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French ultramarine provides the nearest colour to the brilliant blue of lapis lazuli. To create the subtle shaded background, you also need a deeper blue, such as Prussian blue. A similar colour can be made by mixing French ultramarine with a little burnt umber. A further range of shades can be created by mixing a little Titanium white artist's oil colour with each of the blues. These paler shades are used to spatter the surface lightly with drifts of fine speckles.
Transparent Oil Glaze
For the background, mix the artists oil paint with a little transparent oil glaze. This gives a translucent effect, similar to polished stone. It also makes the paint easier to work with by preventing it from drying out too quickly; this allows you time to soften and blend the colours. You need very little glaze - about one part glaze to two parts paint. To make the oil glaze, first mix the oil colour with a few drops of white spirit, then add the glaze and mix.
Lapis lazuli has gold flecks in it, which are known as fool's gold because they are not actually gold but yellow pyrites. Use bronze powder, which is available in various shades of gold, to reproduce the flecks. Dip the paint brush in white spirit first and then the powder. Flick the brush to produce tiny cloud - like splatters, or gently trail it over the surface in subtle drifting swirls of gold.
The size of brush you need depends on the area of background you are going to paint. A 1.2cm paint brush should be suitable for medium to small items. Use a 2.5cm size for larger areas. Use a good quality brush that does not shed hairs; before you start, make sure that there are no loose ones left which could spoil your work. To spatter the paint, use a small stencil or artists brush. If you want to add marble like veins, you will need a fine pointed artists paint brush or a feather.
You will need:
Household oil based primer / undercoat in white
artists oil paints in French ultramarine, Prussian blue and Titanium white
Transparent oil glaze
Bronze powder (gold)
1.2 or 2.5cm household paint brush
small stencil or artists brush
a fine point artists brush or feather
clean lint free rag
fine abrasive paper
two saucers for mixing colours
satin finish polyurethane varnish
1. Having prepared the surface, paint the item to be decorated with
white primer / undercoat and leave to dry thoroughly. When dry, lightly
sand the surface with fine abrasive paper. Remove any fine dust
particles from the surface by gently wiping over with a cloth dipped in
a little white spirit.
2. Add a few drops of white spirit to the French ultramarine artists oil to make it easy to mix. Then add the glaze in a ration of one part glaze to two parts paint; mix well. With the paint brush, paint this glaze mixture onto the surface - cover about three quarters of the surface, leaving cloud shaped areas in white.
3. Mix the Prussian blue with the white spirit and glaze in the same way. Fill in the white shapes with the deeper blue.
4. Using first the sponge, then the rag, dab all over the surface to remove any brush marks and to blend the edges where the two blues meet. Do not blend to a point where the colour becomes completely even. Remove any remaining marks by lightly dusting the surface with a softening brush.
5. If you wish to create a marbles effect, add the veining at this stage. To form the veins, dip a feather in a small amount of white spirit; then drag it gently through the painted surface to create wavy lines to imitate veins. The white spirit will remove the blue surface paint to expose the white beneath. Restrict the veining to one area of the object only.
6. Place a little French ultramarine in one saucer and a little of the
Prussian blue in the other. Add a few drops of white spirit and titanium
white artists oil to each and mix to produce two new paler shades of
blue, but do not glaze. The mixed paint should be of a creamy consistency.
7. Lay the surface to be splattered as flat as possible. Using one colour and the stencil brush, spatter the paint lightly over the painted surface, creating fine drifts of tiny spots. When satisfied with the effect, follow this with the second colour. To avoid runs, allow the paint to dry partially before decorating the next surface.
8. Dip the stencil brush in a little white spirit and then the bronze powder and gently spatter it in the same way as before. Alternatively, trail the brush lightly through the surface to remove small areas of blue glaze and then add tiny splatters of gold.
9. When you are satisfied with the overall spattered effect, leave the object to dry in a warm dry place away from sunlight. When it is completely dry, protect the surface with two coats of polyurethane varnish. Then, for a really professional finish, polish with a little wax polish.
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