Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Series on Our Playroom - Part One: Walls

The Before Shot:

How to Lazure Paint a Room

Here's a little secret, Lazure Painting is simply colourwashing while meditating, and literally infusing a room with good intent and positive feelings.

If you want to paint a playroom like a waldorf kindergarten its really pretty easy, a bit time consuming, but easy.

You want you walls to look a bit like a watercolour painting. To do this you need intense colours of paint thinned down to watercolour consistency.

I didn't have access to any natural housepaints I trusted in the basement so I did the easy thing and I took in a sample of circle red, yellow and blue ( process colours - magenta, yellow and cyan) and had them colour match them at the paint store. Colour matching them means you'll be putting JUST magenta into a base, just the lemon yellow in a base and just the teal or true blue into a base. For some reason you can't just ask them to do that, they need to get directions from the computer to do it. You need so little you can go in on these with about 8 to 10 people - thats how far a litre of tinted paint will stretch, then you need neutral base glazing medium. I was at Canadian Tire so I got the Debbie Travis brand. She sells lovely colourwashing brushes for 30.00 each. Too rich for my blood, I apply mine with a baby washcloth in one hand and a natural bristle whitewash brush in the other, they only cost about 7.00. Scrub them vigorously - dry, then damp - to get them bushy and pull out any stray loose hairs.

Colourwash is usually made from a casein (milk) based paint with natural pigments. You can make it yourself with fine curd dry cottage cheese and dry pigments or Stockmar watercolour paints. You'll want to add some essential oil - spike lavender or orange works well, to keep it from going bad. Finish it with a beeswax polish and it will even be washable.

You'll need: 250g of drycurd cottage cheese and 2 tablespoons of natural pigment or paint concentrate.

This will make enough to cover a small room like - 10x10.

If you're using dry pigment add it to a bowl with 1/2 cup of cold water and mix it up. Then, leave it to stand overnight. Add a shot of vodka if it doesn't seem to be mixing into the water (some pigments don't like to mix with water and this is why I like using the stockmar paint instead).

Blend the curd with 1 cup water in a blender til its nice and smooth, put it through a strainer - leave it to drain. Then stir in the pigment. You'll want to stir this regularly as the colour settles to the bottom.

Scary Looking Supplies

Oh yeah the mythical colour "peach blossom"? It is just straight magenta. If that's the only colour you want to do just get the magenta. Now here's the thing with this colour - it looks beautiful in natural light. It looks alright with low wattage yellowish incandescent lights, it looks garish with any other artificial light, even in a if you use halogen or flourescent lights or anything like that, you're going to want to warm it up a bit either by applying it over a warm beige base or adding a tiny bit of yellow to it. If it feels too garish when you're done there are things that really help - you can colourglaze with cloudy white paint or add the yellow now, but if you are sick of painting, offset it with green plants and get tinted lamp shades (you can paint paper shades with watercolours), soften the light coming in with gauzy curtains. Better still get iron oxide pigment - it is more earthy and yellow than the magenta and looks beautiful in grown up spaces.

If your walls are in good shape, covered in flat paint, and white or very light builders beige you can work right on top of it. If you need to prep the walls, prime and paint them with a flatcoat of white or beige.

Now comes the fun part, you mix up your colourwash. For the first layer of colour you want it very thin. My preparation is one ramekin of paint to 3 ramekins of glaze to 12 ramekins of water. For all further layers I add in another ramekin of colour and 3 more ramekins of glaze to the remaining glaze. This leaves me with, I kid you not, enough glazing liquid to do about 1000 square feet!

To apply, wash the walls with a washcloth soaked in paint, think good thoughts, caress the walls like you're washing a baby, wipe up any drips as you go. Work in small areas and follow up the "washing" with your big brush, rather vigorously scrubbing in wide arcing movements. The idea is to scrub in the colour, and blend in any visible brushmarks. Build the colour up this way until you have the depth of colour you want. It will take *atleast* 4 coats. The first coat is very thin and inspid and you'll go "ohhhh pink and delicate" then an hour later you'll be dismayed because it is so pale. Two more coats in you'll think it is looking pretty good, another coat and you'll be tired of painting, but it is looking great and you'll be getting bored with painting so you'll want to stop, don't. This is the point where you have to centre yourself and do just one more coat because it will finally really have the luminous depth you're looking for. See, it really is like meditation.

Take your time, and really let it dry between coats or the scrubbing will take off the unsealed layers. Your first layer will dry quickly, the next layers need more time to cure.

Now this paint curing thing is where people mess up their attempts, either they try to do too large an area before going over it with the brush and the paint has dried enough to start curing when they do, or they get all picky and "worry" the paint in spots then don't understand why it's coming off the wall. Do not try to be a perfectionist, colourwashing will settle into indentations and things like corners a little thicker. Let it. If you can't repair something with scrubbing with the brush right away it is better to step away and come back at it later and decide how to deal with it. Don't paint "mad", stay loose, stay happy. Sing, dance and hum while you paint. Enjoy it, like you would wet on wet painting! I always have ONE spot where I make this mistake. I've just accepted it now.

I have a trick that might horrify some of you. I wear white cotton socks while I do the glazing and wipe up drips with my toes.

These walls are 6 coats. The room is very angular and cold so I wanted to soften the corners a bit so I did the walls in two sections with a wavy line between them. The top section is one layer magenta, two layers yellow, one layer magenta, one layer yellow, and a final layer of magenta. The bottom is 4 layers magenta, one layer yellow and the final coat of magenta

The After shot:

Next post: What to do with ugly stucco ceilings!


Carolyn said...

That looks *gorgeous*!
I've always wanted to have our playroom or Maia's room like that...but was always too lazy.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for such clear and simple step by step instructions, I have wanted to know what Lazure was for a long time, saw lots of lovely posts of walls, but no inkling of what was involved. You must be thrilled with the result! It looks fantastic.