What is decorative painting? I get that question a lot. You may be more familiar with the term tole painting. Traditionally, tole painting is applied to the art of painting on tin but, when I started taking classes, it was used in a broader sense to mean the decoration of objects using various painting strokes and techniques using acrylic paints. These days the term decorative painting is more commonly used though some people still use the two terms interchangeably. Wood is the most common surface to paint on, but tin, fabric and other surfaces are also available.
I started my decorative painting journey in the early 90s when a group of us at work gathered in a conference room at lunchtime and worked on all kinds of projects. The experienced painter in the group taught us newbies the basics. We learned how to read a pattern, prep various types of surfaces from wood to tin to fabric, transfer the design using a stylus and graphite paper, basecoat and paint the project and, finally, varnish the finished piece. Over several years, we painted ornaments, cookie jar lids, sweatshirts, and a host of other projects.
Now I largely paint by myself, but every year I attend the Creative Painting convention in Las Vegas. I recently returned from what is around my 15th year at the convention (I lost track after about ten) where I took some classes and prowled the trade show floor looking for new patterns and supplies to buy.
I thought I’d share some pictures of a typical class so you could get an idea what one is like. Classes are held in hotel ballrooms. The size of the room depends on the number of students. Some special events have as many as 100. The fabric painting class I’ll be showing you was on the smaller end with about 20. Here’s our classroom.
Here’s my little area of the room. Brushes, water basin, palette paper and other supplies waiting for class to begin.
Each of the students was given a pattern packet designed by the instructor, Mary Ribet. Inside was a photo of the finished project (always good to see what you’re shooting for, right?), a line drawing of the pattern, and written instructions for each step.
We had the choice of painting on a t-shirt or tote bag. I chose the t-shirt. We used So Soft paints by DecoArt, which are specifically designed for painting on fabric. Here’s the piece with the pattern on the fabric and the bird partly done.
The instructor went through each step, giving advice as we went along. The final step involved using a stencil to make leaves. Here’s my finished piece.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief tour of a class. Decorative painting is great fun. There are so many interesting pattern books and packets out there to paint and conventions to attend.
When I decided to write mysteries, I chose to write a cozy set in the world of decorative painting. First, because I love reading cozies, but also because no one had chosen to write a series involving the craft I love. There are ones that feature crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, etc., but none in the decorative painting field. Two books in the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series have been published so far by Henery Press—Fatal Brushstroke and Paint the Town Dead. The latter is set at a fictional painting convention similar to the one I recently attended. Right now, I’m busy working on the third book in the series.
Visit me at my website, www.authorsybiljohnson.com www.authorsybiljohnson.com, to learn more about me and my books. I also have a number of links to decorative painting related sites including conventions, tutorials on getting started, and places to buy supplies.