Friday, August 24, 2012

Painted Table - Harlequin and Roses

I mentioned before that I had been working on painting a table for my kitchen. It is an old table that my sister and I have swapped back and forth for many years. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of the table before painting it black. In it's last incarnation, it was painted mint green and dry-brushed in white.

When I got it, it had been sitting in my sister's barn for quite a while. It was quite dirty, and had a variety of paint blotches (my fault, I believe . . . I used it in my craft room for a while), along with nail polish, and a few dirt dauber nests!

My first step was to wash it down, and then I sanded it with a rotary sander. I wanted to remove the varnish, the blobs of paint and polish, and give the piece sufficient "tooth" so that the paint would stick.

I then used black spray paint on it to cover the entire surface. And then . . . I did nothing for about three weeks! After I got the table painted, I realized that my original design plan to use a gloss varnish to paint a design over the matte black table was not a good idea. Matte painted surfaces are notoriously difficult to clean.

So . . . it took me three weeks to figure out what to do next! Ultimately, I decided to do a harlequin design (the harlequin element is on several pieces in my kitchen.)  The only problem with that idea was that I am HORRIBLE with all things number related. I have a form of number dyslexia, and I knew that I'd never be able to lay out the design on a round surface. After some thought, I came up with the following idea - which you will either thing is brilliant, or incredibly stupid . . . depending on your own comfort level with math!

I measured the table and found that it was 35" across. I went into Photoshop and created a diamond that was 5" across, so I'd be able to lay out the first line across the table. Below is the template I created. I printed out a whole bunch of these on card stock, and then cut them out.

The next step was to lay them out on the table, using double sided tape. I  knew I was using this for a guideline, so I didn't worry about gluing them down perfectly. From experience, I knew I wouldn't be happy with the design if it was all spray painted, so the purpose of this was simply to give me the layout.

Once all the pieces had been glued down, I spray painted over the card stock and table with white spray paint. It is often breezy in Oklahoma, and as a result, the card pieces lifted here and there. It resulted in overspray between some of the diamonds. I wasn't worried about this as I knew I'd be painting over it. I choose to use DecoArt Patio Paint in black and white because it is very durable, and the colors are very opaque. 

Using a 1" flat brush, I then went in and filled in all of the white squares. Note; if I had planned this from the beginning, I would have sprayed the table white first. It is MUCH easier to cover white with black than visa versa. Even with the opaque paint, it took three layers of paint on each diamond to get adequate coverage over the white diamonds. 

A couple of tips for painting . . . You will want to paint the edge of the piece first. Because I was using a flat brush, I simple used the tips of the bristles to get a clean line along the edge, and then I filled in the center. 

You don't want to paint all around the diamond and then fill it in, because you are more likely to lay your hand in it. When the diamond is this large, line a side, then fill in towards the center, then line another side and repeat, until it is all filled in.

The trick to getting a good line is to not use very much downward pressure as you paint, so the bristles stay then at the tip. (Note the paint on my fingernail and hand. Yes, I am a messy painter!)

I wanted to show you my brush - notice that the paint doesn't come all the way up to the ferrule (metal part that holds the bristles in place.) You want to keep the paint toward the end of the bristles. Allowing paint to get too close to the ferrule will ultimately cause the bristles of your brush to splay because you won't be able to wash the paint if it gets too high up in the bristles.

This is after two coats of white paint. You can see that you can definitely still see black coming through the white painted diamonds at this point.

After painting all the white, I then went in an cleaned up the black squares (where the white paint and oversprayed), and cleaned up the lines.

The next step was to add the roses. I chose a red, and a bright pink, and I alternated rose colors around the table by just starting with a rough circle. Flowers are not exactly round, so you don't have to worry about it being perfect. In fact, if it is too perfect, it will look like a decal rather than hand-painted. 

This shows the spacing I used, alternating colors. Each "rose" took two coats to be sufficiently opaque that the diamonds behind the flowers weren't distracting. I painted these with the same 1" flat brush that I used on the diamonds.

Next, using a #14 Round brush to paint in leaves and a vine between the flowers.

Next, using the same Round brush, I began to add the detail to the roses, and then the leaves.

You can see in the next two pictures what the detail looks like - you want to paint a wavy spiral starting at the center of the flower and working your way towards the outside.

Don't worry about perfection. I tried to vary the direction of the spiral from rose to rose so that they didn't look identical.

The next step was to add strokes of lighter green to the leaves, and then to go in with a 10/0 liner brush (this takes a little practice to use, but once you learn to control it, you will love it!) to add another layer of swirls to the flowers, and to line the leaves, and add a few random swirls around the flowers. 

All of this detail was added using White paint watered down and the 10/0 Liner brush.

As you can see, this is a very loose swirl that goes around the roses, and then traces the outside of the leaves.

I also added dots to the center of the diamonds, and a line along one side of each diamond using teal. My kitchen colors are black/white/red and teal.

The entire project took about 2.5 hours. The most time consuming part as filling in the white diamonds, but I think the work was worth it!

I have some new diner chairs coming to use with the table, and then I will be doing a gallery wall next to the table . . . so keep watch for the big reveal of my breakfast nook, soon!

This project is featured at: 

I'm sharing this project at the following sites:

shabby creek cottage

The Shabby Nest

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Days of Chalk and Chocolate


  1. Very cool! The roses almost seem to float above the black and white. I have started project too that have kind of stopped me in my tracks for a bit, so I know what you mean. I'm glad you finished it! It looks great!

  2. Very nice! you did such awesome job dear :)

  3. Wow, that is beautiful! So much work but so worth it!

  4. I love this table, what a great job!

  5. This is beautiful! I love how it turned out! Thanks for sharing at the Pomp Party! Pinning to our Pomp Party board!

  6. I can appreciate the work that went into altering this table! The end results are Gorgeous! Well Done!

  7. Fabulous table! Your roses are really amazing. Thanks so much for linking up at I Gotta Create! <3 Christina

  8. Bold and beautiful! Your roses are amazing. Thanks so much for linking up at I Gotta Create! <3 Christina

  9. Wow, that's a great looking table!!! Love it! Liz

  10. I like what you've done - great tutorial ~

    Popped in from YWW.

  11. You're a STAR at I Gotta Create! Featuring you:

    Thanks so much for linking up!
    <3 Christina

  12. Really beautiful job. The artwork is gorgeous! I did a harlequin desk (took hours!!) but I used a ruler and pencil to lay them out, then taped off the opposing diamonds to paint. Didn't have to worry about bleedthrough. It's still a ton of work no matter which method you use!

  13. Great tutorial! The table looks great! I paint furniture and although you make it look isn't! Lol Great job and very easy directions for anyone wanting to give their table a new look!

  14. **Thank you for a thorough tutorial! I'm gonna try your roses on a bar stool im working on. I've been struggling w/my leaves/vines for days! 2.5hrs? WoW >Jealous< (Im a SAHM of 3) so I only get to paint in my 'spare' time..AKA-When I choose painting over Sleep!LOL ;) Your technique is beautifully effortless <3 Love! <3

  15. **Thank you for a thorough tutorial! I'm gonna try your roses on a bar stool im working on. I've been struggling w/my leaves/vines for days! 2.5hrs? WoW >Jealous< (Im a SAHM of 3) so I only get to paint in my 'spare' time..AKA-When I choose painting over Sleep!LOL ;) Your technique is beautifully effortless <3 Love! <3


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