Monday, April 14, 2014

Painting a French Blue Picture Frame

A good way to practice your painting skills is to paint picture frames. You can pick up old timber frames (or even plastic or metal ones relatively cheaply at markets or ops shops. They are lovely to paint especially the ornate ones and are quick and easy and you end up with something very useful that you can either keep, give away or sell.

As with most things in life, practice will improve your skills especially if you are wanting to do more advanced painting techniques. Don't expect that the first time you pick up a paint brush to get a perfect finish or to be able to overcome the myriad of problems you find when painting vintage furniture. I'm not saying that your first piece may not be very lovely but i do know that the more you paint and practice your technique the finer your finishes will be.  I am always working on improving my skill levels. I still practice certain techniques on scraps of timber, I read endlessly about painting furniture, timber finishes and interior design and I experiment all the time with new products and processes. 

So next time you have a spare half an hour grab an old picture frame and some paints and practice your skills in painting in an antiqued French style.

This frame was gold initially and one of my lovely customers, Judy, asked for me to paint it in an ornate style with pale blue as the main colour.  I first primed the frame using Zinsser primer (if you are using chalk paint this step is optional) and then painted the frame with Autentico Provence (a lovely soft blue very similar to ASCP Louis Blue). Lisa from Autentico Australia provided me with a range of sample pots of Autentico Chalk Paint and I thought that this colour was perfect for the look that Judy was after.

Once the Provence was dry, I highlighted the details on the frame with white paint. To do this I used a flat edged artist's paintbrush (about 1cm wide), dipping the very edge into a tiny bit of paint and dry brushing it over the raised details. I didn't want the white paint getting into all the crevices so don't over load your brush. I find it easiest of hold my paint brush almost horizontal to the surface rather than at a high angle.

I also brushed some white onto the blue paint to give it added interest and a faded look.

The next step is to wax. Frames don't necessarily need waxing as they don't get touched much but because I wanted to achieve an antiqued effect, I initially applied clear wax followed by dark wax on the details. I applied with a small natural bristle artist brush and then wiped off with an old sheet cut into rags.

Judy loved it.

Here are some other frames I have painted.  The first one I did was to practice antique glazing. Frames are great for this because of all the ornate detail for the glaze to settle in. Details for how I achieved this look are here.

I also love turning vintage frames into chalkboard.  Everybody needs a chalkboard!  These frames below were all painted with ASCP Duck Egg Blue.

Happy painting 


  1. Very timely post, Fiona! I just finished 'practicing' the application of glaze on an ornate mirror. I must admit I did have a few "do overs"! :)

    1. That’s the beauty of paint isn’t it Robin, you can always paint over it! Hope you are going well, looking forward to seeing your frame
      Fiona x

  2. Wow it looks amazing! Well done! I have just been asked by a customer to give a silver frame a bronze look. Any suggestions?

    1. if you are in Australia, you could try Porters Paints - they have beautiful metallic finishes.
      good luck with it Jane,

  3. I usually always paint my frames white, but I may now just add a bit of colour. Love the blue and white, along with the dark waxing.

    Mary @ Orphans With Makeup

  4. I have been painting frames. Glad i found this post as I keep re painting.
    Off to salvos. Thank you for sharing techniques


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