page of a Roomstore catalog. I bought a pair of Queen Anne chairs at a garage sale today. $10! Woo! They need some love and new fabric for the seats, but they're sound, and just what I was looking for.

Here it is! The painting done by the numbers:

The crackle finish itself turned out just like I wanted, sort of fine and alligator-y in places, and thicker cracks in others. I think where I went wrong (but not *so* wrong) was the stain. I used a waterbased Oak stain. If I were to do it again, I'd either find a paler shade, or water it down a bit. I did do test patches on the back, and found that the crackle was much better without varnishing first. That may all be due to user error. Again, NOT a decorative painter. Here it is, with a mat and in a refreshed thrift store frame:

It's going to be hung in a prominent place (over the toilet...uhem...) in my master bathroom, done in these textiles:

It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot, and hopefully made new friends! I may lurk around here and see if I can learn anything else from you guys! Thanks again for all of the words of encouragement! Now, on to the other paintings!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 9:14PM
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And y'all won't hurt my feelings if you think it's tacky or weird, or whatever. I have my own "special" decorating style, and I'm totally ok with it. It's not everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine.

The story behind the painting is, I had bought the kit a while ago, and never got around to painting it. Set it aside in the craft room for another day, and moved on. I bought that towel when I was shopping for another bathroom, and lost the receipt, so I've had the one lone towel that didn't match anything. That curtain fabric, I found that at Walmart, of all places, and just fell in love with it. Every shopping trip, I would look at it and wonder what I could make with it. One day, I broke down and bought a few yards, having no plan in mind.

So, I was finishing up a sewing project, and cleaning up the craft room, and was looking at that fabric. Suddenly, I remembered that towel! It was a nice match, and we have a really ugly bathroom that I had no plans for, so I decided to make the curtain and buy more towels, but I needed something for the wall. Bingo! Pulled out that PBN, and the paint colors looked like they would be a reasonable match, and the rest is history!

We're almost done with that bathroom makeover, and I actually like the room, now. Maybe someday we'll gut it and start over, but in the meantime, it looks so much better!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 11:23PM
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Wow, wow, wow, are you kidding? Paint by numbers??? This is so beautiful and your frame and mat really top it off. I keep going back for another look at your paint by number. I'm amazed.

Please stick around and post with us. I'd love to see all of your creations. I still have a desk and chair to finish, sometime.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 9:17PM
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Hi Punk! Thanks so much! I really enjoyed doing it. I'd paint a little each evening, until it was done. I may have embelished it a little, but it's definitely a paint by numbers. I wish I had just done the crackle finish and left it, but maybe next time?

It's hung in the used-to-be-ugly bathroom, and looks shmashing next to the curtain! Woohoo! I'm so happy with how that bathroom has turned out so far, and we're not even done yet!

I'd like to hang out with you guys. I've been lurking at old threads, and you seem like a fun bunch. I have a list (!) of furniture waiting to be redone. I need to hurry up, because soon enough it'll be too hot here to work outside. Again, NOT a decorative painter, but I do like to think that I can see the potential in old ratty things.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 11:02PM
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I've followed this post while not contributing because I had no information that would be helpful. It's been very interesting.

Love how your picture turned out and the frame looks great with it. How fun that your fabric and towel were purchased at different times and then matched up--always nicest to be able to use colors and patterns you love in your rooms.

There's not many of us on this forum, so we really hope you will stick around and join in anytime.

Decorative painting can include lots of things. Many of us have used it on everything from furniture to flowerpots--it's a great way to spruce up treasures found at yard sales, thrift stores, curb side, etc. Many of us are always looking for trays, boxes, plaques, etc. that we can use for painting surfaces. We used to have a member who painted the most amazing chairs! So stick around and share your ideas and opinions with us--it'll be fun.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 11:02AM
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Your painting turned out great, and what a great find on the frame!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Franksmom........That's one awesome painting...did you get that......painting!
Paint by numbers isn't that much different from the patterns we all follow. Most things that I paint have a pattern that I trace and transfer to whatever surface I am painting on, then follow the instructions as to what color of paint to put where. Sound more like paint by number just took out a few steps in the prep

It sounds like you have a really great bathroom. It's you that chose all of the patterns and colors. Somewhere at the back of your mind seeds were planted and at the right time it just flowered.

Back to the antiquing, I use oil based stains more than acrylic because it stay plyable longer which allows me to remove more of the stain if I wish. But whatever you used, it was fuuurfect!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 12:06PM
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Wow! That is the best looking paint by number I've ever seen! You must have a talent for painting even if you won't admit it. ha Belle is right. What I do is very close to paint by number too. I apply the pattern and then follow the directions on what to paint where and in what order. I bet you'd love it if you gave it a try. There are lots of free tole patterns online that you could try. So glad you shared your painting with us and it looks awesome in the frame and the fabrics and colors you chose should be beautiful! And I agree...always do what YOU love when decorating! People probably feel like they've walked into a Cracker Barrel store when they come in my house. ha I have old saws hanging on the wall, my gpas canes hanging from shelf pegs, even a horse bridle, old bottles, and lots of Americana. But my husband and I love old things and try to find a way to display them. Hope you'll come back again! ~Anj

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 12:39PM
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You are all so sweet!

Thanks so much for all of the kind words! When I finished that painting, I just wasn't happy with all of it, so I remixed the background color, and some of the parts that were too dark, I added some highlights, and the parts that were to light, I added some darker details.

That frame was a great find. We changed out the hardware from brass to brushed nickel, so when I spotted that frame, I knew it was perfect. It had a few scuffs, so I just cleaned it and touched it up with some Rub 'n Buff.

I had no idea that a lot of painting is done that way. So, you mostly just color in a traced pattern? I could maybe do that! I actually have a book on tole/decorative painting, but bought it mostly for the info on paints and brushes. It's been really helpful, but the brush strokes seem so complicated. I guess the key is practice?

As far as decorating goes, I'm all for a little quirky. And above all, decorate with what you love.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:02PM
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I'm a self taught painter so I'm sure I don't paint the "right" way, but I enjoy it so much and just do my own thing. I have an addiction to tiny brushes. I feel like I have more control with them. I think just give it a try and do your own thing and if it comes out like you like it then it will be great. I do it mostly for relaxation. If you need some pointers on transferring your pattern just ask and I'm sure any of us would be glad to help. I am working on an updated post for the freebie sites we've found over the years. I'll try to get it posted soon and you can check out the sites and hopefully find something that's good for you. We all have different styles here so anything goes. We are happy to have new people to paint and visit with!! A few of us here are total TS junkies so we love to share and talk about our finds and redo's. Most everything I paint on comes from the TS! ~Anj

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:31PM
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OH! have the bug! Touched up your have the bug!

My home is "now" being decorated for myself not for others....and for me coming from a very "proper, defined background breaking free is a real challenge. I love Anj description of her home, that's me! And like Anj., no lessons here, just trial and lots of errors!

Going back to you taking up a paint brush and painting without numbers, I have listed several sites you might like to check out. As all of us here have different interests, I hope I have listed something that will spark you interest.

You can also go back and check out some of the paintings listed here or in the "gallery" page, most of us list the artist that furnished the pattern and most artists have websites that can be google.

So...think about it....


PS there are a lot of other video's listed on the site below,

Patricia has a lot of free video's that I have found to be helpful with my brush strokes. If you computer starts and stop during a video, just pause it until it has completely downloaded and then hit the play button.

I use this site as a resource site as well as check out the artists, if I like sometime in the catalog I search their name online.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 12:35PM
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Now, one said anything about any kind of bug. I just tweeked that painting a little, because it didn't look right to me.

So, I've been reading my decorative painting book, and I'm a little frustrated by the author's lack of commitment about paint. Do you have a brand you prefer, or does it just depend, and if so, on what?

I've started the next round of PBN's, and I'm using a mix of Delta, Apple Barrel, and Folk Art paints, and I'm not terribly happy with any of them. Some of the Delta colors are so transluscent, it's almost like a gel. What's up with that?

I hope these paintings turn out ok. They're vintage, from the late '50's-early '60's, and the original paints weren't useable, so color-wise, I'm making it up as I go. This is going to be a total of 8 paintings (four of each kind) and if it turns out like I hope, the effect will be sort of Andy Warhol meets Rachel Ashwell.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 10:35PM
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pezabelle have me smiling! "I'm using mixes" your painting girl!

As to the type of paints to use, most often I use Delta or Deco Americana. For the most part it is whichever brand you started out with or what is called for in the pattern you are using and the problems of mixing colors to match the designers colors. If you are used to using oils in your PBM's then acrylics are going to be a shocker. With most oils one stroke covers the canvas, with acrylics you need to "base" paint which can be several layers of the same paint. Especially if you want a smooth surface. Oil are not thinned, most all of acrylic paints are thinned with water or mixed with other mediums. And you shade or highlight over the base coat.

One thing I just learned from Patricia Rawlinson is how to mix paints. She uses a few base colors and then mixes them together to come up with a family of color. Something I didn't know is that when you have say a blue mix and you also have a yellow in your palette, use a touch of that yellow to help make a eye friendly color. You might check out her ToleTV lessons. They are free and are listed above.

I also make small chips of the color I want to use and move them around each other, one color might look good next to two colors but not the fourth or fifth color, here's where blending a touch of color one in the fourth or fifth colors will help them blend together. In general I don't like to mix colors....I like someone else to do the work for me so I can just paint. Lazy me!

Also, look to your brush's. Oil paint brushes are not always the same as used for acrylics. Acrylics are most often softer.

So, what book are you looking at?

Hope this helps, Belle

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 12:11PM
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Hi again, Belle!

And thank you for all of the links! I'll be checking those out. I'm about to get a lot busier, but I'm really enjoying this. I paint a little each morning and each evening, and it's so relaxing! Maybe I'll end up doing some things (besides furniture) for around the house. We moved here less than a year ago, and this house is much bigger than our last house, so I'm the middle of trying to decorate the whole place. Most rooms are coming along, but we don't have hardly anything in the way of accessories or wall art.

That first PBN was acrylic, but these vintage ones were meant to be done in oils, but I'm using acrylics. The board is ?'s like a heavy, barely textured cardboard. I'm almost done with #1-4, but did a basecoat of a watered down white for #5-6. I'll try a sealer plus basecoat for #7-8. I'm using a smallish round brush, which I love! I find that I can get a fine line when I need it, but it works well for filling in larger areas. I'm still working out the colors. I know this is the backwards way of doing it, but I'm kind of figuring it out as I go. Good thing there's 8 paintings, right?

The book is "The Complete Book of Decorative Painting" by Tera Leigh. It seems pretty thorough, but I have nothing to compare it to. I don't remember when or why I bought it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 9:13PM
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You are moving right along with your painting. Good for you. You are so right about the different paints. Some are very thin like the Apple Barrel ones and others are thicker like the Folk Art ones--but none will be like the oil paints. Most of us have some of each brand--and use whichever ones fit the project we're working on. Remember if a paint is too thick, a tad of water worked in will thin it. Doing two to three coats is not unusual for full coverage. Can't wait to see your next projects--and yes, you ARE painting. ;o)


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 12:17AM
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FM, I am glad to hear you are interested in decorative painting, it is a lot of fun and can be learned. You can choose to use patterns or not, the patterns are meant to be guides. I too am a self-taught painter and for the record the book you have is a very good one because it covers everything you need to know about any project from start to finish with loads of other info on tools, techniques, and finishes. The projects in that book would be a very good place to start.

I have so many brands of paint but like Luvs said I choose the paint for the project I am working on. But as far as none being like oils....There are mediums you can add to acrylic to make them act like oils and FolkArts HD paint works very much like oils without using any mediums. I started painting with oils back in the day and switched to acrylics over the years. The beauty of acrylics is that they can be acrylics but can also act as watercolors or oils...very versatile.

Besides the links that Belle gave there are lots of other painting sites with free patterns, projects, video tutorials and more, way too many to list here but you might enjoy the projects on the following sites...

And my favorite link to various artists who will sometimes have a project or two on their site:

I buy the majority of my books on-line and very rarely pay more than $2-$3 a book. My favorite sources are... (they change their sale about every other month)

and artist club, in that order.

Have fun painting! Don't forget to show us pics.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 2:52PM
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You guys! So, I did a thin wash of thinned white paint on two of my boards. I started painting those this morning, and the differnce is amazing! The color is much richer and much more opaque, and seems to just flow better. And I might have finally gotten my colors right. Too bad I didn't figure all of this out before painting the first FOUR paintings. *sigh* They don't look horrible, and I may leave them as-is rather than going back and messing with them, but I think I'm on to something now.

Thanks so much for all of the links! This is addicting, isn't it?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:39PM
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