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Bottle vs. Tube Acrylics
Painting with Acrylic Paint
Painting faces, eyes, teeth
Paint Organization
Painting on Polymer Clay
Thinning Acrylics


Acrylic Paint
I'm sure there are other painters that use acrylics, but this is what I do when I paint.

I use Ceramcoat acrylics, with some Americana, and I'm painting a trunk with JoSonya's tube acrylics. I don't like Plaid very well as it seems chalky to me and dry. These are my preferences. I also do Norwegian Rosemaling with oils, but that isn't the question here.

Yes, you can use water to thin. When I'm painting and I want it to be the best of course, the paint goes on in several layers with the last being mostly all paint. The first application is more of a wash, in that it is thinned 3 to 1 with water. The second is more paint, and the third is almost all paint. This gives me the best results for me. Others do it differently and others seem to manage with beautiful pieces with undiluted paint, too. I just don't happen to be one of them.

Wait until each layer is completely dry or you'll have a hole that is hard to cover.

I haven't painted too many doll faces, but I do know less is better. I would be using thinned washes of paint, letting each layer dry for the mouth and eyelids. But, I think my preference for a porcelain doll face would be chalks applied with a Q-tip in the same manner. Less is better until you've achieved the result you want. Were I painting a face on wood? I would be using spit and a dab of color, letting it bleed out and then applying more if it needed it.  This is just my way, but hope it helps.

Acrylic Paint
With so many people writing about painting faces today, I wanted to add that there is a very good acrylic paint made by Golden, which are Fluid Acrylics. These aren't as heavy and opaque as a lot of other acrylics. They should have them at Michael's, an art supply store, or at one of the many internet discount art supply stores.

Painting, Acrylic
My biggest problem is the eyes and as Gina says "the eyes have it" if you can do beautiful eyes then the rest is a piece of cake. I was painting the whites of the eye first, then dipping the bigger side of a stylus in some black paint and very gently dabbing that into the eye in the direction I wanted her to look. Then dipping the smaller side of the stylus into the color I wanted to use and very carefully try to center that into the black circle I had made. Using a very small brush, outline the whole eye from corner to corner.

Well you say that doesn't sound hard so far right? Well my doll kept looking at me through this thick paint and looked very ghoulish, it was scary LOL The good thing about using acrylic paint is that you can take off whatever you did over and over and I certainly did that!!!  Then I got an idea, I got a bottle of paint medium and poured a few
drops on the paper palette I was using and put a tiny amount on the brush and then mixed it with the color paint I was going to use.. What a difference! The paint was thinner, and it was easier to make those thin lines around her eyes. When the paint dried it didn't have that thick look.

I also painted nice full lips. I had a tendency to make my dolls lips too thin so I corrected that also.

When I was satisfied with what I did, and the paint was dry I painted gloss varnish on the lips and the eyes. Wow, she came alive and looks pretty. Don't think she looks like the pro's dolls because she doesn't but she is pretty good for me.

So basically what I discovered is that once that acrylic paint was thinned with medium everything went a little smoother for me and looked better too. You need to experiment with what size brushes work best for you.

Painting, Acrylics
When I work with the matter how tiny the surface, i.e. doll eyes or acrylic paint is diluted progressively. What I mean by that, is the first coat of paint that goes on, is diluted with water 3 to 1, almost a thin wash of paint. That dries, next coat is 2 to 1, and it dries.  The last coat is still not paint "from the bottle", but diluted just a little less than the second step. I almost never "paint from the bottle". To me, it is just too thick and impossible to get smooth applications, which is what you'd want for a doll face at least. It doesn't take that many extra seconds to do it this way. I have a spray bottle made from a cut down sprayer (the small ones), and an empty paint bottle filled with water, and it works quite nicely.

In reference to the Ott light...I LOVE mine and don't know how I did it. I'm trying to find a deal on the magnifier that fits on mine (it's a floor model). I don't feel the price is justified, so will bide my time.

Painting, Acrylic
An old painting tip we spit. Oh, don't say yuk!!! I'm serious. Just a drop of spit on the cheek and the very tip of the paint brush in the rosy color paint, and then "dab" that color into the spit until it starts to spread outward. The LEAVE IT ALONE until it dries. If you need to add more, do it after it dries. This is with acrylic paint, BTW. I use Ceramcoat, but Americana is nice, too.

I use acrylic/enamel paints and they are more permanent that acrylic paints.  The brand name is DecoArt Ultra Gloss. I find it in some of the local craft supply stores like Ben Franklin's. The enamel makes the color adhere better and form a stronger bond. If I only use acrylic paint, I repaint with a varnish, but this is a second step which can be avoided by using acrylic/enamel paints.
Nancy G.

Acrylic Painting
Acrylic question (sorry my area <G>) as you may know, that is all I exclusively paint with. I have tried china painting, and it just wasn't my style. But to each their own. As far as durability, I had my first doll ever made (see the 1st FF - FRILLS AND FANCY (online doll dressing newsletter) on my site, and since '89 her paint was in mint condition. Of course, to be fair I don't play with my dolls, and consider them pieces of art to be viewed only. So she was in a curio, or sealed room box most the time. If you want to remove your doll's clothing, I'll tell you right now that no matter how many coatings of acrylic sealer goes on, it WONT protect it well enough. If you do scrape off the face paint, its almost impossible to fix (in my opinion without having a haphazard look). So I just take a Q-tip, dip it in fingernail polish remover, and take off blush, paint, and sealer that is visible. Then simply repaint.

As far as painting goes, I like the soft colors of Aileen's Acrylic Paints. I have been experimenting with using the same shade lid and 'under' lid. Comes from my new painting Art class I'm taking <G>. This way you can get more of a realistic 3-D effect. Also, if you use acrylic paints (and to be fair don't know if you can do this with china painting) you can build up the pupil in the eye ball to resemble glass eyes. Sorry plug <G> I do offer an Acrylic Face Painting book for those interested. I even list colors for those that would like to have a beginning.

Eye’s “spark of life”. What I have done on my dolls (and in a few painting I did) is put just a tiny dot of white in the eye. I also make sure that the eyes are glossy. After I’m done with all the face painting (in acrylic), I spray a couple coats of a matte sealer on the doll head. After that is dry, I use a clear gloss enamel and put a touch on each eye and a little on the lips. They will look wet.

Basically any of the acrylic paints will work but you do need to put a sealer over them, otherwise they will wash off, scratch off, etc. quite easily. Most ceramic studios sell the clear mat sealer in spray cans. Several of the paint companies have heat set acrylics which are made for use on porcelain/glass which are more permanent than regular. Pebo and Liquitex are some of the brand names for heat set acrylics but there are lots of others. There are also some enamels for painting on glass/china which are not heat set. I have not experimented with the Genesis paints which stay wet until you hit them with a heat gun yet but they might work as well. You will not get the wonderful translucency, building up of color with acrylics that you get with china painting even if you use only the translucent acrylic colors...but if you don’t have a kiln, experiment with the acrylics which are available to you and choose the one that looks the most natural to your eye.

Thinning Acrylics
To thin acrylic paints instead of water I use a glazing medium. I usually use the paints by Aleene's, so use the enhancer/glazing medium that they make. This thins the paints, but doesn’t dilute the colors. I've used it on porcelain, and did several layers of color to give a more realistic look.

Tube VS. Bottle Acrylic Paint
The tube paints are marked "fine acrylic", so I think that they have more pigment?? That's just a guess.

But the tube paints are give better coverage (color density) and the colors are easier to blend than the bottle paints. The bottle paints are marked "for crafts" and the tube paints for actual canvas painting.....the little tubes are bit more expensive, but a little goes a long way.....

And I think the tubes store better....I have thrown away many bottles of acrylic craft paint when it "got old" and seemed to change texture. The biggest problem I have with the tubes is that paint builds up around the opening and I have to wipe it off...and I always seem to run out of white....But I'm still learning, so I could be totally off base.....Laurie?? Am I crazy???
Whui in Paris

Tube VS. Bottle Acrylic Paint
The difference between tube acrylics and the ones in the bottle are that the tube acrylics have a texture regardless of how much you thin them down. This is very frustrating when you're trying to paint something like eyes and just can't get a smooth blended look, and don't know why your stuff doesn't look as nice as other peoples' stuff!

Painting on Polymer
I use acrylics, too, but only for the features, such as eyes. To get blush in the cheeks and to hi-light contours of the skin, I use dry pastel, BEFORE the piece is baked. Dry (or chalk) pastels are available at your local art store. I first 'scribble' out some of the color onto a piece of paper, then use a dry paintbrush to dab and apply the pigment to the doll before it goes into the oven. It looks a bit garish until it's baked, but the colors soften beautifully as they're absorbed into the clay. You can also rub extra color onto the doll after it's baked, with these pastels. Good luck!
Diana in Canada

Painting on Polymer
You are looking for the Acrylic paints that come in the 2 oz. plastic bottles. They have a little Gesso mixed in so they have a non gloss or matte finish. Or you can mix a touch of Gesso into the paint you have.

Painting on Polymer
You cannot use China paint because China paint will not dry until after it's been fired.  Try using model car paint (such as Testors). It comes in both matte and gloss finish. Doesn't work well for cheeks but you can use regular blush on the cheeks prior to baking the piece and use the paint for eyes, lips etc.

Painting Polymer
When I took a sculpting class using Sculpey, we painted our dolls with thin wash of oil paints. Then we put them in the oven overnight to dry them. The oven light was left on, but the oven was not turned on. The heat from the light helped cure/dry the paint. You can do this several times adding more layers for dimension. I like this better than my experiments with the acrylic paints.
Hugs. Gabrielle

Painting Polymer
I don't mind using the acrylics on clay. I do however, coat them with two coats of Gesso first. It does seem to take an extra coat or two, but when finished they're okay.

Painting Polymer/ Drying Box
I think what we are saying here is that everyone finds their favorite method of painting and sticks to it because it works well for them. You have to do some experimentation to get to this point so try a little of everything and keep an open mind.

EXCEPT: Drying something in the oven is never a good idea. They get turned on  accidentally. My friend needed a drying box so we had her husband convert a wooden box into a box with a light bulb. She lives in a humid area and needed  a reliable way to dry her work. Yes, she loves it. Much safer.
Laurie Sisson

Painting on Polymer
I use FW Acrylic Artists ink. I get my from a Artist Supply store and they last forever. You can mix and add water. The faces on my dolls come out just beautiful. I also use Artist chalk to add shades and blush. They are just fabulous.
Hugs to you, Sherri D. (Houston, TX.)

Painting Polymer
I let the paint dry under a desk lamp, and that's it! Or if you want to seal it ? I would use a clear poly glaze, depending on the clay type. Hope this helps.
Hugs, Sherri D. ( Houston TX )

Painting on Polymer
A note about dry pastels: some people use their own make-up blush and it works for them, but I must buy the cheap stuff (!) because I noticed it had minute gold flecks in it, which were only noticeable once it had been brushed onto the clay. I also wondered about the durability of the color, because there are pastel pictures which are hundreds of years old and still beautiful, but make-up is made to last a day. Some art stores allow you to buy dry pastels one stick at a time, so your investment might be a dollar or two.
Diana in Canada

Polymer/ Makeup
The difference in flecks or not are whether the product is a shiny or matte product. Makeup made to shimmer has the gold flecks, while matte does not.
Karen c.

Painting on Polymer
Don't use China paint on your clay as china paint needs to be fired.

Maybe try acrylic paints that come in the tubes, my sister used tube acrylics on her sculpted cats and dogs. it worked fine.
Sylvia in Big D

Painting Faces
I got this hint from one of Dana's publications. She suggests to look at make up charts ,you know the ones that can be found in magazines or makeup counters. I think it's a great way to see how a face can be made to look different by simply using a different eye color or changing the shape of the brows etc. I find the simplest way for me to do it is by looking at an existing dolls face I like and try to copy it.

Painting Dolls Faces
There is a video called Sculpting Miniature Dolls I and II by Evelyn Lenz Flook. The #2 video teaches how to paint the faces in detail.
Cam. Brick, NJ

Painting Dolls Faces
A hint when painting dolls' faces is to view the face of the doll in a mirror, it gives you another prospective that will be of great help.
Hugs, Marilyn, Mi. MaParke2u

Painting Eyes
When painting eyes have the doll look in a mirror to see her reflection. If she doesn't fall over laughing then you have painted her right. LOL, actually it does work. It gives you a different perspective.

Painting & eyes
The first time I painted eyes with acrylic paints, I drew miniature faces with eyes only and practiced.
Sharon Booker

Painting eyes
When painting the eyes on a doll, if you do one eye and then turn the doll upside down and paint the other eye, you will get a better match. This works great when you are sculpting also.
Bev in Colo

Eyes and Teeth Painting
I use "Janette"s sparkle and Tooth paint for the whites in the eyes and on teeth if any. Using  just a plain white under glaze does not give you a background luster and I find that under glaze does not always smooth out like I like it.. Their are a couple of others on the market and they come in a small squeeze bottle just for teeth or say eyes. 
Ann K

I use a crow quill pen for some things and I like the regular cats tongue for the eyelashes and eyebrows. I keep the brush really pointy and just use the very tip of it.

Paint Colors to Use for Faces
hi Annie! for lips I usually custom mix the color that I want from apple barrel colors by plaid (the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart) I usually use a mixture of light pink and dusty mauve for lips and cheeks. more pink for fair skin or young girls, more mauve for darker complexions. for the cheeks I mix a shade lighter of the lip color with extender medium, then I apply it and wipe it off with a DRY paper towel (if you use a wet one it will just wash it off). I repeat this process a couple of times until it is the color and density I want. I have found that using the acrylics without the extender medium just makes it look like the lady put on really thick pancake makeup that morning! for the eyes I use a mixture of burnt umber and nutmeg brown for brown eyes and laguna and cobalt blue for blue eyes. Laguna is actually a green, but I don't like flat blue eyes. I frequently mix lavender or purple in with cobalt instead of the laguna. or Kelly green or... you get the picture. by mixing colors like this I can get a large variation in skin and eye color and only buy two or three bottles of paint. I usually use the nutmeg brown for eyebrows no matter the color of hair or skin. also you will need black for pupils and white for the light reflection in the eyes (absolutely necessary. otherwise eyes look dead.) and a matte varnish for after everything is dry so her face doesn't rub off while people are admiring her. hope this helps and good luck!
jaissa in Maryland

Extender Medium
hi Annie! yes, it's called extender medium. it causes the paint to be
transparent (like a water color) rather than opaque (like oils). I found mine right there with the other paints at Wal-Mart. I suppose that if they don't have it you might try a craft shop like Michael’s. ( I think that's the name) any place that carries paints for tole or decorative painting should have it. but don't use it for anything but the cheek color. you want the eyes to be opaque. in fact, I think someone has posted a tip about making the eyes appear three dimensional. maybe that will surface again now (HINT, HINT). the good news about all of this is that you only use a drop at a time of each of these colors. I can usually paint three dolls with two drops of paint if I'm quick enough that the drops don't dry out. so anything you buy will last you a very long time <G>. You're very welcome and don't sweat it. if you mess up the doll's face just wipe it all off with a wet paper towel and start again. it happens to me all the time.

Paint Organization
I've been practicing painting faces on blank dolls with acrylic paints (because I don't own a kiln for china paints) but like to mix my own colors.  Instead of mixing a lot of paint into a color I may not like, I mix some in an old film container. That way I can also seal it shut with the lid so it doesn't dry out in case I want to use it again later.

Paint Case
My son gave me a double contact lens case with little snap-off lids. I now keep this in my smallest tool kit. The small connected containers are perfect for keeping a bit of glue or paint in; usually it's all one needs for a club or round table project. Also, sometimes for round tables I take water in one, in case there isn't easy access during the workshops. The lids keep the contents from drying out and if there is leftover paint one wants to use at home, it's secure when the lid is fastened.
Wanna in El Paso



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