Oh, Vincent Van Gogh, How I Adore You!!

Oh, Vincent Van Gogh, How I Adore You!!

Every now and again, I do commission work.  It’s not something that I do often because, well because, essentially I don’t like being told what to do. Most of the people I have worked with know this (thank you, you lovely people). And while we talk about design/functionality/color/finish etc, once we have a rough idea of what the piece should/could/maybe look like, my clients generally give me the go ahead to ‘Just do you’. 

It’s freeing. It’s wonderful. It’s nerve-wrecking. It’s anxiety-provoking.

But it’s equally just stinking awesome!!

Besides, how can I write a contract with the words ‘distressed’ finish as the goal? What does ‘distressed’ even mean?? The clients that I’ve been fortunate to work with have seen my finishes. They know that I have a ‘look’ (as in how I distress/create patina) but each ‘look’ is always unique – whether I want it to or not. Does that make sense? I find it hard difficult impossible to copy or duplicate my own finishes. And they – my clients (thank you, again), appreciate that and realize that pretty much all of my finishes come to fruition organically.

Penny has been a follower on my Business Facebook page for a long time. She’s just a lovely lovely person, who reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to paint a piece of furniture for her. Penny had a designated place in her home for the piece, but hadn’t been able to procure said piece yet. For a few weeks, I would get messages on Facebook with pieces of furniture that were for sale, with Penny asking if it would work for an image transfer.  Finally, she found a lovely oak buffet (probably from the 30/40’s) and bought it. 

The next step was to try and find an image that she loved. If you’re going to have a commissioned piece done, you absolutely need to LOVE the image.  It’s not a cheap process. It’s an investment, and with any investment you have to be 110% certain that it works for you. And when it comes to art, I mean, you know the kind: the one that makes you STOP in your tracks and makes your heart go a little faster. That’s the one that you WANT. NEED. DESIRE. This stage took a little time because although Penny had compiled many many images on a Pinterest Board, not all of them would work with the piece of furniture. Either the scale was wrong, the image wouldn’t necessarily translate well with an image transfer, or the orientation of the image was wrong (obviously putting a vertical image on a horizontal space doesn’t really work; when you enlarge the image to fit the space you’d ultimately end up losing a lot of the thing that you love: the image!!

Finally, Penny decided that she loved Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Asylum Garden at Arles’ (1889).

How could you not love it! It’s a beautiful painting. A beautiful painting done at a time when he, probably, was in the most pain. He spent a full year (May 1889-May 1890) hospitalized in Arles, and he completed an astounding 142 paintings! Rather than being sterile and disconnected, his paintings during that time were considered to be his most exquisite pieces of work. It’s so strange, every time I think of this time – of him – I instinctively want to touch my heart. That poor troubled genius.  And it’s so sad to think that a year after he was ‘cured’, he died from a reported ‘self-inflicted’ gunshot wound. 

But let’s stay with the beauty here: the colors: deep rich, warm yellows, calming greens and blues. From the painting, Penny and I moved on to choosing the paint colors I would use. I like to think of the piece of furniture as a ‘frame’ for the image; and because of that the colors have to make sense because they have to coexist together – hopefully in harmony! I don’t consider myself an artist, but I have a great appreciation of the true artist; the painters who create beauty on a canvas. My job is to use their creations and frame them on a piece of furniture.  I can paint a great frame, but I am under no illusion that what I do is nowhere close to what an artist can do. Most of you probably know that I’ve been using Wise Owl paints now for a couple of months (fabulous paint and a great palette), and so it made sense to pick our colors from their range. Penny loved Relic, and looking closely at the painting Tourmaline would be a perfect partner. I also knew I would use use other colors for the shading/highlighting.

Now I will be completely transparent here THIS PIECE ALMOST KICKED MY BUTT!!!!!

I needed 16 separate tiles of paper (11″ x 17″) to get the entire image to cover the front of the dresser.

If you look closely, you can see the seams (this was probably half way through the ‘touch up’ stage).  Oh, I can’t even.

I ended up losing some areas of the image (worse nightmare), and spent hours with my acrylics and tiny paintbrushes to cover up the missing areas. I didn’t go into a full-blown panic attack, per se. But I came close. It wasn’t pretty. Ever had one of those jobs when you actually stop yourself and question if you know what the heck you’re doing???

Well, Punk – Do ya?? 

After the identity crisis and the faux panic attack subsided, I turned the corner, and it came together rather beautifully…and the angels sang, and life was good again. The highlighting was done with Wise Owl Beeswax (a very lovely yellow) to play off the yellows in the painting (see what I mean about the colors have to make sense), and the shading was achieved by mixing Charleston Green (my ABSOLUTE favorite color) with the other blues/greens and Wise Owl glaze in Java.

I think I used over 10 different products on this piece, sometimes you just need to get all of your products out and let them do the work. It’s all sealed with the matte varnish because you already should know that I don’t really care for ‘shiny’.  A good matte finish is always my  ‘go to’.  And here she is, in all her glory!

One of the reasons why Penny bought the dresser/buffet/cabinet whatever was the feet.  Gorgeous carved feet (on both the top and bottom) that ‘disappeared’ against the wood grain. We both agreed that they needed to shine.

Am I the only one that believes that the spotlight needs to shine on true craftsmanship?

I’m a fool for sexy feet, what can I say?

A little patina, going a long way.

Oh, Van Gogh.  This has been the first time I’ve used your art. I can not thank you enough.

 

I wiped the inside of the dresser (is it even a dresser, is it a buffet, or a cabinet?) with the furniture salve which, seriously, I just love. I used the Lemon Verbana this time because…well, lemons are yellow and my dresser has yellow in it (seriously, how ridiculous am I???). Rhetorical question, folks. Rhetorical question.

One of the delights of this job, is looking back on the progress of the piece. Comparing the ‘Before’ and ‘After’. If I can look at the ‘After’ and think that it looks ‘original’, then I’m satisfied.

In this case, I’m satisfied.  And the praise really needs to go to Penny. She had the vision. She had the confidence that I could pull it off. But this – this piece – it’s all Penny. And I thank her.

{insert catchy ending phrase here}

 

Diane aka The Paint Factory

 

For those interested in trying out Wise Owl paints, I still have my discount code for 5% off all products (including the Cling On paintbrushes). If you want to try them, this will be the time. Every little bit helps, right? 

Click here!: use code: THEPAINTFACTORY at checkout for the discount.

Here’s the link to my Facebook Live! talking about the piece.  

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Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint: What You Need To Know.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Wise Owl One Hour Enamel Paint: What You Need To Know.

I hold the dubious distinction of being the one person who has painted her kitchen cabinets the grand total of THREE times. Who does that? Isn’t painting your cabinets once, enough?? Why the need to push the envelope? Trust me, I never set out to paint them three times. It just, kinda happened.

Initially, I sat down to write all of my experiences with the different paint brands: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, half way through I decided to delete everything and start again. I wouldn’t write about them, I would do a Facebook Live and talk about them.

It’s a lengthy Facebook Live, but I hope that you find some useful information that you can apply to your own cabinetry. I don’t think anyone is ever excited to paint kitchen cabinets. It’s not my kind of fun. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing. But – I know that I’m not alone: solid wood cabinets, hate the aged wood stain (mine are builder-grade oak), but can’t afford to tear them out and replace them. The only viable solution is to paint them. That’s the only sensible, cost-effective way that I’ve found.

I like to think that I have always used high quality products; I’ve used Annie Sloan chalk paint with wax (I personally would not use wax again in a kitchen), Pure & Original Classico with a clear top coat and now finally Wise Owl One Hour Enamel paint, so I feel that I have a good take on what to do and what not to do. For this post I’m going to focus on the One Hour Enamel. It’s new to the market, I just finished painting my bottom kitchen cabinets with it. And I’m pretty excited about it!!

Even though most chalk paints tell you that it doesn’t require priming, it DOES require prep work. In the kitchen, the prep work is probably the most important step to getting the finished look you’re after. This is where you need to spend the most amount of time.

STEP ONE: Clean you cabinets thoroughly. Although I often wipe down my cabinets with whatever cleaner I have at hand, this is not the type of cleaning I’m talking about. I mean DEEP CLEANING. I washed mine down with a mix of TSP and water. And I had to wash them TWICE. It turns out that my cabinets were pretty disgusting and we are, as a family, complete animals. Make sure that you rinse off the TSP residue. Again, this is really important because the residue can interact with the paint, which we don’t want to happen. Once the cabinets are clean, make sure they’re dry. Because the enamel dries so quickly, if there’s any moisture on the wood it will be trapped under the paint and will affect the finish.

STEP TWO: Remove all of the hardware, take the cabinets off the hinges, and take the drawers out. I will admit that last time I painted the cabinets I didn’t remove the hinges (completely sloppy on my end) and the end result was a mess. I had to go back and replace all of the hinges that I’d managed to get paint on. Save yourself that chore. Take them off to begin with.

STEP THREE: This is a step that you may be able to bypass (although I couldn’t). Because my cabinets were already painted I felt that I needed to do this (and I’m really glad I took the time). Prime and sand. Last time I used a foam roller to paint the bottom cabinets, and while it made the work go much faster it didn’t produce the super smooth finish that I was looking for. It actually started to bug me a lot recently. My mission this time was to get a completely smooth, brush-free finish. I was willing to take the extra steps to get there. So, out came the sander. Then to the primer. Now, I used the primer for two different reasons; the first one was I had one area in the kitchen that had chipped (it was a factory finished corner, and I should have primed it to begin with, but I didn’t (sloppy again) and I paid the price. On a side note, I’ve noticed that the factory finish from Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn both want to resist chalk paint. I’ve had to prime those too, on occasion). The second reason (and you may want to do this yourself, especially if you have oak cabinets), is to help fill in the deep oak grain. Will it remove it completely? Probably not, but it will certainly help. And I’ll do anything to get rid of an evidence of oak wood.

I highly recommend using Wise Owl primer in Clear. It’s water-based, and for whatever reason because it’s clear I don’t find it to be intimidating. Completely weird on my part, I know. I personally think it’s a genius concoction. I decided to use a medium dark color (Weathervane) to coordinate with my granite counters. It’s also a color that changes somewhat with the light: sometimes it looks very grey, other times it takes on a more brown grey hue. Given that I knew I wanted to prime, I didn’t have to concern myself with the ‘typically’ white primer showing through. Wise Owl do, however, make a White primer if you’re going to paint your cabinets a light color. You do have to let this cure for four hours. I applied it to the cabinets on the evening, so it had extra time overnight.

STEP FOUR: Now the fun begins. I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but I forgot. This is a good time to invest in a good quality brush. This is the area where you do not want to go cheap. Sometimes going cheap is a really expensive mistake to make. Because the enamel dries very quickly (have I said that enough?), you don’t have the luxury of being able to pick out any loose bristles that may have fallen out of your brush. I probably can’t stress this enough – use a quality brush, and one that is a comfortable size for you to handle. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better. I have a stash of Cling! On brushes, and I really like them – they have a ton of choices. I used the S50 Shorty (my absolute favorite; easy to use, nice short handle) for the majority of the painting. In the areas that were difficult to get to (namely behind my built-in stove) I used the angled P16. It’s one of those brushes that you probably won’t use often, but when you do need it – it’s priceless (and for $18.50 it’ well-worth the money). For small touch ups, I used the S30 (the S50 probably would have worked, but this is just a super fun brush to use in small areas). I also always use a damp paintbrush. Always. Just make sure it’s damp and not wet.

So many brushes, so little time.

STEP FIVE: Basically, it goes without saying that you need to stir the paint. Stir really well, and then stir some more.

This is something you DON’T do. UNDER ANY SITUATION. You don’t look outside, see the sun shining, discover it’s in the low 70’s and decide to take your cabinet doors outside to paint. DO NOT DO THAT. Again, because the paint is fast-drying any tiny bit of fluff, or debris, or ANYTHING can float through the air, land on your wet cabinets, and then all bets are off. I don’t want to talk about it. Just don’t do it. OK?

I will also tell you, if possible, to work on a flat surface. Place the doors on a table and let gravity work for you (never in a million years did this middle-aged woman anticipate saying that gravity was your friend). The paint is self-leveling, so working on a flat surface will greatly benefit you and the flawless finish, that we’re going for. There is a trick to using this paint, and I would be amiss to not tell you that there’s a small learning curve to painting cabinets. For this reason, I will recommend you start by painting the insides of the cabinets, until you get the feel of the paint. The main difference between this enamel or other paints is that, as I keep saying, it’s fast-drying. Basically what this means is that you can’t ‘cut in’ as you normally would. Trust me, I tried. As soon as you put the paint on to the wood, it starts doing what it’s supposed to do – it starts drying!! If you ‘cut in’ you will end up with paint lines that will be hard to blend. What you need to do is start at the top, brush the paint in a straight line all the way to the bottom. Take the brush off the door, put it back and pull the brush back up to the top. Then move the brush to the next space, always using a wet edge. The main trick is to not OVERWORK it. Once you get the hang of it, it really is a very easy medium to work with. My paint dried in around 30 mins. UNHEARD OF!!!

Did you notice that my Janitor sign is crooked? It’s because I’m the Janitor, and Janitors don’t always have time to fix stuff!!

STEP SIX: This is also, in my opinion, an important step. WASH THE BRUSH between coats. These cabinets took two coats of paint. Usually, I wrap my brushes in clingfilm when I’m inbetween coats; but you really can’t do that with this. The leftover paint starts drying on your brush very quickly. I did a quick wash, and my brush was back to it’s former beautiful self. The fact that the paint overall dried so quickly was a little daunting at first. I definitely had some ‘Wow’ moments. Once the first coat was dry, I lightly sanded it with a 220 sanding block (because I’m not sloppy now. I have evolved). And I was ready for the second/final coat.

The angled brush was especially useful to paint behind the built-in stove.

STEP SEVEN: Obviously this is the stage where you let the paint dry (I decided to leave it for a few hours). Admittedly, it was dry within the hour – but, in all honestly, I was nervous that I would scratch it up. Total paranoia, I know. I started painting the cabinets in the morning, by late afternoon I had hung them with the new hinges and replaced the old hardware. This was the weird part. I’m so used to painting cabinets and having my kitchen be in complete shambles for several days, that it was a little unnerving. But in a good way. I have 10 drawers, seven doors, and about a 10 foot bead board counter base (that I painted the back of (painting that was a complete breeze). I had ordered a gallon of Weathervane (a warm grey color – it’s what I would call a ‘timeless’ color) and I have about 3/4 of the gallon left. I seriously over ordered. Like seriously. I could paint my neighbors cabinets, if I were that way inclined. Which I am no, thank you very much.

STEP EIGHT: Relax. Chill. Have a glass of wine. You deserve it. The enamel will cure rock solid in 10 days, opposed to the regular 30 days that other enamels take. Clean up is easy, just soap and water. Now I’m thinking of painting my upper cabinets. And I can’t even believe I just typed that.

So worth the work!

If you want to try Wise Owl paint or Cling! On paintbrushes for yourself, click on my affiliate link here: WISE OWL PAINT use promotional code: thepaintfactory for 5% discount off all products.

{insert catchy ending phrase here}

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Diane aka The Paint Factory

The fine print stuff: There are affiliate links included in this post. This is my honest and truthful opinion on the products that I used. My opinion can not be bought. Companies are most certainly welcome to try and influence my opinion (by sending wildly expensive gifts that I may/may not use in the hope that I will write a glowing review). At the end of the day, if I don’t like your product, I’m going to have to write and say I don’t like your product.

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