Mother Earth Living

Try This: Playing With Paint

Here’s a nothing-to-it painting technique that yields gorgeous results.
By Susan Wasinger
May/June 2007
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This alluring wall's glossy surface reflects light, and the flat finish absorbs it, giving the illusion that the paints are two different colors.
Photo By Susan Wasinger

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Instead of creating pattern with color, create it with reflection. Use a single shade of low-VOC paint, in both flat and high gloss, to exploit the dramatic differences in how light reflects off the surfaces. Wide, alternating, horizontal stripes make a contemporary statement that’s subtle in some lights, dazzling in others. For maximum impact with this painting effect, choose a wall that has a strong spill of low-angled light.

1. Paint a smooth-surface wall with flat-finish wall paint (we used Olympic’s zero-VOC interior latex, available from Lowe’s). Let dry completely. Measure wide stripes with a yardstick or level and mark lightly with a pencil. The stripes shown here are 7 inches wide.

2. Use masking tape to tape off the lines. Press the tape lightly in place, then run your finger once more along the edge to be painted, pressing more firmly this time. This will make the painted edge clean without leaks, while ensuring the tape is easy to remove from the wall after the painting is complete.

3. Paint the alternating bands with high-gloss wall paint in the same color as before. Go completely from edge to edge, working horizontally to avoid forcing paint under the tape. Use long, even strokes for a smooth finish. A paint roller—narrower than the stripe—could also work. For best results, remove tape promptly, before the paint dries.

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