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Dry-Brushing the Shutters

I found this pair of shutters for my living room at a second-hand store in town and knew they were perfect for the living room wall above our fireplace.

The fact they started out red didn’t deter me in the least.  Paint: it’s what I do around here 🙂

I decided to paint them a whitewashed gray, but didn’t have a definite plan.  Here’s how I went about it.

First, I hosed the shutters off really well in our garage, let them dry (mostly ~ I may have gotten impatient), then painted a solid coat of Behr’s Ashwood which is a very close match to Annie Sloan’s French Linen.  (I mixed 1 1/2 cups Ashwood with 1/2 cup Calcium Carbonate and 1/4 cup water to make my own chalkpaint.)

Next, I poured a little bit of Ashwood and a little bit of Sherwin Williams Creamy on two paper plates, and with a VERY dry brush, I poked my brush into the Creamy and very lightly ~ almost airbrushing ~ I swept my brush over and onto the gray.  If it started looking too white, I dipped my same brush in a dab of Ashwood and dry-brushed over the white to bring some gray back in.

Everything stayed very dry because I kept the bristles on my brush almost dry (you can see on my paper plates above how I would get excess paint off the brush by dabbing the excess right on the plate before I went over to the shutters), and I painted the shutters so lightly I never let the paint become sticky and wet.  

When it looked like one area of the shutter had the look I was going for, I used a dry bathroom washcloth to blend the still-slightly-damp white and gray paint together so my brush strokes didn’t look so piecey.

All of a sudden, I realized I’d gone way too far with the white.  I’d probably just had my afternoon latte and, well, I get a little excited after I’ve just had my latte.

I decided to carry it upstairs anyway and see how it looked, even though I knew it was way too white for the look I was going for.

Here it is on the left, looking way too white and messy.  On the right is the other shutter in various stages of “washing.”  Seeing them hung in place confirmed I wanted to go with the very light dry-brushing like in the middle of the right shutter, so back down the stairs I went. 

As I always tell me daughter:

An artist will always make mistakes.  
The true gift of an artist 
is in her ability 
to hide those mistakes.

So, back in my garage I painted the too-white shutter Ashwood again, then went much easier on the dry brushing with white.  This time, I didn’t add any gray paint to my brush as I went along; I just used an even lighter dry-brushing technique with the white, then rubbed gently with a dry white washrag to blend the white brush strokes into the gray a bit.

You can see in this picture above how lightly I went with the white, letting the gray be the dominant color.  I think the end result was much more pleasing in the room.

Dry-brushing, as you can see, is certainly not a science.  The good news is that you can play around with it, dabbing a little more paint here, wiping some off there, and keep stepping back to evaluate the overall effect.

And if worse comes to worse, you can wait thirty minutes or so and repaint the whole thing to start from scratch 🙂

Happy Painting to You!


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