I promised a friend to paint her a turquoise clydesdale horse head magnet, easy-peasy right? I thought for sure the internet would have a bevy of articles on how to paint something to make it look like it was carved from turquoise. But apparently I’m the only one that’s trying this brand of madness.
So a grabbed a spare cat magnet cast and here’s a tutorial on how to create a faux turquoise paint job using acrylic paints!
Short version: I’m using acrylics to paint a replica of a Battle Mountain, Blue Gem turquoise. As always click on the pics to embiggen and if you have any questions, just ask in the comments below. 🙂
1. Reference Photos
The first thing you need is a bunch of examples of the type of stone you want to paint. The fun thing about turquoise is that there are a few bazillion different variations. To be honest all this research has left me wanting to paint one of each! 😉
I’m going to be trying to replicate the look of Blue Gem turquoise which has spiderweb matrix of golden brown. It looks like Battle Mountain mine was the primary source of the stones I like the look of best. (Although the Fox mine has slightly paler stuff along the same theme in a greener shade.)
2. Matching Paint Colors
This is where a test pad comes in handy! You can see in the photos I used it to experiment with color mixing and how the brown was going to look as a matrix. If I was a bit smarter I would have moved all of this over into my art notebook, but I love the feel of the little disposables. (Even if the pages do tend to fall out.)
Because it was the obvious choice, I started out with Apple Barrel 20210 Turquoise. This was a little too dark, compared to my reference photos. I tried lightening it some with white Liquitex Gesso, but the shade was still a smidge off.
Add in a bit of Apple Barrel 20223 Pool Blue and we’ve finally got a color I’m happy with! 🙂
For the spiderwebbing, I’m going to be using Folk Art 2570 Chocolate Brown (Metallic). The color is a little more gold than brown in some of the photos, but the gold that I have is horrible at not being transparent.
To make the spiderwebbing pull on that gold tint that I was looking for, I am going to use just a touch of Ceramcoat Metallic 14k Gold to highlight things.
3. Let the Painting BEGIN!
As I mentioned above, I started out with a nice solid basecoat of Apple Barrel 20210 Turquoise. I worked up from this color instead of re-priming because the undercoat adds some nice depth to the shading (much like the layers of brown do on the horses).
When I started the next coat using the mixture of three colors, I was very careful not to paint it as one solid color. If you look at the example pictures, the rocks I’m trying to emulate have some subtle color shifts in them. With luck my own random muddling will approximate this chaos.
Once that was done I sealed it up with a layer of brush on Liquitex Gloss Varnish. This will help add depth to the layers as I add them and also give me the bonus of being able to wipe off any spiderwebbing that doesn’t come out quite right!
Looking at the various reference photos, the spiderwebbing in the rock is sort of like appaloosa spots, although they aren’t round. I wasn’t quite sure what method I wanted to use, so I ended up making one end of the cat with heavier markings than the other. This let me play around a bit with techniques.
The first layer of spiderwebbing was the heavy base elements or the matrix. I did these in spotting motion, rather than a stroke as I was trying to match up with one specific rock. Looking back at things, it might have been a better idea to use small thin strokes instead.
The next layer of the brown was diluted heavily with water, so the resulting marks were very faint. The lighter wash mimics the striations that can almost be seen through the turquoise. I used a mix about the consistency of skim milk and then layered it very lightly, waiting for it to dry before coming in to darken some areas.
My goal was to break up the turquoise into distinct chunks on the one side. I liked the way this turned out and almost did the entire cat this way… but I wanted room to play around. Next time! 😉
I also used a bit of the Pool Blue to add a faintly lighter center to some of the ‘spots’. This gives them a little more depth and adds to the illusion that we’ve got a semi-translucent blue nodules.
I was adding in gloss layers every few changes, and I really like the depth it adds when the markings are slightly off between the layers.
As awesome as the cat looked at this point, it just wasn’t quite right… so I went back and added highlights of Ceramcoat Metallic 14k Gold to the matrix. It’s hard to show how much this makes the piece seem to shine, at some point I’ll have to go back and take some videos.
After that it’s just tiny tweaks, gloss layers and tiny tweaks. At the end you have a pretty awesome little faux blue gem turquoise cat! 😀
Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
As all of my how-to articles are wont to do, the experimentation continues on after the first piece is done. I’m continuing to play around with how to best capture the shading in the turquoise and as I come up with new methods I’ll make sure to do some follow-up posts! (You can see I’m messing around with a ‘paint shaded blobs’ method with the dolphin.)
So remember, all of these blog posts are just starting places– start some experimenting of your own and let me know what you come up with! 😀