New Experimental Painting Method For Metal Art


Oil Based Color Wash

Over the years of making various metal sculpture and decor pieces, I have experimented with several finishing techniques.  There is a lot of talk in gamer forums about using color washes with acrylic paints to add a weathered and more authentic look to game pieces and figurines.  Recently, while examining a random scrap piece of steel tread plate, the idea bulb went on over my head.  With the rough texture that the tread offers, why not try a color wash based on oil so I’d have the added benefits of rust prevention as well.  I wanted the bare metal and tread to show through but be distinctly colored as well.  The way I accomplished this was picking up a can of Rustoleum Subrusnrise Red and adding that to some Flood Penetrol.  Penetrol is basically an oil based paint modifyer to help with brush marks and leveling.  It is basically linseed oil, alkyd oil and mineral spirits.  By adding at least twice the amount of Penetrol as the amount of oil based paint, the color becomes more translucent and collects in uneven pools somewhat like water color.  For non-porous surfaced like the tread plate, it is best to apply the mixture only in the horizontal position so it will level off and dry properly.


Brazed Nail Midcentury Modern Tread Plate Wall Art

To the sculpture above I did apply my color wash rather liberally so it took about three days to dry completely.  The Penetrol will slow down the drying time of oil based paints considerably.  Outside of that minor flaw, I am stoked with the addition of a new technique in my arsenal of metal working skills.  The Brazed Nail Midcentury Modern Tread Plate Wall Art is available in my Etsy shop.

Awesome Silver Metallic Spray Paint


Metallic Spray Paint for Artists and Crafters.

It is not too often you will hear of anyone praising a generic store brand product from a home improvement store for craft use.  But this gem of a spray paint is certainly an exception.  I was expecting a typical dull metallic silver paint.  I was quite delighted to create an almost polished chrome look on my candle holders.  All I did was apply white oil based primer for clean ferrous metal.  Then I smoothed out any fish eyes or any other blemishes.  Once smooth,  I applied a very light coat at first.  I waited 10 minutes then applied a couple more coats.  The beauty with this paint is it dries to the touch in 10 minutes and fully dry in an hour.  You can apply more coats at any time!  See the candle holder set to view the finish or check it out in my Etsy shop.

IMAG3003 IMAG3002

Basecoats for Metallic Paints


Dry Brushing a Flat Base

Took me awhile to realize that the mica based metallic paints can be toned by the color and shade of the base coat underneath.  Although the paints may appear opaque they are actually translucent, especially the lighter colors and when sprayed.  At the end of the post Whimsicle Curves and Spirals Part One,  I had three different colored base coats of flat colors brushed on the primed metal.  The colors were chosen to get the most mileage of the top coat.  I picked a magent for the pearl magenta, ultramarine blue for the pearl blue, and a few coats of brownish yellow and yellow for the lime green pearl sphere. 


Light Coating For Good Adhesion

The results of those finishes can be seen on the second part of the whimsicle curves post.  This post will concern itself with the support base for the whimiscle curve sculpture.   I carefully added black to titanium white student grade paint until I got the medium gray shown above.  I thinned with enough water to aid in leveling while drybrushing to limit creating brush stroke texture.  I did not completely cover the primer 100% but I did prvoide enough base coat to tone the final silver coat as will as lay down a foundation to aid in adhesion.

The oil based primer that I applied is designed to accept both water based and oil based paints.  Even so, there are times when the first coats of  a sprayed coating of water based paint may be mildly repelled by the alkyd resin in the primer.  This can be seen in the higher peaks and protusions losing coverage to the pits and low level points on the surface.  For this reason, it is best to start with very light coats of sprayed finish.  My theory is that these paints are extensively thinned to pass through the spray equipment and the wetting agents may be compromised.  By dry brushing a base coat with a coarse brush, an acrylic matrix is formed when dry ready to accept the next coating.  As long as you do not add any mediums, the student grade paints dry to a nice satin finish.  This type of finish is what you need for subsequent coats of sprayed paints.


Createx Pearl Silver Applied

Here is the support base with a top coat of Createx Pearl Silver airbrsuh paint.  The gray under coat medrated the silver and toned it to a medium silver.  It is a nice color that goes with the theme of the entire composition without stealing the focus.

Airbrushing Mica Powders in Acrylic Medium


Spraying Pearl Ex Powder

To spray mica powders in an acrylic medium, you start out just like the way I discussed in a previous post published last August “Making Your Own Paint From Mica Pigment”.  You start with a dry mica pigment powder in a container.  You then carefully add just enough water to wet the fine particles and create a “slurry“.  Once it looks homogenous, you add copious amounts of acrylic medium. The “slurry step” is used when mixing mica powders with other mediums as well.  In the case for oils and alkyds, you would wet the pigment with mineral spirits,naphtha, or enamel reducer.  For lacquers you would use lacquer thinner.  More on this later.


The two photos show the dry pigment on the left and the slurry on the right.  You stir but not so fast to generate too many bubbles.  If the powder is not cooperating with the water you may have to add a few drops of alcohol.  Some artist paint manufacturers have a product that is specifically designed for wetting pigments.  It is a blend of surfactants. 


Add the Acrylic Medium

Once you have made sure all your pigment is fully wetted and suspended, then you can add your acrylic medium.  You want to add quite a bit.  The Pearl Ex pigment featured in this post is typically used in 10 to 12 percent ratio to the medium.  This allows for the pigment particles to spread out in the drying medium and reflect the most light possible creating the shimmering affect. 

After adding the medium and blending it all together, the mixture may lose its shine.  This is normal due to the opaque nature of the uncured acrylic resin in the medium.  It will dry clear after time to allow for the shimmer effect. 

It also bears mentioning that if you thin the acrylic mixture with water it needs to be maintained at a decent viscosity or the pigment might separate.  If you are airbrushing when this happens, it could lead to painting disaster.   Look at the photo below showing  mica pigment that is a medium that has been watered down too much.


The Alchemy of Making Airbrush Paint

With my Badger 250 airbrush, I typically use a large tip and a pressure of at least 40 psi.  The mix that usually works for me is one that is noticably viscous but does not leave a “trace” on the surface while pouring it into itself.  I would describe the consistency at heavy cream.  You will have to experiment for yourself.  Get plenty of  scrap material to practice on. 


Importance of a Basecoat

If you apply a basecoat to tone the mica coating, a light dusting is all that is necesssary.  Look at the pearlescent magenta finish above.  It is a beautiful thing nearly impossible to properly photograph.



Affordable Acrylic Paints for Backgrounds and Large Projects

Affordable Acrylic Paints
I will admit for the last couple years, I have got some good mileage with my selection of craft paints.  I used them to decorate my metal art and they hold up well when varnished or clear coated.  I have also been gradually stocking up on artist grade paint so I may do more experimental work.  There are two dynamics that are directing my change in priorities though. 
First, my daughter is growing up and she has seen daddy doing creative things as long as she can remember.  Also, she is doing more things in shool dealing with arts and crafts.  I realized that I need a paint I can buy in sufficient volume so I can share with her.  The little 2 ounce bottles of craft paint just do not last with both of us using them. 
Secondly,  I have been trying to get away from solvent and oil based finishes as much as possible.  Not only for the obvious health reasons, but for simplicity of application.  It really gets infuriating when you spent time applying primer and a topcoat only to have your clear coat craze the topcoat!  After painting more than 100 metal sculptures, I have NEVER had this problem applying the solvent clear coat over dried water based acrylics!
I discovered Blickrylic student paints at Dick Blick art supplies.  They are better quality than craft paints but much cheaper than aritst quality.  This suites them well for applying solid colored base coats over large areas.  They come in 30 colors and sizes from a pint to half gallon.  The pint bottle only cost $4.37!  Ounce for ounce that is half the cost of craft paints!  I will say they thin well with fluid medium and water if you want to airbrush them.  If you are looking for a high gloss finish you will have to use Blickrylic gloss medium.  The pigment may settle so always be sure to  shake the bottle before use!

Createx Airbrush Paints

Createx airbrush paint

Createx airbrush paint is a quality air brush paint that can be used on meny surfaces. They come in a variety of vivid colors and finishes and most of them are ready to spray from the bottle through an airbrush. They are viscous so you will have to airbrush with a larger tip and thin them if needed.

Pearlized Colors

Pearl MagentaOne of the most dazzling line of Createx paint is Pearlized paint. These paints are semitransparent and add a pearlized look to a finish. This is especially usefull is custom paint jobs and decorative work. I have found with my own experience that a basecoat of pearl silver really makes these colors stand out.

Pearlescent metal floral panel

Pearlescent Metal Floral PanelThis is an example of how I incorporate Createx paints into my metal art. This panel was primed with Krylon white primer. The frame is painted with two coats of Createx pearl blue. It came out stunning. The photo does no justice. You can get some different views herein my Etsy listing for this item. The Createx lays down a really smooth coat when properly applied.

The photo below shows a closeup of the butterfly. Due to the detail, the butterfly had to be hand painted with a brush.

Createx pearls in action

type=textUnder the translucent colored lacquers seen here on this recent art work I completed, you can see the metallic iridescence of the Createx pearls. I applied layers of paint to give a sense of depth and brilliance.

Iridescent colors

Iridescent VioletIridescent colors are simular to the pearlized but with and added hue shift when moved in the light. It gives the impression of depth of most colors. I have found though that if you apply a clear coat on top of this paint it appears to lose its iridescence. Also, a reflective basecoat would come in handy as well.

Opaque Colors

Opaque RedThese are the flat ordinary colors. They do not have fluorescence, metallic shine, or pearlescent qualities. They are usually base colors for the other color types. They have excellent hiding capabilities and with a gloss coating they are good finishes on there own.

Ultramarine Blue Artist Pigment


Description of the artist pigment ultramarine blue

Ultramarine blue is a rich blue powder that is used as a pigment in making fine art paints in oil, acrylic, watercolor etc as well as in industry for canceling the yellow tint of paper products to help keep them white. It is normally stable to moisture, sunlight and air oxidation but it is instantly destroyed by strong acids with the evolution of toxic hydrogen sulfide. The material is a sodium aluminosilicate with sulfur included. The sulfur exist as a trisulfide which contributed the blue color.

History of Ultramarine Artist Pigments


Historically, ultramarine was mined in Asia as a natural mineral. Its earliest recorded use was in ancient caves in Afghanistan and China and other areas close to where it was mined. Up through the middle ages and the Renaissance, this pigment was very expensive and difficult to obtain. During the early 19th century however a substance like ultramarine was discovered in a kiln and the mass production of synthetic ultramarine began. And by adjusting the proportion of ingredients or the process, other ultramarine pigments where able to be made such as ultramarine violet and pink.


How Can Ultramarine Blue Pigment Be Used By Artist


Ultramarine can be used in most mediums as long as it is not allowed to get in contact with even diluted acids. It can be used to pigment, oil paints, water color, milk and casein paint, watercolors, acrylics, plaster, cement and even soap. It is lightfast and very brilliant and intense.

Ultramarine blue can also be blended with titanium white to imitate the more expensive and toxic cobalt blue pigment. This is important if you want to airbrush cobalt blue.


Metal Wall Art Painted Ultramarine Blue

Ultramarine Blue Wall ArtThis abstract metal wall hanging is a work I recently completed from 1/4 inch steel rod. I wanted to see how ultramarine would look in 3D. I was pleasantly surprised. Turns out to be the richest and boldest blue I have seen. It seems to almost have a purple tint to it.


Ultramarine Blue for Skies

Meditational Sky Zen Art PrintA very common use of ultramarine blue for artists is painting skies in scenic paintings. The art print shown here called Meditational Sky Zen Art Print displays the beauty of painting skies with ultramarine blue. By changing the shade with titanium white, you can fine tune the blue to whatever appeals to you.