Decorative art, aka. tole painting, has been around for hundreds of years, covering everything from everyday utensils, to furniture, and even simple household items. This type of painting may not always get the respect it is due in the art industry, but as utilitarian decoration, it lies at the very foundation of the painters and artists who create every day. It is a fun, easy, affordable way to paint that anyone can do! Overall, it is probably the most common and widely practiced arts of all among beginners and novice artists.
Tole painting is the folk art of decorative painting on tin and wooden utensils, objects and furniture. Typical metal objects include utensils, coffee pots, and similar household items. Wooden objects include tables, chairs, and chests, including hope chests, toy boxes and jewelry boxes. The practice began in 18th century New England, and was also extensively carried on among German immigrants in Pennsylvania. A separate, related tradition occurs in the Netherlands and among Scandinavian countries and immigrants, including Norwegians, Danes and Swedes. German tole painting may concentrate more on metal and tin objects, while Scandinavians and Netherlanders may concentrate more on wooden objects and furniture. Modern tole painting typically uses inexpensive, long-lasting and sturdy acrylic paints. Good quality wooden work is sealed, primed and sanded before the decorative paint is applied. The most beloved family objects tend to be high quality utensils or furniture, painted freehand with favorite patterns, colors or flowers, humorous themes, family in-jokes, or illustrations of favorite or family stories. An advantage of tole painting as a craft is that a bad painting can be sanded off and repainted. Tole painting is now a worldwide phenomenon, largely due to the international expansion of the now 41 year old Society of Decorative Painters.
THE PROJECT: CHRISTMAS DOVE DESIGN
I have been painting on furniture and found objects all of my life. It really is a core part of what I paint and who I am. I enjoy re-purposing flea market items and turning them into family heirlooms. The following project is a simple design painted with limited art materials. In general, acrylic paint is the foundation material used by the majority of decorative and tole painters. It is durable, dries fast, and easily adaptable to the stroke work practiced by tole painters.
STEP ONE: APPLY GESSO
The Joe’s Prime Painting Panels are ready to use when you open the package! That is what makes them the ideal surface for this project.
Apply one coat of the Joe’s Signature Acrylic Gesso to the panel and allow it to dry. You only need one coat because the gesso is really thick and creamy. Don’t worry about trying to smooth every brush stroke, as the texture will show through when you are finished.
STEP TWO: TRANSFER PATTERN TO PREPARED PANEL
I use the Saral Graphite Transfer paper by the roll. It lasts forever, and you can tear off larger sizes if you need. Place the graphite paper face down on panel and then pattern. Using a stylus or dried up ink pen (I save these for this purpose) to trace over the design. A tip for using a brand new piece of transfer paper is to rub the surface with a paper towel or tissue to remove excess graphite. This will lessen the amount transferred onto the panel. After applying pattern, remove excess graphite with a kneaded eraser by rolling it over the surface. This will prevent unnecessary smudging later!
STEP THREE: BASE COAT RED HEART BACKGROUND
Using the pyrole red, carefully base coat around the dove shape with one coat. Darken the pyrole red with a bit of Payne’s gray and shade the outer edge using the side load floating technique. Make sure the base coat is dry before you attempt to shade.
SIDE LOAD FLOATING TECHNIQUE
STEP FOUR: BASE COAT BACKGROUND
Mix Payne’s Gray into Permanent Green Light to create a dark forest green and base coat around heart shape. Let dry.
STEP FIVE: SHADING
Apply Quinacridone Gold paint using the shading technique to the outer edge of heart design and also to shade and separate the wings of the dove. Add blush to cheek using Pyrole Red and Tint White.
STEP SIX: DETAILS
There are several details in this last step. The two techniques that are used predominately is the comma stroke and uniform dots. Below are the step by step technique instructions.
STEP SEVEN: APPLY GLOSS FINISH
After you have allowed the panel to completely dry, spray an even coat of Golden Archival Spray Varnish to protect the finished project. Now, the panel can be hung for viewing pleasure.
This really is a very easy project and I know what you are going to say!
“I can’t draw a straight line.”
“I can’t paint.”
“It looks too difficult.”
Well, whether those things are true or not is totally up to you! I believe anyone can paint if you break down the steps and learn the techniques. The techniques featured here are the foundation of tole painting. You just have to try! This type of painting is great on most surfaces as long as you prepare the surface for acrylics. Imagine all of the great hand made gifts you can create for Christmas and the holidays! But you better get started now! And before you know it, you will hear me say, “I Tole You Everyone Can Paint!”
So, Happy “I Tole You So” Day!
And Keep Calm and Tole On!