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Free Ultimate Furniture Painting Guide

Fabric Painting Techniques with Chalk Paint: Hand-Painted Mermaid

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!

This post may contain affiliate links. I could make a commission at no charge to you if you purchase my recommended products. Please read my disclosure here and my privacy policy here.

fabric painting techniques on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

If you are a new reader, hello and welcome to the Fancy Fam! With over a decade of furniture painting experience, I can honestly say that sharing my projects through this blog is still my favorite way to inspire! I've got years worth of fun and creative ways to update your home decor and furniture through paint! If this sounds like something you'd like to have delivered to you every Sunday be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter here!

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!

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.

fabric painting techniques | start with water on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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!

fabric painting techniques | thin light layers on chalk paint on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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.

fabric painting techniques | blotting away excess paint on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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.

fabric painting techniques on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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.

fabric painting techniques on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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.

fabric painting techniques | add your signature on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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.

fabric painting techniques on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

Enjoy! You did it! Your work is done and it's time to show it off and let others see your creation!

fabric painting techniques on hand-painted mermaid chair by Traceys Fancy

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:

  1. what type of chair to paint (or not to paint)

  2. what materials to use

  3. how to paint the frame

  4. how to draw the actual artwork

  5. ...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.

JOIN ME FOR MORE...with Curiously Creative

If you enjoyed this and want more of a deep dive into home decor and DIY processes, I would love it if you joined my exclusive online creative group, Curiously Creative. I show up LIVE to guide you through every step of updating, upcycling, crafting, and creating on-trend home decor and gift-giving ideas!

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