Any muralists around?
September 6, 2016 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I am obsessed with this bear.. But how did they paint the blue?

The article with the photo says it is a painted bear not a decal but I can't figure out how they painted the bear like that? You think it was sponges? But it looks so good, how do you get sponges to look that well blended? Anyone have any tips? And for the white details think they came back and painted them on? What kind of paint do you think they used? Wall paint or acrylic.. If you use acrylic on a wall can you paint over it later?

posted by xicana63 to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sponges would not surprise me. I think the effect was created by either working in semitransparant paint that's not equally thick all over the image, or sponging several shades of blue over each other and then dabbing or rubbing at it (possibly with a brush) to make them blend better. The paint needs to stay wet enough for long enough to make this possible.
It's also possible to get this kind of blending with a badger brush. The image would need to be a lot larger for me to say with any certainty how it was done.

I do think the white was painted over it later on.

For the blue I would use either acrylic (and use medium to make it more transparent, and not make it dry so fast) or oil paint in Liquin. Not wall paint.

Yes, acrylic on a wall can be painted over later.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:02 AM on September 6, 2016

The white may have been masked before the bear was painted. Otherwise it might have needed more than one layer to cover up the blue.

I also don't think regular wall paint was used and more likely acrylic. It is also possible that a top layer of blue colour was added in one or two similar shades with spray paint and then blended, but acrylic and sponges seems more likely.

You could easily experiment with acrylic paints on a board to see if you can get the same effect.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:12 AM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

White was probably done with stencils, which allows either multiple layers or thicker coat, so don't have to worry about coverage.
posted by aimedwander at 7:41 AM on September 6, 2016

I am not a muralist, but I am an artist who knows something about color. What you are looking at there is a muted blue that tends towards green. It appears that the artist added some black to the original blue (possibly cobalt) to mute it and then added pure black again after the overall color was achieved (the subtle sponging effect). The artist may have used a slow dry medium to be able to work wet-into-wet. (Or maybe they just worked fast, acrylic dries fast in certain climates). This is very sophisticated and nuance-y work. The white was painted over after the bear image was dry --free hand.
I would suggest you go to a house paint place with that photograph. Find a house paint chip that matches...then go to the art store and find the closest acrylic paint that matches. Add some black to the blue (in small doses) until you get the muted blue. Paint it on a small canvas panel (like 11x14 or so) to see if you can replicate it. It may take a few tries to get that color. I am certain that the person who painted it has a lot of art experience. So don't be discouraged if you can't reach the same charm right away...paint it several times (small) if you have to. :)
posted by naplesyellow at 8:27 AM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have painted several murals and large scale images on walls. It looks extra amazing because you're viewing it from 20ish feet away. Up closer (pic) it probably still looks amazing but you will see the technique more clearly. I do not know what they did but you could achieve the exact same effect by drawing the bear in on your wall in pencil, and then painting the outline of the bear in your chosen darkest blueish color, and filling it all in with the same color. If you can do that part, there is no need for stencils, you have a good eye. Then take a small amount of your chosen blueish and mix it in a paper cup or some such thing with a smidge of your white paint, and sponge in areas. When I look at that I see more lightness in the chest, wrists, belly, with a bit less lightness in the feet/legs and also the face. You can actually see pretty much all of the areas that were sponged. There should be just the slightest variation in color between your original and the lighter. If you go too light the sponging is very obvious. After the bear is dry, don't be afraid to lightly sand it all over to smooth out any texture the sponge has left on your walls. Then hand paint in the white accents. That bear is totally awesome and I can understand your obsession.
posted by the webmistress at 8:37 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's rather simple: it's a blotted and layered field of several layers of a semitransparent pigment. Go get a bottle of Golden (brand) fluid acrylic in phthalo blue, green shade (or use a mixing guide to get you closer to the exact indigo shade you're seeking). It's a semitransparent pigment in a fluid base. You can dilute it with water or another medium (e.g. fluid matte medium). Then you can layer color with a sponge, with a wadded rag, with... anything. Drying time between layers will be minimal. And yes, you can paint over acrylic.

The design's almost definitely been masked with tape at the edges, with details (in very opaque white and black, probably titanium white and carbon black to ensure no blue shines through) and edge correction (in very opaque, probably titanium, white) added in after the body is dry, possibly two or more coats for the final detail work. For most people, it will be simpler to just mask out the outline, and add the details in as opaque white/black over the blue paint instead of going through the trouble of cutting out all the little furry details in masking tape first.

If your wall is matte white or gloss white, be sure to edge correct in the same degree of matte or gloss white. This is really easy these days, since companies like Golden make matte and gloss liquid mediums that you can add to other acrylic paint.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:14 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Late afternoon's got it. You can get lots of variation by adding a lot of water to the paint, so it won't completely cover the white background. You can probably do the whole thing with just a little bit of pthalo blue (it's really strong) and water and a rag. Wipe it on thin and diluted, you can always add another layer.

Use artists-grade paint for the white, like Golden fluid acrylic. Cheaper white won't cover.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 12:58 PM on September 6, 2016

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