Color wash inspiration…


Painting has always been a relaxing activity for me and with everything lately being a whirlwind of home repairs, decluttering, sorting, and finding forgotten artwork, I have been needing some relaxing time. One of my favorite painting techniques is Color Washes, a faux painting finish that can replicate the appearance of aged materials, using paint thinned out to create light washes of color over surfaces. Now this brings me to a chain of events that end up using Color Washes for home and the ceramic lady above.

When we moved into our home several years ago it was a rush; escrow had closed much later than we expected it to, our area got hit with a rather strong Winter storm and the weekend we finally got our keys in hand we had a car accident, hitting black ice. We were left with less than a week to move into our home and to get everything out of the apartment. It was a rush and hectic in snow, rain and hail but thanks to my parents and our awesome friend Emi we got it done. However that also meant I had no time to repaint or fix up the house! As the months progressed we got so busy with things we kept pushing off the remodeling. Car repairs, medical and other things pushed it off further. Which brings us to this year. We had noticed the floor tiles had not been properly put in and over time they started to crack and pop up. We knew that meant we had to do something now.

So we ordered new flooring and while we waited for the supplies to come in we took the opportunity to  declutter our home big time. We have honestly lost track of how many trips we have taken to thrift stores and senior centers to donate items, but it feels wonderful to have space and find happy new homes for things we no longer need or want. We then started to remove the floor molding, patch, texture and repaint the walls.


Here is an example of one of the walls in the house, in this case the main living room wall with fireplace. Previous owners had painted the fireplace a bright orange; when we moved in I tried sanding it, but the paint just didn’t want to come off. So I quickly painted it with a red color wash to make it look more normal. Now that we are redoing the house I had sanded down all the walls (they had been painted a yellow/orange color), patched and textured any damage. I had been testing paint colors on this wall to get an idea and realized the fireplace staying that orange color was not going to look good.


This is after scrubbing the walls and fireplace, primer and two coats of new paint. The paint color in person looks like a warm Italian stucco. With a small amount of the left over paint I did a color wash on the fireplace to give it a more muted look, a 2 parts water to 1 part paint ratio. I applied this in several layers, careful to let each coat dry, to make sure I was getting to color I wanted. The more muted and aged appearance goes well with the walls and decor in the house. With the living room walls and hallway finished, we will be starting on the kitchen and bathrooms next. Then we will be ripping out the rather damaged tiles and putting in new flooring.


While I continued to clean out more of the things we didn’t want I started to find some of my older artwork, this ceramic sculpture being one of them. I was inspired by early Meso-American artwork to create her many years ago and to this day still like her for the simplicity of style and color. However her paint had been damaged along with some pieces of ceramic chipped. Inspired by how well the color wash worked for the fireplace, I thought “why not try the same for this piece of ceramic?”


I started with sanding down the edges of the pieces, smoothing out the paint and ceramic chips, and giving her a more aged and worn appearance.


Using the 2 parts water to 1 part paint ratio, I gave her a brown acrylic color wash. I did three coats of color wash, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next. I made sure to get all of the nooks and crannies of the piece, trying to mimic the look of aged ceramic, of an artifact spending many years in dirt.


There she is, looking like an artifact ready to displayed in a museum! I can’t wait to try other color washes on other surfaces and projects in the house. What might you try a color wash on?

Until next time, safe travels!