26 February 2016

The Art of Colour Mixing

It’s been a busy time here at Annie Sloan HQ, we’ve been running a week long workshop for my stockists from around the world and I’ve had a great time teaching them new techniques that I’ve been working on, plus going over the tried and tested basics too. I love it when my stockists get together here in Oxford, as they are all so individual and have such different styles, so I love seeing all their enthusiasm and ideas fizzing off each other and off me! Plus, there is nothing like catching up with old friends too!

With all these new ideas and techniques brewing away, I always like to make sure that one of the fundamental things I teach my stockists and one that is truly at the heart of my business never changes. Since I began training my stockists I have always focused on colour mixing with Chalk Paint®. I want all of my stockists around the world to be confident colour experts and understand basic colour theory. I want them to be the first stop for their customers when they decide on what colour or combination is right for them, what colours work together, what makes colours warmer or cooler, what specific tones work, how to darken colours, how to create new shades, you get the picture!

You may not know that I come from an art school background, which is where my love of colour theory really blossomed. I loved learning about where specific colours came from and how they were used throughout history, how they worked or clashed together and how to really use them in the best possible way. As a poor student, I had to make sure that I made the colours of paint that I bought really stretch and last me a long time, so out necessity, I became infatuated with mixing.

Most of us have done some basic colour mixing when we were children, usually with those bold, bright primary colours of red, yellow and blue, also known as cadmium red, cadmium yellow and ultramarine. From these three colours , you can, in theory, mix any colour you can think of. However, if you’ve ever done some colour mixing you might know it’s not as easy as that! Images of a sludgy brown when I wanted something like a gorgeous earthy yellow or a deep, rich purple spring to mind.

So when I was creating my colours, I wanted a tool that became a springboard for you to launch into an exciting world of colours that you might not have even thought you could create yourself. I wanted to make sure that my colour palette was accessible and easy to understand and that it should be a tool in your arsenal, just as important as your favourite paint brush.

I say colour wheel, but it’s actually more of a triangle. This is because it is a simplified version of the classic colour wheel, with the thee points being shades that you cannot create by mixing, those primary colours, which in my world are called Emperor’s Silk, English Yellow and Napoleonic Blue. From these three, the colours expand to make oranges, greens and purples, such as Arles, Florence and Emile. What makes my paint unique is that not only do I encourage you to mix my colours together, but I’ve made it as easy as I can, too. There is very little black pigment in my paint, so when you mix any of my colours together you are far less likely to end up with that sludgy, dull brown of the past.

Talking of black, if you wanted to darken a colour the best way is to not add black (i.e. Graphite) but to find it’s complementary colour. To do this simply find the colour on the opposite side of the wheel and add a little to your colour. So, if I wanted to darken Emperor’s Silk, I would add a little Olive or Florence to reach a beautiful, rich red. To bring depth and interest to a piece of furniture this technique looks great when you pair it with the same base colour you started with. For example, I would paint a chest of drawers Emperor's Silk and then use my darkened, mixed red to any detailing or even just the corners of the drawers, to really make the piece interesting.

If you have never tried mixing any of my Chalk Paint® colours together, the best tip I can give you is to study my colour palette and then start with a colour you feel comfortable with, even if that is just adding a little Old White to a colour to lighten it up. You never know, you could become a colour expert in your own right, mixing everything from minty greens, bright fuchsias and even chestnut browns (try Antibes Green and Burgundy). Adding a little Old White to your mixed colour really reveals it's undertones too.

And now, my new mixing sticks are perfect for sharing these gorgeous colours you’ve created with me, just snap a picture (or two or three!) and don’t forget to use either #anniesloan or better yet #MixitMonday, the dedicated day for colour mixing with Chalk Paint®. This week, Ive been doing just that with colours that people have mixed that inspire me, have a look at some recent colours I’ve been creating over on my Facebook and Instagram.

19 February 2016

Tim Gould's Memory Table

Please join me in giving the wonderful Tim Gould a round of applause. Tim has been working with me for the past few months as one of my Painters in Residence, and today I am sharing the last project created during his residency. Tim has developed a technique using my paint, Chalk Paint® and homemade vinyl stencils to apply text to furniture - to give it a voice of it's own, and to bring out it's real character.

Tim had this table for years, but its glass top had been smashed in an accident and was covered in stains and marks accumulated over the years. But these marks of age and the memories that accompanied them inspired Tim to give this table this wonderful transformation.

To achieve this look, Tim created word and image stencils on a computer, printed them on to vinyl, and applied them to the table surface. (The stencils are actually being used here in a reversed way - the stencil masks the details and shapes (the text and images)). Tim then painted over the table (and the areas that have been masked off with his stencils). To create a patina that looked brimming with history, Tim applied layers of paint - starting with Pure, Emperor's Silk, Provence and finishing with Graphite. He then sanded areas of the paint back to reveal the various colours beneath.

The words and shapes were highlighted by applying Loose Brass Leaf to the area around them. Once dry, Tim carefully peeled back the stencils/ masked areas to expose the letters and shapes.

To finish the piece, Tim covered the legs with Loose Brass Leaf, and then applied my Clear Soft Wax with a little Dark Soft Wax to add depth.

Have you got an old piece of furniture, whose marks of age could be turned in to a feature with a little Chalk Paint®?

Yours, Annie

Follow Tim on InstagramFacebook, and his website: http://www.objectables.co.uk/

And remember to follow #PaintersInResidence on Instagram and Facebook, as well as my Painters in Residence board on Pinterest

11 February 2016

Image transfer with Decoupage Glue and Varnish

Back in November, I wrote about the virtues of découpage, and explained how easy and fun it is to apply paper images on to your pieces of furniture and walls, to create different styles and looks – from bohemian to warehouse. 

Today I'd like to share another way of adding an image directly on to…well, anything really - furniture, walls, even fabric! I think I first wrote about image transfer in my book, Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture and More. It’s a technique which I absolutely love and have been able to play around with in many different ways, using my Decoupage Glue and Varnish as a transfer medium. With this method, the image remains on the furniture but the paper on it is removed.

A transfer image can come from almost anywhere, such as a découpage motif book, a magazine, or the internet - as this technique works best with laser prints and photocopies you will need to scan any images from magazines, books etc. on to your computer. When choosing your image, bear in mind that it will transfer in reverse, so you may need to flip it on your computer before printing it out, especially if any text is included.

I start with a surface that has been painted but not waxed (unless you’re transferring onto fabric, then just make sure it’s clean and crease free). Once the paint is completely dry, the image can be applied. Choose a good strong image – I like using black and white which, as you can see from the picture of a door here at HQ, will adapt well to having different colours behind it. Adjust the size on a computer so it is exactly as you want it to be. You can just about see a seam in this picture as I wanted it to be on a grand scale – that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I think it adds to the general effect.

I printed the picture on normal copier paper using a laser printer. You can also use a photocopier, but I'd avoid inkjet prints as they can bleed a little which can distort the image. Using sharp scissors, I cut my image out, getting as close to the image outline as possible. I then brushed a thin layer of Découpage Glue and Varnish over the part of the door on which I wanted the transfer. I was very careful not to make the area on which I was gluing much larger than the image, as the unused glue will leave a slightly sticky, shiny area when it is not covered by the picture.

Being extremely careful, I then painted the image with a very thin layer of glue (right side up) and, whilst it was still wet, slid it on to the surface face down. Make sure any air bubbles are worked out or even pricked with a pin as you don’t want these on your finished piece. Rub the image with a dry cloth, making sure it is totally stuck to the surface (don’t forget the edges!) and leave it to dry completely.

Now the magic begins. Once the glue was completely dry, I added a little water, just dabbing at the picture with my fingers. Once it was damp but not soggy, I started rubbing in little circular movements which has the effect of peeling off the paper. The paper will come off in layers so at first it may look a little cloudy – keep going. You could use a cloth, but I prefer the control that comes with using my fingers - I get a much stronger sense of how hard to rub! Once all the paper is off, the image will be clear, although it may look a little dull once it is dry so brush the whole thing with my Clear Wax and voila! You can rough it up a little by gently sanding the edges, or leave it as a clean, crisp image.

How have you used my Découpage Glue and Varnish to create images on your projects? Share them with me using #AnnieSloan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and use @anniesloanhome to tag me too!

Yours, Annie

5 February 2016

Maison et Objet Paris

Last week I was in Paris for Maison et Objet 2016.  It is *the* big international trade show for interior design, with exhibitors – and visitors – from all over the world.  It’s so exciting, I go once a year to see for myself all the new trends.  Some of the stands are just enormous – I worked out that one was easily twice the size of my house! Often it’s where I’ll find new things for my shop here in Oxford, but this year I had my own stand there, and had a wonderful time meeting with stockists and potential new stockists from across the globe – Hungary to Japan!   (Images below- left: Shiro and Kimie Ito, my distributors in Japan, with Monika Gawinecka - my distributor in Poland. Middle: the Chalk Paint colour wheel. Right: My Spanish distributor, Maria, doing a short demo on the stand.)

I made time to take in what else was going on – I’m so frustrated but, because it is strictly trade only, I’m not allowed to share any of the pictures I took of the other stands with you.  However, I just had to sketch out some of the amazing ways in which people are using colour.  I was incredibly inspired, and – I hope! – you will be, too.

For the past few years, the big story has been white with grey.  I love this pared down look, but somehow it just doesn’t excite me in the way that bold use of colour does, so I’m thrilled to say that this year colour is big and strong!  There were some really powerful statements: red walls, red furniture, strong splashes of bright green and yellows…yellow everywhere!  And, importantly, this wasn’t just in reference to one particular style (e.g. mid-century Modern) but across the range.  Palatial grandeur, warehouse, bohemian (of course!) all infused with the colours I know so well from the Chalk Paint® palette (Emperor’s Silk, Burgundy, Antibes Green, Greek Blue, English Yellow to name but a few).  Barcelona Orange and English Yellow worked particularly well in warehouse settings, especially when paired with Paris Grey, French Linen, Versailles

I’ve been struggling to come up with a way of describing the colours used, and can only come up with ‘strong florals’ – these aren’t pastels, but instead the strong red of tulips, vivid yellow like daffodils, marigold orange and beautiful cornflower blues.  And in combinations which were striking and somehow exotic.  Here’s a sketch based on a stand I saw which put together Graphite with Emperor's Silk, Antibes Green, Barcelona Orange and English Yellow.

Despite this and although colours were generally more dramatic, they were also used to create some more gentle looks.  The ubiquity of white and grey has been refreshed by using colour to replace white - it is now grey with orange, or blues, or yellow.  I saw a fabulous room set made up of soft greys – so relaxing – but with one vibrant orange chair – I love it!! For this look I've used Paris Grey and Barcelona Orange from the Chalk Paint® palette. (See image above.) 

I love seeing pictures of your bold colour statement pieces, keep sharing them with me using #AnnieSloan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Use @anniesloanhome to tag me too!

Yours, Annie