Saturday, 26 July 2014

An Artist is Defined By Their Talent, Not Their Medium

So tell me...if you have two dressers, side by side...and one was painted in Annie Sloan's "Old White" and the other was painted in a random off white by CIL and handmixed with plaster of one better than the other?

Is one worth more than the other?

This is a trend I am seeing in the painted furniture realm and it really grinds my gears; if you are truly a good painter, it does not matter WHAT medium you use, it is your eye and your technique that will produce a beautiful end result.

I think the gourmet paint brands have done a wonderful job of "branding" their paint products just as clothing labels do - "who are YOU wearing?" could conceivably be said to a piece of furniture and it would kind of make sense!

We are drawn to this fictitious idea that painters who only use "gourmet" brands are somehow better than those who choose not to spend ridiculous amounts on overpriced paint, and then somehow feel entitled to price their pieces much higher because of this (generally speaking).

In my opinion, there is an "elitist" attitude among those who subscribe to one paint company and allow themselves to be branded.

But this is what I don't quite understand....

If using a super expensive brand makes you a great painter, then why are you only limiting yourself to 30 stock colour options? That would totally hamper my creativity! (yes, I know you can mix them and make other ones, but still - I have 1000's of stock options with Benjamin Moore!)

Again, if using gourmet paint makes you a great painter, then why aren't you aware of all the tried and true methods and products that may work better in certain instances than your limited gourmet brand?

Is this offering the best product to your customers?

Similarly, how do you know how great your gourmet brand is, if you haven't tested out the other "lowly" options on the market to be sure on where you stand?

I have said it before and I will repeat it now - I do not think Annie Sloan (or similar paints) are BAD - I think they are just fine, but I also think they have their time and place and you need to know how to utilize other options. I am horrified at the amount people spend to purchase paint, brushes, wax, etc just because the clerk at the store told them that is the only thing they can use.

I love seeing the look on client's faces when they come in to the store and we strike up a conversation about chalk paint, Annie Sloan etc...they are shocked to learn that:

-You CAN use any latex paint you want because you can mix the chalk paint at home
- NO, you don't have to buy a $35 round brush, a decent $5 brush from the hardware store has served me just fine!
- Paste Wax is sold at Home Hardware. For $13!
- Same as above, fancy dancy wax brush NOT needed
- You aren't limited to Paste Wax as a top coat.

It really blows their minds sometimes, because they have been encouraged to believe otherwise. And hey, that's super smart for the paint companies, because if people believe it, they make more money!

My advice to other painters?

Make your piece worth it.
Don't but a few coats of Paris Grey, distress, wax, and slap a $300 price tag on it. Go that extra mile and experiment, set yourself apart from the cookie cutter pieces I see every day!

You have an imagination, use it ;)

Happy Painting!


  1. I have been painting furniture for about 2 years and I have used Annie Sloan, The American Paint Company, homemade chalk paint and straight low VOC latex. There is a difference in labour and appearance. Latex requires sanding before you paint but not afterward, no topcoat and probably chips less easily. The brush is harder to clean afterward, the look is good for a smooth clean style but it definitely looks like latex since it seems to sit on top of the wood. Homemade chalk paint although a lot cheaper is not worth the work to me. I have used it multiple times and made the mistake of using it twice on dining sets because there was so much painting required of the legs. Hated the sanding afterward and I still don't like the way my kitchen chairs feel. The brushes clean up like latex since it is latex. The American Paint Co. is similar to Annie Sloan but always thicker. This is good because you get even more life out of a can as you have to water it down but not so good because it is less smooth. I don't mind this paint but it tends to dry a bit streaky. Their waxes, on the other hand, are great and easy to work with. Annie Sloan is still my favourite even with the price. It is very smooth to work with and feels lovely after it has been waxed and lightly sanded. I have never used more than half a can to paint a large dresser ( except with pure white). I like the wax; I don't like the look of urethane although I have used it ( you might as well use latex). Most of all, I like the way the paint looks on wood as the paint was designed to make furniture look old. It's really a faux finish. As for paste wax, I have used that as well when I ran out of wax. It is cheaper but much harder to work with as it is drier, more crumbly. I'm pretty familiar with it since I still have waxed floors in my house. Any of the specialty waxes are worth the price in this case, since they are so much smoother and less toxic smelling. So, I understand your sentiments and would like cheaper paint, I estimate a dresser costs me about $20 to paint, but I definitely feel that chalk paint has revolutionized the process of painting wood and is worth it.

  2. Thanks for your comment!
    I totally respect that you use what works best for you as you have experimented and know what's out there!

    Have you tried using calcium as the base for homemade chalk paint? It is the same base as ASCP in essence and does not clump... It also keeps well if sealed. I find I prefer how that sands down more so than the ACSP but that is personal preference! :)

  3. I'm curious how you mix your paint with the plaster of Paris.. Is there a ratio you use? How do you know when enough is enough and that you have created a nice chalky finish? :)