Have you ever admired hand-painted art on a fabric chair and wondered if you could do these fabric painting techniques? I'm here to tell you that you can and I'm going to share with you some very important tips and steps to make your project successful!
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Through a lot of trial and error, I have mastered my fabric painting techniques and discovered a few things that are sure to set you up for an enjoyable project! Also, keep in mind if you'd like very detailed step-by-step video instructions on this, I have chair painting tutorials available for you HERE!
Watch this week's Fabric Painting Techniques YouTube video.
My Favorite Fabric Chair Projects Throughout the Years
I have painted well over 100 fabric chairs in my painting career and they all were done with some sort of handpainted feature art! I LOVE using fabric chairs as my canvas!
Hand-Painted Giraffe Chairs - a whimsical pair of posh lovers
Painted Safari Animal Print Chair - three animal prints on one chair using stencils
Painted Zebra Chair - with loads of personality
Whimsical Watercolor mermaid chair - from the world's ugliest chair
Whimsical Hydrangeas - bold floral whimsy
The ORIGINAL Mermaid Chairs - I painted soooo many of these as custom orders
And while we are on the subject of painted chairs...Did you know you can also paint leather chairs? Take a look at MY personal office chair or this gray-painted leather upholstered chair that happens to be my most popular project on YouTube.
SEVEN Easy Steps to Create Hand-painted art on Fabric Chair
Follow these simple fabric painting techniques for a stunning eye-catching hand-painted fabric chair every time!
1. Prep your fabric!
I prefer to use Boss in gray as a primer to cover any pattern or color using 1-2 thin coats. Once dry, paint your fabric in your color of choice. I almost always use Silk Whitecap in 1 or 2 thin coats with light sanding in between. I love the sheen it leaves on the fabric! It sets up the perfect texture to act as a canvas.
Pro Tip: Avoid painting tweeds and velvet - it just doesn't work!
2. Draw your art
I recommend drawing in pencil first. Once the design is drawn and you are happy with it, "set" the design in Sharpie marker by tracing over the pencil drawing. This allows you to paint and use water and your design will always be visible for you.
3. Paint your drawing
This is the fun part! I treat this process like watercolor - except I recommend chalk mineral paints. It is very important to wet the section that you want to paint with water first. I apply a small amount with a clean brush. I then introduce the chalk mineral paint in my color of choice with a new brush.
When the paint touches the water it begins to move in the water just like watercolors do! It does not bleed onto the dry fabric and it will only move in the wet areas!
I work in small areas at a time in thin coats. I often use a rag to blot away any excess water or paint before moving on.
You can let it dry and go back to add more to build and deepen the color....or leave it thin and sheer. Both looks are beautiful! This will dry very quickly.
4. Add shadows and highlights
At this point, you can begin to bring your art to life by shading around the edges (right up next to the sharpie line) with paint that is not as watered down so the color appears deeper.
You can see this here in the tail of the mermaid.
You can also add white to your colors to lighten them and add highlights to areas that the light might catch.
PRO TIP: Your focus should be THIN layers so as not to add buildup to the fabric.
Again....this will dry very quickly.
5. Outlines and Doodles
You will still be able to see your original sharpie lines but some may appear weak or faint. I recommend an oil-based black paint pen to reaccentuate the original sharpie lines. Very often I will add little squiggles or even white oil-based markers to add another color of interest to the outline.
6. Sign your work
While you have that paint pen out....go ahead and sign your name! Be proud of what you have created! Allow this to dry overnight.
7. Set your work
You have options here. You can allow your work to cure for 21-30 days and the Dixie Belle chalk paint will self-seal. However, I prefer to use Dixie Belle Easy Peasy Spray Wax. I pour this into a bowl and apply a single coat with a brush to the entire fabric surface. You can also use Dixie Belle Best Dang Wax in Clear by applying it with a brush and wiping away the excess.
Enjoy! You did it! Your work is done and it's time to show it off and let others see your creation!
I hope you found these fabric painting techniques to be helpful! I know many of you are furniture painters already and just need a little boost to the fabric department! I think you are ready now! I can't wait to see what you create!
More Detailed Instruction: Fabric Painting Techniques
If this piques your interest but you still feel unsure, I have TWO chair painting tutorials to consider:
Optiion #1: Art of Fabric Chair Painting
My 2+ hour chair painting course takes you through the entire process including:
what type of chair to paint (or not to paint)
what materials to use
how to paint the frame
how to draw the actual artwork
...and how to paint it!
Option #2: Painted Fabric Chair Tutorial
My basic chair painting course is a great place to start (at a lower price) if you are just looking to learn how to prep and paint fabric without all the extras.
More Painted Fabric Chairs Project Inspiration:
Click on any photo below for more before and after photos and detailed painting instructions on how I created these unique looks.
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