DecoArt Media Misters

Pushing through my project deadline schedule leaves me very little time to create.

But occasionally I manage to sneak away … and play a little,

you know … just to clear my head for a minute.

 For a quick background I like to choose DecoArt Media Misters. You can create some really interesting effects with very little effort. Just gently shake and mist over the surface …. There’s no mixing and no brushes to contend with and … No basecoat required. 

DecoArt Media Misters are great for mixed media projects.

 They work well on porous surfaces such as paper or cards.


Spray a combination of several colours over each other… then watch them disperse, creating different colours and unusual effects.

DecoArt Media Misters look great over textured surfaces and they’re easy to use with stencils too.

Special instructions for using DecoArt Media Misters
  1. Gently shake the misters before use.
  2. Press the nozzle down a little for large droplets.
  3. Press the nozzle all the way down for a fine mist.
  4. When you have finished using the misters, clean the nozzle out to prevent it from clogging. Fill an empty bottle with water and replace the cap with the nozzle, keep spraying the clean water through the nozzle until the water comes out clear.

For more information on this product, visit-


This post is part of the series “Experimenting with creative materials”


Happy painting,




Painting Technique -Faux Woodgrain

There is nothing quite like the look, the charm and the character of natural timber. And I do believe with all my heart that the natural beauty of woodgrain cannot be replicated. The depth which woodgrain can achieve when used as a surface can enhance any artwork. And the results can be rather exquisite.

But, as a Decorative Artist there are instances when I need to imitate woodgrain onto a non timber surface. And that surface is usually MDF.

MDF is one of the most popular surfaces for decorative painting as there is no grain to contend with when cutting or sawing. It’s smooth and dense, has no knots, is easily machined and can be cut into various shapes and sizes.  MDF is easily routed, allowing intricate decorative designed edging; an important attribute to Decorative Art. Its smooth and compact trait also provides the perfect surface for fine detailed painting.


Faux Woodgrain – with Warm White and Raw Sienna


Faux Woodgrain- with  Buttermilk, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Bittersweet Chocolate

Here I’m sharing my technique for faux woodgrain

What you will need

Surface of your choice

Base coating brush

DecoArt Americana Drying Time Extender

Two or three colours of Acrylic paint that work well together

Such as-

DecoArt Americana Acrylics;

  • Warm White with Raw Sienna.
  • Raw Sienna and Bittersweet Chocolate
  • Buttermilk, Burnt Sienna and Bittersweet Chocolate

Use the brush to basecoat the surface using the dominant colour.

Paint a thin coat of Extender over the background.

Place separate puddles of your colours on your palette. (Do not mix them together)

Load the brush with the dominant colour then pick up a little of the secondary colour on one corner of the brush.(If you want to add a third colour- you can pick up a little of this as well on the opposite corner).

Choose the direction you want the grain lines; horizontal or vertical.

Apply long brush strokes in your chosen direction and keep them as straight as possible allowing a streaky woodgrain finish to form.

Do not over blend the colours.

Rinse the brush and re load it in the same manner after every few strokes. This prevents the colours from over blending into each other.

Avoid over brushing the same area so you don’t lose the effect.

Allow to dry thoroughly.


This post is part of the series “Experimenting with creative materials”


Happy painting,


Deadline Dilemmas

Publishing deadlines are looming over my head as magazine production turns its focus on preparations for their Christmas issues.

My Christmas designs are now due. I’m busily putting my schedule in order by prioritising each project by its cut off date.

And one by one each project will go through the same process;

After finalising the design; a pattern is created, step by step instructions are typed; patterns and outlines are drawn, then measured and checked. Next, the entire work is reviewed. Finally, the completed project is safely packed and posted; making its way to the editor’s desk- hopefully before the clock stops.

Understandably all deadline situations are different and we all need to find what strategies work best for our circumstances.

 Here are some tips that work for me when facing a deadline


  1. Make a List

Keep a list of each project along with its due date. I write mine on a whiteboard near my workstation and refer to it daily.


  1. Prioritise

Be sure to prioritise each project in order of its due date. Work on one project at a time. I find I work faster by staying focused on the same subject. Once it’s finished and turned in I can clear my head and start fresh on the next one.


  1. Break up the project into smaller tasks

A big chunk of work can seem intimidating. I prefer to divide this into smaller sections of separate tasks.                    So … I make another list – this time I break up the project into smaller chunks.  Completing a smaller piece of a large project and checking it off shows me that I have made progress.


  1. Take regular breaks

A fresh eye always helps me eliminate mistakes that can cost me more time later.


  1. Allow time to Reassess

Leave reasonable time to re evaluate the entire project, just to be sure it flows well and meets expectations.


Happy planning,


Choosing wood wash as a background for your painting

As a decorative artist I rarely paint over a wooden surface with a solid colour. Allowing the woodgrain to remain visible can add so much character, interest and natural charm to a painting.

And the good news is… there is no basecoating required!

A wash of colour over natural timber takes very little effort. It can be as easy as a light sand, a coat of sealer and one thin, even coat of acrylic paint. If you like you can apply a coat of glazing medium; this will protect the background from mistakes and accidental splashes while painting the design.

Here I have used a cheap (& nasty) store bought chopping/serving board.

Now, for the price I paid, well I just couldn’t believe it would last too long as a functional board. But I loved the shape… so… I purposely purchased it to paint it so I can display it as a decorative item in my kitchen.

 Because this product came “ready for use”, a protective finish was previously applied. So in this case you do need to do a little bit of prep work before you start … and that’s just a bit of extra sanding to remove the previous finish.


Let’s begin wood wash…


Fine sand paper

Dust mask

Lint free cloth

Basecoating brush

DecoArt Americana Multi-Purpose Sealer

DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint– Raw Sienna, Bittersweet Chocolate

DecoArt Americana Glazing Medium

  1. Sand the surface till it’s smooth with fine grit sand paper. Always sand in the same direction of the wood grain. Never sand against the grain.  Sanding against the grain may create scratches and mark the surface which the paint may not cover no matter how many coats you apply. Always wear a good dust mask when sanding to prevent inhalation of dust particles.
  2. Wipe the surface with a dry cloth to remove the sanding dust.
  3. Prime the wood with the clear sealer.
  4. Lightly sand the surface after priming to remove any roughness in the wood.
  5. Mix Raw Sienna with a little Bittersweet Chocolate. Then add a little water to this to thin it out a little. Next, apply one thin coat evenly with the basecoating brush in the same direction of the grain. Allow it to dry.
  6. Apply a coat of glazing medium, this will protect the background from mistakes and accidental splashes while painting the design. Glazing medium helps to prevent the paint from soaking into the wood, yet the surface remains paintable.


Now you’re ready to begin your artwork.

I kept mine simple by using a stencil for the letters and then added a quick and easy cutlery set design.



This post is part of the series “Experimenting with creative materials”


Happy painting,



Experimenting with creative materials – Applying Texture Medium

What is Texture medium?

Acrylic Texture Medium is used to build up surface texture or add exaggerated dimension to a painting.  It has a thick, “Polyfilla” like consistency which will hold its shape when applied to almost any surface that you can use acrylic paints on. It won’t flop or droop. You can create anything with it – from high peaks to dug out valleys; it will remain put until dry. Texture medium can be applied with almost anything, as different tools create different effects.

Texture medium is such a versatile product but for the purpose of this series I will be focusing on its appliance as the background of a painting. When using texture medium as a background you really don’t need to basecoat the surface prior to its application. But you do need to prime your surface with gesso. Once the gesso is dry, you can begin adding texture medium. There are basically two ways to do this:

  • straight out of the jar and onto your surface, or
  • scooped from the jar and onto your palette – so it can be thinned with water or other mediums, or mixed with acrylic paints; these will need to be mixed well before applied to a surface.

    Please note; A white based texture medium when mixed with paint will reduce the paint’s colour intensity

    Depending on the thickness applied will depend on how long it takes texture medium to dry once applied. The thicker the application the longer it will take. You just need to experiment. Personally I prefer to let it dry overnight. Texture medium is also sandable when it’s dry, so any minor flaws can be smoothed back.

    How to Apply Acrylic Texture Medium

    Note:  There are many different brands of texture medium out there so always – read the instructions on the label before you begin

    As a background to a painting this would have to be my favourite texture medium technique


Basecoating brush

Palette knife

White Gesso

DecoArt Dimensional Effects Paintable Texture Paste

DecoArt Americana Acrylics: choice of colour/s


Apply two coats of Gesso, lightly sanding between each coat. Mix Dimensional Effects with enough water until a soft icing consistency is achieved. Spread over the surface with the palette knife – like icing a cake- to create a textured effect. Let it dry thoroughly then give it a light sand if required.

Basecoat with your choice of acrylic paint colour.



Texture medium mixed with water then spread over the surface with the palette knife


Built up dimension on rocks in the foreground with additional texture medium

Other ways of applying texture medium;
  • Apply it with a stiff bristle brush
  • Push texture medium through a stencil and the design pattern will stay put when dry.
  • Apply texture medium using a foam roller
  • Spread it onto a surface with a hand torn piece of thick cardboard.
  • After spreading it over the surface, you may scrape some of it off here and there before it dries.
  • Spread it out then scratch patterns into the paste.
  • Use a sponge, dip it into the texture medium, no need to blend just turn and twist it to avoid a repetitive pattern and away you go
  • After spreading with a palette knife use the back of a spoon to create small craters,
  • Use your fingers
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools…..
Once texture medium is dry you can;
  • add more texture medium over it to build it up
  • shape it by sanding it
  • carefully carve into it
  • paint over it

…And once you’ve finished your masterpiece you will need to varnish it.


Happy painting,


Experimenting with creative materials- Sponging technique

The sponging technique would have to be one of the quickest background techniques you can master.  It can be applied onto any type of surface. It may even assist in concealing uneven and slightly damaged surfaces.

When I started my painting journey it was nearly always recommended to use a sea sponge when sponging. It’s natural and uneven imprint allows a more natural effect while avoiding a visible distinct pattern in your art work. After much trial and error over many years of experience in the art industry, I have found that sea sponges disintegrate rather quickly, leaving little pieces of themselves behind in my work which are impossible to remove. They are also relatively costly compared to the humble synthetic ones. So, personally, I prefer the synthetic type.

I have trained my wrist to flip, turn and twist while holding a synthetic sponge in its hand in a synchronised “uncoordinated” way – to avoid a repetitive pattern. Adding pressure when required, using a lighter hand in other instances. Loading at the right time to achieve the effect I’m after.

Materials required for the sponging background technique

Surface of your choice

Base coating brush

Synthetic sponge

Two colours of Acrylic paint that work well together- Hint: White works well with any colour


With the brush basecoat the surface using the dominant colour.  Wet the sponge, remove excess water then dip into your chosen paints keeping the colours separate on the same sponge and blend onto the surface simultaneously. Move the sponge around by turning and twisting it to avoid a repetitive pattern. Dry thoroughly.


 Tips on sponging with acrylics

  • Try: adding three or more colours
  • Don’t over blend, make sure you can still see each distinct colour you have used on the surface (as well as the new mixes you have created)
  • Let it dry, then sponge over with thick uneven blotches of metallic paint here and there
  • Remember to cover the entire surface, even the edges.

Some examples of my completed work using the sponging technique as the background.

Please note; the background is there to complement rather than compete with the main artwork.


I wanted to recreate the feel of an old and worn out nautical porthole. This MDF framed mirror has lots and lots of sponged layers of acrylics (including metallic paints)

Metallic border

a variety of metallic paints sponged over black acrylic

Ribbon holder

Two colours of acrylics sponged over each MDF board

Sponging technique used to conceal a damaged frame 

using small fragments of DecoArt Metallic Lustre over the black background helped to conceal the uneven surface

Dragon fly Notebook

 sponging technique applied on fabric


Happy Painting,


On a Sunny Afternoon…


I decided to relax and make the most of our last few sunny autumn days. It won’t be long now before winter takes charge and these opportunities will become improbable.

Revamping an old wobbly rustic consol table was my choice of outdoor relaxation. And changing my creative environment allows me some play time; just to see what happens. Nothing too serious…

…no due date, no master plan, no goal in mind.

Just a creative experiment.

After removing the draws.

And the hardware,

Then, I gave it a good clean. “No sanding required”, was the advise written on the paint tin.

Yep, I’ll go with that.

I was a little concerned about the previous dark coloured stain bleeding through, so I decided to apply a couple of coats of stain blocker.

Next, I applied two coats of Americana Décor Chalky Finish; Whisper

AJ. The quality control watchdog was on patrol…

I added a few more finishing touches with stencils


And now I’m waiting…

What’s the verdict?  … Hmm


Happy revamping,