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I found this lithograph called “Romantic Rome” by Ernst F. KARGER (1902-1968) in a thrift store a couple of years ago. I was immediately drawn to the blues and greens of the pretty scenery. Although gold is coming back in style, I really wasn’t a fan of the frame.
I purchased the picture anyway. After all it would be easy to change the frame at some point in time. Since then it’s been hung, and stored, and then hung back up once again.
I found that I liked the picture…but I didn’t like it.
The gold picture frame looks pretty bold in these pictures but it was actually a light shade of gold and it didn’t provided enough contrast (for me) with the light wall color.
So I painted it, of course.
But forgot to take pictures while doing it…
However, I believe this is still the perfect project to teach you the thinking process behind picking out the details that need to be painted and the details that should be left as is. I’ll also share the tips and products I used to make those little details look like they have been painted by a professional.
I used this same technique when I painted my antique china cabinet. As you can see, the details on the bottom portion of the china cabinet were lost.
But with a little paint those details came alive.
Now I’m going to walk you through painting a two tone color scheme on a detailed picture frame for a professional designer look.
Painting a Two Tone Color Scheme on a Detailed Picture Frame
To begin with you should gently clean the picture frame to remove dust and any oily build up from furniture polish. Make sure you don’t get any cleaning solvent on your picture!
- I used denatured alcohol and a lint free cloth.
Before getting started take a moment to check out the details of the picture frame.
- Does your picture frame have an outer and inner border like mine (the parts I left gold) that you could leave the original color?
- Would it look better to paint those borders instead of leaving them original?
- Do you need to paint the side of the frame to enhance the look of the outer border or should it be left the original color?
Separating Out the Details on the Picture Frame
Let’s take a look at the original frame again. So far we’ve determined if the outer and inner border could be left as is and if the sides of the picture frame should be painted a different color to make the outer border on the front of the frame stand out more.
If you’re working with a frame like mine that’s one solid color, you’ll need to examine it closely to determine how you want to paint the details–which areas to “highlight”, which areas to leave alone, which areas that need to provide some subtle contrast.
Forming the Mental Picture of How to Paint the Details on your Picture Frame
Don’t worry if you can’t “see” the details to begin with. Once you start adding paint, the details on your picture frame (or piece of furniture) will start popping out. And remember, it’s only paint and you can change it if you don’t like it.
- Can you visualize how you want to paint the two tone details?
- Do you know if you want the darker color to be used on the more pronounced areas to really highlight that feature?
- Would the darker color look better on the flat surface where it would be more subtle?
I have to admit that sometimes I don’t know these things until I get started. I hadn’t planned on leaving any of the stained areas on my china cabinet until I started painting with the navy blue paint and then I loved how the two colors complemented each other so I quickly changed my color scheme.
The same thing happened with the picture frame. I had started out thinking it would be one solid color; however, as I started painting the frame, details started popping out at me.
“Oh look! Here’s a border that you had overlooked. The gold is a nice contrast with the dark grey. It adds another dimension of depth.”
- Instead of willy nilly slapping the paint on a picture frame or a piece of furniture, I recommend going about it in a more methodical manner to see if you can’t tease out some of those hidden details.
Since I had already got some paint on the border by this point, I wiped off as much as could before it dried further.
- Denatured alcohol can be used on a soft, lint free cloth or Q tip to remove dried paint. Always use gentle pressure and test on a hidden area if possible to make sure it doesn’t discolor the original finish.
The Easy Way to Painting a Two Tone Color Scheme on a Detailed Picture Frame
So are you ready to learn how to make clean lines when painting a two tone color scheme? I’m sure there are many different ways to go about it, but this method works for me and I use it more often than not.
After determining I was going to leave the gold borders, I then painted the entire area between the inner and outer border a light grey. I always do 2-3 light coats until I get good coverage.
After allowing for proper dry time, I will then come back with my darker color and paint that area with 2-3 coats. The darker paint will follow the line of the lighter color of paint and generally will flow out to the edge of the detail giving a clean line. Sorry I don’t know the proper lingo to describe what’s happening with the paint , but hopefully you can get the idea.
Tips and Tools for Paint Touch Ups in a Two Tone Color Scheme
I always have touch ups to do whenever I’m painting a two tone color scheme. Sometimes I lose focus and touch something with my paint brush that I shouldn’t and other times it may be a tricky area and hard to get right the first time around.
I use a 1.5 or 2 inch angled Purdy brush for the main painting and for the tight areas and touch ups I use a variety of small craft brushes like these. Each project is different and I can’t really tell you which craft brush to use. Sometimes I use the flat brushes and sometimes the rounded. You’ll just have to play around and get a feel for each of them.
And just so you know, my touch ups with the light grey paint sometimes leads to more touch ups with the dark grey paint and so on and so on. Some pieces will take more patience than others.
Products I Used on this Picture Frame
I used some General Finishes paint I had left over from our wet bar makeover. The dark grey is General Finishes Queenstown Grey Milk Paint and the light grey was a mixture of the General Finishes Queenstown Grey Milk Paint and General Finishes Linen Milk Paint.