How To Paint Woodcarvings

How To Paint Woodcarvings
April 12, 2017 Dennis Moor
Hockey Caricature Painted

This Blog is about How To Paint Woodcarvings using an acrylic paint that has been watered down.  This method is often called a “washed” painting and is quite easy to do.

There are several different methods and ways to finish a woodcarving.   We plan to cover others (like staining) in a later Blog.

Step-by-step Painting – How To Paint Woodcarvings:

Once your carving has been completed, make sure you preform a thorough cleanup.  If the carving is dirty from handling it’s a good idea to wash it.  Use tap water and spray on an all purpose cleaner (Simply Green is a good one.)  Scrub it with a small nylon brush such as your spouse’s toothbrush.  Rinse thoroughly and let dry.  If the carving is really small you may want to consider screwing it to a “painting stick”.  A painting stick is simply a dowel (1/2″ or larger) with a screw mounted on its end with the point sticking up.

  1.  Apply a liberal coat of linseed oil and mineral spirits thinned to 50 / 50.  After sitting for a few minutes wipe of the excess and then allow to dry overnight.
  2.  Paint with an acrylic wash.  Some carvers use a window cleaner (like Windex) to thin the acrylic paint instead of tap water.  Using the glass cleaner makes the paint flow evenly and doesn’t raise the grain of the wood.  By the way, this glass cleaner and water mixture is great for cleaning your paint brushes.  Try using 1 part paint to 7 parts water/mixture first and add more paint if you find it too thin.
  3.  This paint wash should be thin enough to let any grain in the wood show through.
  4. Don’t be afraid to choose imagination in your choice of colors.  Mixing your own colors is another choice.  Read more below!
  5. Let it sit and make sure the carving is thoroughly dry.
  6. Boiled linseed oil makes a good sealer sealer.  Apply it with a brush and let it sit for 10 minutes then wipe it off with a paper towel.

IMPORTANT:
Linseed oil is flammable and can combust.   Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for disposing of paper towels,  rags, etc.

Water-based acrylic paint

Jo Sonja Acrylic Paint

JoSonja makes a great acrylic water-based paint and we have an extensive selection of colors.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Painting Tips:

  • Always start mixing with the lightest color first, and add darker colors in small amounts. The darker color is more prominent and therefore it doesn’t take very much in a mix.
  • Try mixing the colors on a small piece of aluminum foil as there is no cleanup.
  • Use an eyedropper to add the water to your paint.
  • Test the paint mixture by painting on newspaper. The printing should be visible through the paint wash.
  • Score the wood lightly between colors to keep them separate.
  • Paint lighter colors first and darker colors will cover over the lighter paint.
  • Paste wax also makes a good final sealer.

Comments (11)

  1. Author
    Dennis Moor 1 year ago

    Hi Amy: And therein lies the problem: you hit the nail on the head when you said ” drying without trapping moisture or having paint failure.”

    Boy, I don’t know how you can solve that problem. Wish I had experience I could share with you.

  2. Madison 12 months ago

    Hi! Great information. Exactly what I was looking for! I have a quick question. You mention the boiled linseed oil being a good sealer sealer. Does this mean that I can use it as a sealant after I paint with acrylics? As an option other than paste wax? Can you tell me what the difference would be between the two?

    • Author
      Dennis Moor 12 months ago

      Sorry Madison …. as a sealer it is meant to be applied to seal the wood before any painting is done. However, you might want to try a test on a scrap piece of wood.

  3. William Heath 11 months ago

    looking for painting instructions for deer, bear, horse and German shepard do uo have any?

    • Author
      Dennis Moor 11 months ago

      Hi William: We do not have specific instructions available individually. We sell a large variety of carving instruction and pattern books. They generally offer painting instructions for the particular topic included within the book itself.

  4. ray 11 months ago

    how do you get the teeth white on your carvings

  5. Wayne Sitzer 6 months ago

    dennis! i’m relief carving an outdoor sign (basswood) and would like some info on a painted finish, your procedure calls for linseed oil and mineral spirits , boiled linseed oil? ,and with this method what top coat should be used?
    appreciate your help, wayne

    • Cindy 4 months ago

      Hmmm … I don’t have much cause to use it any longer as I haven’t done a project for outdoors for quite some time. However, I went to Google and there are many places that sell it (including Home Depot). There is also an answer feature entitled: What is a good substitute for linseed oil? Have a look …there’s lots of information.

  6. Brian 6 months ago

    It seems that the stores that used to sell mineral spirits and linseed oil in winnipeg Canada don’t sell it anymore. Is there another product I can use in place of the mix I’d linseed oil and mineral spirits for presenting a wood carving before I use my acrylic paints..

    • Cindy 4 months ago

      Hey Brian: See response below … same question the day before. Here was my answer: Hmmm … I don’t have much cause to use it any longer as I haven’t done a project for outdoors for quite some time. However, I went to Google and there are many places that sell it (including Home Depot). There is also an answer feature entitled: What is a good substitute for linseed oil? Have a look …there’s lots of information.

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