Daubing Paint Technique

Definition: To Spread Something Roughly Or Unevenly Onto A Surface

The Simplest of All The Decorative Paint Techniques * Paint Daubing *

Paint Daubing

Daubing is one of the easiest and most effective decorative paint techniques you can do. This painted finish is accomplished by applying one or more layers of color onto your garden art object.

For example, you can “age” an item simply by daubing on a watered down dark brown or dark green-brown paint blend. Or, as with the example I have pictured here, you can build up two or more layers of color. It all depends on how detailed the technique needs to be and/or what you want the final effect to look like.

Daubing is simple, no matter how many colors you decide to work with. This decorative paint technique repeatedly gives me excellent results.

In most how-to guides, you will see the following materials suggested for use as daubing applicators: a wadded up rag, a sea sponge, a crumpled plastic grocery bag, or crumpled brown paper. Yes, there are some differences in the final look between “this daub” and “that daub” of these various applicators. These distinctions might be important if you’re daub painting interior walls.

My Favorite Daubing Applicator

For this decorative paint technique, my daubing applicator of choice is an angled-bristle paint brush. It’s comfortable in my hand, holds watered down paint quite well, and “smooshes” paint into crevices effectively.

Why angled-bristles? I’ve found it makes it a little easier on my wrist. If you only have a flat bristle brush, it’ll work just fine, too. But I suggest you get yourself an angled-bristle brush or two when you’re able. Medium quality brushes will do.

If you’d rather, use a different applicator. But, by using a brush, you keep your hands out of constant direct contact with the paint (how many of us really wear disposable gloves when we’re working with paint??) and you can fill in cracks and crevices much faster with a brush.

**Keep in mind that you can use different applicators to apply individual layers of paint when you’re multi-layering colors. The varied textures of the applicators can give a different finished look to your painted object. Have fun and experiment.

Why Am I So Crazy About Paint Daubing?

There are many decorative paint techniques that produce beautiful results, but I use daubing almost exclusively on the garden art objects I paint. I’ve mentioned it throughout my website — I am NOT an artist. I do have a bit of creative ability, that’s all! So, I can daub and “smoosh” the paint to my heart’s content and achieve fantastic results with this technique.

Daubbing Decorative Paint techniqueHere is a good example of one of my planting containers that I brush daubed. Only four layers of color were applied. I used one color for the bottom and top layers; one color for the middle layer; and to add depth and interest to the container, I applied gold paint for shimmery highlights over all of the raised grapevine accent going around the container’s middle section and on the leaves around the rim.

This was all so simple. I know you’ll be using this “easiest of all the decorative paint techniques” time and time again. I sure do. 🙂

Tips for Daub Painting Projects

  • I use acrylic craft paints.
  • I always dampen the brush bristles with water. I don’t do this decorative paint technique with dry bristles.
  • I apply the daub technique to the inside of planters. I paint at least 3-inches down from the lip. It’s much more attractive to see the decorative paint technique carried over to the inside.

Let’s Begin The Daubing Project

Follow My Steps And You Will Be Successful With Your First Project!

To Learn How To Daub, I’ll Walk You Through The Steps I Took To Paint This Planter

Project Colors:

  • Bottom layer & top layer color: I blended terra cotta with a small amount of medium brown and a few drops of red to get a color that appealed to me.
  • Middle layer color: This layer was a watered-down dark brown. By making the paint a color wash it toned down the bottom color and helped give the container an aged look.
  • Gold highlights: Gold paints can range from true “gold” golds to “greenish” golds. I used a “gold” gold.
  • My container was a foam-type (called polyurethane) and was already painted pale beige — so I didn’t need to prep it with a neutral colored base coat.

Project Steps:

Hand Painted Daubing Technique

  1. Using the gold paint, I painted all surfaces and crevices of the leaves and grapevines. Also a little of the area around these. I painted on a good coat of gold, because I wanted some of this color to be visible after the other color layers were applied.
  2. Using the terra cotta blend, I started at the bottom of the pot and daubed upwards, diagonally. Just like the photo illustration. (When I daub, I move my hand quickly up the side of the pot, not pushing very hard on the brush as I apply the paint.)
  3. I covered approximately 85% of the surface with this first layer, letting a little of the base coat show through. (In this case, the pale beige color.) This helped add a subtle mottled effect that added depth to the final decorative paint finish. Note: I tend to go around a container a few times as I daub each layer of color. I do this as I’d rather apply the paint more on the sparse side than on the too heavy side. It’s easier to add more paint than it is to try and remove it!
  4. After the first color had dried a little, I then daubed on the watered down dark brown. I applied this color a bit more randomly to allow a lot of the terra cotta color to show through. I did not cover every inch of surface … I was merely trying to achieve a toning down of the terra cotta color.
  5. I let this layer dry a bit and then very sparsely, daubed on the terra cotta color, here and there. This added a little more depth to the over-all coloration.
  6. As I applied each layer of color, I made sure that there were places where I did not daub over the gold — remember, this gold color was used for shimmery highlights. You want some to show through.

There, That Wasn’t Very Complicated, Was It?

Think about all the interesting color combinations you can achieve with daubing. Whether it’s a quick pick-me-up of one color or a total repainting with many layered colors, you can be very successful in turning any ordinary store-bought object into something that is totally unique.

Experiment with color combinations. That’s what I do. Remember – you can always start over any project by applying a new base coat. Have fun!

Final Steps

Stand Back and Take A Good Look

Here’s some suggestions to do when you’ve finished any daubing project:

Give your garden accessory a really good once over. How does the over-all painted finish look?

It’s easier to make touch-ups now, rather than later: This is the time for daubing on a little more of one or the other colors you’ve been using if you’re not satisfied with how a specific area looks. I’ll often do this. You’ve still got your paints available and your brushes haven’t been cleaned yet.

Let your item dry thoroughly. I give it a day or two. Then, apply at least 2-coats of a clear acrylic or urethane finish. I use a spray paint for this step. I’ll let the clear coats dry another couple of days.

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