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Spray paint art is a fairly new form of craft when you compare it to others, as it only became a legitimate art form in the 1980s. Ever since then, the art form has grown in popularity from smaller art pieces to spray designs on the side of buildings and walls. Many artists simply like to improvise and create whatever comes to mind, while others provide a professional service. Maybe you are just somebody who wants to make a unique gift. Whatever the situation, let us take a closer look at spray paint art.
Table of Contents
- 1 Taking a Closer Look at Spray Paint Art
- 2 What Is Needed for Spray Paint Art?
- 3 How to do Spray Paint Art
- 4 Spray Paint Art Techniques
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Taking a Closer Look at Spray Paint Art
In general, spray paint art is the use of aerosol spray cans to create art pieces. When thinking of spray art, it conjures up images of sprayed art on the side of a building or train car. This form of street spray painting art has become known as Graffiti and many have been arrested, as it is illegal to deface public property. Thankfully, today there are legal and designated areas, the aim of which is to decrease the random tagging and vandalism of public property. Also, many of the amazing legal public spray paint art pieces are great tourist attractions. When it comes to spray paint art, there are no real rules except to use spray paints in the process. So, spray paint can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including canvas. In most cases, spray paints have been used on posterboard, but they can be used on other non-porous surfaces like metal, glass, and plastic.
The first spray can was developed in the 1940s by a man named Ed Seymore who was a paint salesman. With some help from his wife, they created a spray can that was used to help demonstrate an aluminum paint Seymore had developed. This then became popular over the years and was used in the automobile and furnishing industries. Later, many are not sure exactly when and who, however, in the 1960s in America, graffiti became widely known because of a boy known as ‘Cornbread’ who tagged his name all around his hometown. In the 1980s, in Mexico City, another artist, known as Ruben Sadot Fernandez, shared his creations in public as an experiment, which then became quite popular. This type of art form, which is done in the streets in front of an audience, became known as aerosolgrafia. Over the years, spray paint gained popularity as a form of political expression in many cases.
However, spray paint art has grown and introduced more creative approaches and is even recognized today as a legitimate craft and art form. Remember, if you do street spray painting art, you might have to get permission, so make sure to find out before you do anything.
The Best Spray Paint Products
If you are a seasoned spray paint artist, you most probably already have your favorite spray products that you use. However, for the beginner, there might be a little confusion as to what spray paint is best to use. So, below are a few ideas to get you started.
The Best Choice Spray Paint: MONTANA BLACK
The Montana Black Spray Paint is a popular choice by many spray paint artists. The product offers a high-pressure design that can easily be used for street art and murals. The paint provides excellent coverage and dries quickly. The high-quality set of paints come in some of the more popular colors, including red, black, blue, yellow, and green. If you are looking to create street art and murals, this spray paint is specially formulated for this exact purpose.
The Most Popular Spray Paint: RUST-OLEUM
The Rust-Oleum Painters Touch is excellent for outdoor and indoor projects, however, you can also use these paints for spray paint art and graffiti. The paint offers excellent coverage and a durable coat. Sprays on evenly and provide a beautiful gloss finish. You can also get these in a metallic finish, which offers great quality and an ‘authentic’ look.
Best Choice Craft Spray Paint: KRYLON
The Krylon Short Cuts Spray Paint is a quick-drying enamel paint that is versatile and can be applied to quite a few different surfaces including craft foam, metal, paper, glass, plastic, wood, and more. The paint provides a smooth, even finish, is acid-free, and is archival-safe.
What Is Needed for Spray Paint Art?
Spray painting for beginners can start a little pricey, as you need quite a few items besides the paint to work with. But once you have the basics, it should be less expensive to keep going. Spray paint art is not just for the side of railway cars and buildings, you can express yourself using spray paint for both larger projects but also smaller art pieces. Either way, you will need a few supplies to get started. Here are things you will most likely need if you decide to begin this fun and rewarding art form.
Spray paint can be dangerous when inhaled, so wearing a respirator mask is essential. Since spraying paint causes an amount of over-spray, it might also get into your eyes, and wearing goggles can prevent this. Also, the paint might irritate the skin so wearing gloves or clothing that covers your arms and legs is a good idea.
Try to wear old clothes you do not mind getting dirty.
This is, of course, the most important item you need for spray paint art. You have a variety of brands and colors available. Some can be used indoors and outdoors and can be used on a variety of surfaces from wood to metal. In the beginning when spray painting canvas or other surfaces, it might be a good idea to start with spray paints that are created for craft projects, rather than choosing a spray paint aimed at industrial applications.
Take note when dealing with spray paints, you should be aware of the brands and finishes available. Each brand will have different formulas, so one paint color might not match another brand’s color tone. Each finish can also vary between brands, so always remember this when purchasing your spray paints. Make sure to find spray paints that complement each other.
Your Base of Choice
You will want to consider what base to work with, maybe spray painting canvas or posterboards? Street spray painting art usually uses the side of buildings and other surfaces outside the home. When it comes to spray painting for beginners, it is best to choose a more affordable option.
Posterboards are a popular choice as it is quite a thick and smooth board that works well with spray paints and you can usually buy in bulk.
Spray painting can be messy, even if you have lain some paper down for protection. Some paint could find itself on something where you do not want it. So, having some thinners nearby can help you clean up these little messes.
Old Magazines and Newspapers
These are great to use to add texture to your art and you can also use the newspaper to cover areas where you are working to prevent messes. Laying down a protective layer of newspaper can save you a lot of time once you are finished painting.
A glossy magazine can also help remove paint randomly to help provide texture.
Stencils and Other Tools
How to do spray paint art? Well, if you are not sure what to paint, stencils are always a great way to add detail and perfectly shaped images. You can get stencils in numbers, letters, and all kinds of different shapes.
So, you do not need to be an expert at drawing or painting to create the look you want. Masking tape can also be used to tape off areas or create designs. There are also many other tools you can use to create the effect you want.
- You can use a toothbrush, sponges, paintbrushes, or foam brushes
- Pallet knife
- Round objects like container lids or bowls to use as round stencil shapes. Make sure the rims are not too thick
- Socks, grocery bags, even your fingers, anything you think will create a unique texture
How to do Spray Paint Art
Your first step in creating your spray paint art is to have a picture in your head of what you want to do. Make sure you put in details like where certain things will go, for example, trees, water, or planets. The whole process involves layers and textures, you must figure out where you want to place your tools like the lids for effect. Getting the whole process right may take a little practice, as you need to lay paint objects that are in the foreground first.
Once you have figured out what you want to do, you can get all your supplies ready. If your chosen base is a wall, you will need to make sure you have permission to paint it. Otherwise, have your posterboard or canvas ready. One of the more popular themes is cosmic painting and you do not need any special training to produce some amazing planetary effects. Let us now take you through this spray paint tutorial, an easy, yet effective technique.
How to Spray Paint Art: Cosmic Spray Paint Tutorial
When starting a spray painting project, you will always need to make sure you work in a well-ventilated area. You will also need gloves, protective eye goggles, and a respirator mask. Also, cover any surfaces to protect from any messes.
What you will need:
- Spray paints, about five colors
- Posterboards (you will use the glossy side)
- Round container or lids, the sizes your planet will be (you can have more than one)
- Glossy magazine
Once you have covered the surface or table you are going to work on with some newspaper, you can tape your poster board to the surface. You can tape a small piece on each side of the board or can place a border all around the board. You should have everything else you will be using nearby. Before using each spray can always shake them to make sure the paint will come out smoothly.
Take your round selected items and place them on the board in the area you want them in. You can also use some round cardboard cutouts for this. It is just easier to lift off an empty round container. Remember, to shake your paint can before using it and then lightly spray around them to mark the spot.
When you lift them off, you will notice the clean round spots that were covered.
Next, you can then add colors as well as texture to the planets. The paint colors should go from a darker color to a lighter one. For example, yellow, green, blue then black. Working over the planet area, overlap each color, moving from left to right until the entire circular area has been covered. It does not matter if you go over the markings you made. You can go from light to dark or vice versa.
Once done with the spray paint, and while the paint is still wet, take a piece of glossy paper from a magazine and crumble it up or a plastic bag. Then open the paper up again and place it over the paint area. Run your fingers over the paper and then lift it off. You will notice texture has now been added and the planet is starting to take shape.
Follow the same process for all the planets you have marked off.
Take the round objects you used, to begin with, and recover the planet areas. You are now going to add the space and background details. Start spraying from one corner using darker colors like black and blue and then go lighter moving to orange and yellow, creating a lighting effect.
Now you can move onto smaller details like stars. You can spray quite a thick layer of white paint onto the edge of a piece of cardboard and then flick the back of the strip of cardboard, which will then spray the paint onto your art piece. You can also try and use a toothbrush or other type of brush for this effect. Create a comet-like effect by simply placing the can upside down onto the nozzle, pushing quickly, and spraying in the direction you want.
The spray effect will be the tale of the comet.
Spray Painting Canvas and Using Stencils
How to spray paint art when using canvas? Painting on canvas with spray paints has become popular, as it is something quick and easy you can do to create amazing art pieces. This is especially true if you use stencils to paint with. The stencils are simply placed over the canvas and the spray paint is then applied. Once the stencil is removed, the shape or image remains behind. Stencils come in all different shapes and sizes and they can be purchased at a store or you can make your own. Certain objects, for example, round lids or containers as mentioned in the above tutorial for the cosmic paint idea. Some stencils are extremely basic, while others have more details to them, it all depends on what you are looking for. When making your own stencil, do not use normal print paper as this is too thin.
When spraying, the paint might seep through onto an area you do not want any paint. So, rather use thicker cardboard or posterboard for this purpose, something that is non-porous. Something you can also use as a stencil is some tape. Lay down the tape in the pattern you want, spray, then slowly pull the tape away once you have waited a minute or two after spraying. Let us check out the basics of how to use spray paint with a stencil on canvas. You can also use items like leaves or branches as a stencil to create beautiful natural art pieces
What you will need for a leaf stencil spray painted on canvas:
- Acrylic paint and brush
- Spray Paint: contrasting color to your base acrylic paint
- Protective gear, goggles, gloves, and mask
To get the best results for painting on canvas, you should prime the surface for about 24 hours before painting using gesso. You can also purchase pre-primed canvases; however, these are more expensive.
Prepare your work area, lay down your newspaper or cardboard to protect the surrounding area you are going to work in. Place the canvas on top and paint the base color over the entire canvas, for example, use a green color you prefer but you can use any color.
Let this dry.
Place your leaf onto some old newspaper and spray with a little repositionable spray adhesive. Then take the leaf and place it onto the canvas, spray side down to make sure the leaf remains in place.
Take your spray paint, which is a contrasting color to your base paint. For example, we have blue as your base paint, so think about a gray, tan, or white color. Spray this over the canvas and the leaf.
You only want one layer of paint, as you still want the base color to show through slightly.
Let it dry slightly but not completely before carefully removing the leaf stencil. Allow this to then dry completely for at least 24 hours. You can add a clear topcoat or varnish sealer if you wish before displaying your art piece.
Spray Paint Art Techniques
Any art form requires a bit of practice and experimentation to create unique art pieces. The first thing to do when spray painting, is practice until you feel comfortable using the spray cans. You do not only have to stick to using paint exclusively when creating a piece, but also try incorporating other elements like foil, or magazines to create texture and dimension. You can also use a paintbrush, sponge, or toothbrush while the paint is wet to add more effects. If you are going to do any of these special effects, make sure you have your design and idea all worked out beforehand, as the paint dries quickly, and you do not want to hesitate too much while you are busy.
The one important rule when spray painting, is to stand back while you spray. Any close-up spraying will only provide less control and the application becomes wetter. The paint could then run, and you will land up with an uneven application. Let each layer you apply first dry before moving onto the next layer and always wear protective gear. How to use spray paint? Below are a few more spray paint art techniques and tips.
- Always shake the paint cans before painting.
- The temperature could influence the thickness and condition of the paint. The best weather would be cool when painting.
- First, test your spray paint on a piece of spare newspaper.
- When applying layers, allow each coat to dry before painting on the next one. Spray paint dries quickly, so this should not be a problem. If you paint over a wet coat, it may create bubbles
- You can use the caps from the spray cans to create round shapes.
- You can use traditional spray paint; however, the specific art spray paints offer different tips, giving you more control over what you want to create.
- When spray painting, the closer you spray, the thicker the coat and the smaller the reach of the paint. Spraying further away will create thinner layers and provide broader coverage
You can play around with different textures and colors, and you can use various tools or items to see what unique affects you can create. Try using mesh or fabric and other colors to make your spray paint art more unique. You can also decide on different paint finishes like gloss or matte. Wait at least a day for the painting to dry. If you painted on canvas, you could also frame your work for display.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Possible to Spray Paint Paper?
You can use paper, as long as it is thick, otherwise, the paint will seep through and make the paper warp. Glossy posterboard will provide a nice shine and painting on canvas will give you more of a matte finish.
Is a Sealant Needed Over a Surface That Has Been Sprayed?
It is not necessary, but to preserve and protect your art piece from moisture, dust, and light, a gloss or matte varnish can be applied.
Is There an Age Limit for Purchasing Spray Paint in the US?
Yes, in most of the US States, you need to be over 18 to purchase spray paint. This is to curb the use of spray paint for graffiti and also to reduce the abuse of using the spray paint for inhalation. Those selling the spray paint can ask for identification to prove the buyer is over 18.
Should I use Spray Paint That Also has a Primer?
You can use a primer and spray paint; however, you will land up with dull colors. Spray paints without any primer, tend to have more vibrant colors.
Are there Different Types of Spray Paint?
Spray paints can be formulated for different purposes, some may be for industrial applications, while others are more for arts and crafts. Today, you can also get spray paints that come in many colors and finishes. Most spray paints are oil-based, there are also acrylic-based spray paints and water-based options, although these might be more difficult to get, and they tend to be more expensive. Many of the spray paints that are for creative purposes are also available in sets.