Question submitted by Robyn:
I have a bunch of Smiley statues and have no idea how to start painting them. I know it should be easy, just paint them! but there must be a order skin first then clothes ? What color do I base coat, how do I get shadows, antiquing etc.?
Hi Robyn, Regarding the Smileys:
Basecoat: When I decide on base coats for a piece, it will depend on the technique I am going to use. For instance if i am using a translucent product, i will basecoat with something light and antique to get shading and depth and seal over the flat surface of the acrylic to get a smooth surface. If I am Wet Brusing or Dry Brushing I will basecoat with a darker color than my intended finish to keep the crevices dark.
Order: I usually paint with these order ideas in mind.
1. lightest to darkest, so that I can be sloppy with the first light color - knowing that the next darker color with cover it up. Then I only have to be care with the darker color when I am butting it up against a border area that is already painted.
2. If I am going to antique one area, but not others, I will base coat and antique that area and let it dry a little before I base coat other areas to be sure they stay clean.
3. Shading and detail is always last - I will come back and use various methods like washes, corner loading, PaintStiks, Chalks etc to add shading in crevices and other areas as needed. Then I will use my liner and do all fine detail like stitching, buttons, writing any text on, outlining any areas that look a little messy and finally the eyes.
Skin: Depending on how dark you want the skin, a good medium color for skin is Doc Holliday's soft brown but there are plenty of other choices, some a little pinker, some a little darker or lighter, depending on what look you are trying to get. I like to antique the the skin, Once the acrylic is dry you paint the antique over it and wipe it off. It creates a smooth soft appearance. You can use odorless mineral spirits on a paper towel to wipe the antique off further until you get the skin as smooth and clean as you want. Leaving on the traces of antuque in the crevices, but even though you wiped most of it off. Soft Brown acrylic base coat with Doc Holliday's Soft Brown Antique over it is a nice choice. There are lots of good combinations. You can add shading to the skin over the antique to get your mouth color, cheeks, etc. Chalks (or Paintstiks) work great for this and a rose color acrylic mixed with your skin base coat color always works nice for the mouth line.
Most Smileys are smooth (rather than having a lot of detail like an animal fur) so for me, I most likely would choose to paint each area (clothing, skin, hair etc) the color I want in the finished product and I would shade the edges of each section with a darker shade of that color with Corner loading to give depth and maybe wet brush any raised area (like the hair) to add further interest or highlights. I would antique the skin, and possibly the hair depending on texture and color I choose and maybe wet brush the hair if it had a lot of raised detail. Each piece is different, so I can't really give you a one size fits all method. But definitely, I would finish with a large bright expressive eye with lots of detail - that's the best part about painting smilies! If you want any specific help, one on one sessions are available and easy. I can give you individual suggestions for color, technique, method and order, etc. for any piece you want a little extra help with. Or just need help learning how to use a specific product.
Hope that helps! Happy Painting!
_ If you are Wet Brushing or Dry Brushing and your desired goal is a soft White or lighter shade, consider using a lighter base coat. Look in the photo gallery, animal section at the Doc Holliday Lynx, this was base coated in black because I wanted a rich look with texture and depth. However, I wanted a softer effect for the animals, so the rest of the pierce was base coated in White and antiqued with Black Translucent. This still gives depth in the crevices and not far to go to achieve soft white shade when wet brushed. Be sure to let the antiquing dry completely so you don't muddy your white brush. You don't have to base coat a piece all one color, this combination gives interest and contrast.
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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!