Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve received a lot of emails asking me to elaborate on how I “dry brush”. The dry brushing paint technique came up because I mentioned that I finished off this hutch that I shared a couple weeks ago by dry brushing on swipes of dark brown:
I didn’t really go into details about how I dry brushed because that post was so long and also I did a very slight dry brush, it’s not really the best example for me to use to really show you the benefits of transforming something by dry brushing. So today, I thought I would go into more details and show you some great examples of how you can really dramatically update furniture, old mirrors or dated frames with this super easy (and fast) technique.
One of my favorite examples of dry brushing are two old dated gold mirrors that I transformed for my friend Sharon when we did the Studio 319 remodel project. Here is the before picture of a dated mirror that she had that had this cheap looking gold finish:
This is what the piece looked like after I went over the raised design with a dry brush:
Here is another mirror that we did but unfortunately, I didn’t take a before shot. Here is what it looked like after I dry brushed it. This mirror was a really ornate solid gold color and it was just way too much gold. We wanted to tone down the gold and give it sort of a chalky finish:
I literally did these two pieces in less than 30 minutes. That’s how easy, easy this technique is. Big impact with little effort! The best part is that more than any other paint technique out there, you have the most control of the end finish by dry brushing. This is another super easy technique for you beginner painters!
So how do I do it?
I dry brush a little differently than most people. I prefer to use a narrow foam brush because its flat when held flush and there are no stray bristles that could get paint on areas that I do not want paint:
As you can see above, I just hold my brush vertical and flush with the raised areas of the piece and very lightly swipe. Less is more! I can always go back and do it again to add more definition but I always am very careful and do very little at a time in layers. I step back and look at the piece and if it needs it again, I do another round.
Also, I use paint vs. glaze. Glaze is translucent and paint is more vibrant. Most of the time I’m going lighter and white glaze is way too translucent. I also like to use flat paint because flat paint has more lime in it that helps give a chalky finish. For the two mirrors above, I used the color Barcelona Beige in flat from Sherwin Williams. It’s the ideal color for dry brushing a lighter color. White would be too light and the Barcelona Beige gives a more muted natural look. I always keep a quart of this paint on hand for quick updates.
Now, the most important part of this.. For dry brushing, you basically need to dip your brush into the paint and get it almost dry. I usually dip my brush into the paint and then I squeeze it close to dry with an old t-shirt. You don’t want it completely dry but you want to take the wet edge off it. I also sometimes wipe my brush on paper like this:
Again, you don’t want the brush totally dry but you want it pretty close!
For large furniture pieces like the hutch that I did a few weeks ago, I do use the narrow foam brush for the smaller detailed areas and I use a very wide paint brush for the overall piece:
For large furniture pieces, I dip my brush in the paint (for the hutch, I used Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams) and then dry it off and then I very lightly and quickly swipe like I’m swatting the piece:
Again, the hutch above is not the best example for dry brushing because my friend Rita just wanted a very subtle amount of the dark but if you look closely at the piece, you can see the dark swipes. Also, the best part of dry brushing is that if you mess up or get too much on, just wipe it off completely with a wet wash cloth and start over (make sure you dry the piece too before you start over).
You can also use this technique for adding touches of gold like I did to my entry way iron table:
You can dry brush touches of gold onto anything like furniture, mirrors or frames. A word of warning though, the only gold paint that I use for this is made by Testors and it’s an enamel paint that comes in a little tiny jar and it’s sold in the model car/airplane section at the craft store. Nothing else comes even close in non cheap looking gold in my opinion. All the other “rub and buff” type golds out there either look more like copper or are too translucent. Testors gold is perfect and I think it’s by far the best out there. Nothing comes even close!
By the way, I also only use the Testors for other metallics as well. If you want to add a touch of silver or zinc by dry brushing like I did to my clock arms below, the colors are always spot on:
I cannot tell you how many amazing uses there are for this dry brushing technique. Look through your junk boxes and see if there is something you can update instantly by dry brushing. I have turned so many junk pieces into treasures by simply adding a swipe of dry brush.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me today friends! If you happened to miss last week’s Paint It Monday, I shared some of my favorites from the awesome
2014 Paint Color Forecasts. To get to that post, just click the color palette below: