Antiques can be a dramatic or subtle effect based on how you use them. In the 70-80's it was very popular to paint your entire piece and then antique it to help disguise wobbly lines and messy borders created by shaky hands and to change the tint of things to help them not look so pasty of singular dimension. Very popular for animals, skin effects and Indian pieces with leather, wood or fur.
Sometimes this left the painter discourage because after all their hard work, it not only disguised what they didn't like, but also changed the look of other colors they wanted to keep and left the piece looking dark or dull.
Instead of applying the antique at the end, try antiquing just after your basecoat stage. This can add definition, give character or even give a "worn" look if that is desired. Consider also only antiquing certain areas or portions of the piece. As discussed in the tip on Base Coats, where I used Doc Holliay's Lynx as an example, you can use a light basecoat and antique with a darker color to give depth rather than using a dark opaque color when you what the finish to actually be a light shade. Dry brushing and wet brushing still work well over antiquing, as long as you allow it to have adequate time to dry. (Sometimes the wiping back can leave a shine on smooth areas, but once you begin brushing over it the shine disappears and it covers just fine.)
I always wipe back my antique with a soft dry cloth. Certain paper towels like Viva work great because they are soft and durable and they are disposable...your family appreciates the fact that you're not stealing their favorite old T's or socks!
*Be sure to not to paint too large of an area with the antique that you can not wipe back before it dries. This leaves streaks and ridges. To get even antiquing, only paint a moderate sized area and wipe back quickly with soft dry cloth. Continuing working in that manner until the whole desired area is done. Keep finding clean areas of your cloth, or replace with a new cloth or towel so you don't just keep smearing the antique back on. You shouldn't take a break in the middle and leave an area to finish later, this leaves hard transition marks when you stopped and started and they can be difficult to get even.
* Once the area is wiped back with a clean dry cloth, get a new clean soft dry cloth and add a little mineral spirits to the cloth and really scrunch the cloth to distribute the damp chemical through the towel so there aren't any really saturated areas. Then lightly buff this on the piece, working against the grain, to remove excess antiquing and wipe back with still another clean DRY cloth. This will help keep smooth areas smooth and brighten the tops of detail. Don't leave large ares of antiquing in corners or crevices, only allow enough to remain to enhance, not muddle. Any areas that you want even brighter, cleaner or smoother, you can then use a small area of your cloth with more saturation of mineral spirits and buff that area more. Be care not to buff too vigorously or too long, as you can open a hole in your base coat layer and then apply the antique directly to the bisque which again, is hard to cover and make even.
See the Paint along album on my Facebook to see Step #2 of Sarah Snow. This is antiquing over my basecoat and wiped back with mineral spirits to keep smooth. This toned my bright white down and left a "country" look to the body and put depth and character in the crevices. It also changed the color of the lavender to a country look, and left it exactly as I wanted for the next steps. Feel free to ask questions if you want more clarification!
Happy Painting in 2012!
Ceramic Artist & Teacher
_I will share various tips for painting on this page, I hope you enjoy them! Please feel free to ask questions or comment, it's always nice to hear from other painters and I am happy to help any way I can! I will be adding various technique packages to the online store and when I do I will post an update here to let you know a technique has been added. Check back soon tips !
God Bless & Happy Painting!