1. Starting with an already prepped piece, I take a tack cloth and lightly run it over the wood to get all dust and dirt off the surface. Using blue painters tape I masked off the edge of the wood. Using a piece of equipment called a plotter. I pre-cut out the Victorian filigree for the top and the quote from Blake Shelton “You’ll be my glass of wine, I’ll be your shot of whiskey.” I put this black and white image the plotter uses together in Photoshop. I want my lettering and filigree to be the color of the natural wood so I transfer them right to the prepped surface.  Our eyes are drawn to letter imperfections. Its important when doing lettering on any surface whether skin, wood or canvas to get it perfect. The slightest imperfection bothers the mind and draws our eyes to it. In this day and age it is important to use whatever tools necessary to achieve this.


2. When painting up to the edge of tape or vinyls I will face a couple challenges, especially when working on wood. The slightest bit of dirt or dust on the surface will allow the vinyls to lift causing a breach. It is important to keep checking for air bubbles or lifting while I paint. Too much paint up against the edge will bleed into the wood grain and underneath the tape or vinyl. This also makes the paint thickness significantly different than the other layer. This is called a “bridge.” This bridge even when cleared will show from different angles and this paint thickness has a form of measurement referred to as “mil thickness.” It catches the eye just as your eye is drawn to imperfections in lettering. The paint thickness also increases the odds of it peeling off the surface when removing the vinyls or applying a finishing coat later on. So the goal is to get solid coverage, quickly and as thinly as possible. I have to be cautious of how many coats of paint I apply to the surface.


3. I always use a hairdryer over a heat gun because heat guns get much hotter and can bake the surface, meaning the paint literally burns and melts or it dries so fast that the paint will crack. I do not recommend doing this step without one or the other. The paint needs to dry very fast or it will bleed in the wood grain and underneath the letters and tape. If I use a heat gun I have to keep it moving and be cautious of how long it sits on the surface in one spot. If paint sits longer than a few seconds it already soaked underneath the vinyl. I mix enough paint to paint the entire background. I work from my negative space up to the edge of the vinyls and tape lightly in small sections at a time. Paint brush in one hand and hair dryer/heat gun in the other constantly moving and drying at the same time. I don’t force the paint up to the edge. I take my time and make sure all my paint is dry on the edges before moving on to the next area. I work in small areas at a time, not trying to do the whole background at once.4

Unless I am painting the frame of a piece I almost never use white or black for anything. I always leave room for a shadow or a highlight. By doing this I will add tan colors or blue colors to blacks, and I will use creams or ivories in place for white. Saturating something in black and white is easy to do and by limiting my use I can create the illusion of greater contrast.

4. I like texture, so I will leave my paint colors a little swirled to add shade variations of my color choices as I paint. I do not hammer the paint into the cracks or up to the edges. Anything more than 2-3 coats done lightly followed with a hair dryer will create too much of a bridge.


5. With everything masked off still and a nice charcoal colored background I decided to add a drop shadow using an airbrush. Spraying half on the masking and the other half on the underside of the lettering and filigree with black. If you don’t have an airbrush you can get this look by watering down some black and dry brushing it half on the masking. I’m always cautious for lifting and bleeding and follow with a heat source. Great brushes for this technique would be makeup eye shadow brushes.


6. My favorite part. Time to peel everything off. When peeling tape I keep it at a 45 degree angle from the surface as I pull. This will “cut” the paint to prevent any peeling, and I always use tweezers. Unless I am painting with my fingers, they dont touch the surface I am working on. Fingers will scratch airbrushed paint very easily, and also run the risk of leaving my fingerprints on the surface. The oil in fingerprints will show in paint or any product that goes through the process of atomization.


7. Final step is to apply a coat of clear. Leaving raw wood or metal exposed will allow the air to destroy it. They have to be protected. I love this stuff. It does not stink. It washes out of the brush with just water and it dries hard and fast on the surface. Applying a clear coat preserves the paint and the wood.IMG_20160118_093033647

This one is Satin finish that has a slight shine to it from an angle, which is a step up from matte (no shine at all). When you look directly at it there appears to be no shine at all which is how it is different from a semi-gloss. The clear coat makes everything waterproof and weather resistant! There are several finishes to choose from. I almost always use satin finish for anything that hangs on the wall.