Ah Mexican art! I love the colors, the prints, the sworlies (is that even a word?), the Catrinas…
You would think these things would be cheap if you are buying them from street vendors in Mexico but not quite!
First, most street vendors are in tourist areas and of course vendors will start their prices high until you are walking out of the sale and they chase to give you that extra discount. But even so, some of these items are still expensive even with all the discounts in the world! Second, carrying some of these items home can be tricky unless you are driving or have lots of money to ship them.
While I understand that a handmade art object should receive its proper value, it is still expensive if you want to add some of these things to your collection. Also, you may not be able to visit Mexico for some reason or another (not vacation time, no money, etc, etc). So what is a girl to do? Make Mexican art right here. At home!
If you have been following our blog, you will remember that I am working on a bar decorating project (here, part deux here and part three here). The theme of the bar is Day of the Dead inspired by two of my favorite bars in Cabo (coincidentally they are owned by the same person-See pics above). So far, we have the bar counter, backbar and the bar stools (at least the ones in front of the counter-here). But now I want a menu on the wall to display some of the drinks we “offer”!
For this project, I decided that a chalkboard menu would look cool. A friend of mine was downsizing his house and he gave me this picture frame a while ago (I know, not a good photo. Oh, and the green is just tape). I liked the sturdiness of the frame and figured one day I would use it for something. Since the print doesn’t fit the style of my house (eclectic, junk, repurposed, recycled and comfy) I thought I would just use the frame. So when I decided I wanted to start the project for the menu I thought this would be perfect. Because I was too lazy to remove the print from under the glass and decided that I would just paint over everything.
First, I’m not ashamed to say that I painted over the glass. It’s a nice solid surface and I thought, why not? Of course, I used chalkboard paint since the plan is to be able to include menu lettering and a list of drinks that we can occasionally change according to holidays or party themes.
As to the chalkboard paint, you can make your own very easily (you can find lots of recipes on Pinterest using baking soda, plaster of paris or unsanded grout) or just buy the paint at any hardware store. I was lazy (oy) and bought mine. And yes, I didn’t save any money but I used so little that I will have chalkboard paint forever!!! I know I will use it again in some other project so all is not lost.
Because I didn’t use any primer I had to apply at least 3 coats for coverage (make sure you let it dry before applying a new coat). I’m sure if I had applied a primer (black?) it would have covered a little easier (maybe). Anyway, once all the coats were done and dry I set out to paint the frame. I chose acrylic paint but latex would have been fine too. You can certainly use fancier frames with more curves or trims but for this project the flat frame was perfect since I was going to add my “Mexican flair” and I needed a flat surface to do that.
I chose a strong yellow for the frame (Mexican art has bright colors, remember?) and then added a red trim on the inside of the frame and a purple to the outside of the frame for a “POP”!(I know, hard to see the purple here)
Now for the fun part: “the flair”! On my last trip to Cabo I took some pictures of Mexican art that I liked and I thought I could use some of those images to “create” my own art. I am a little challenged when it comes to drawing so having a design to get ideas from really helped.
I selected the design I wanted for my frame and printed the image in larger scale.
I printed the image in poster size (the picture above is actually 4 pages in 8×11 with parts of the image printed in the 4 pages). Each printer has different setting to do that so check your manual if you don’t know how to do posters. You can always take your image to an office supply store too. They will enlarge your pictures in black and white for a fraction of the cost. Once printed, I put together the “poster” by trimming any edges that prevented the image from lining up and taped to keep them together.
I turned the poster on its back and used a pencil to fill in the back of the image (you can use chalk if the base color is dark). The picture shows me using a chalk (different project) but in this case I actually used a pencil since the base was yellow and the chalk would never show on the transfer.
I flipped the image over and lined it up with the frame so I could start tracing the image I wanted to transfer on to the frame. From that poster all I wanted was to copy the edge detail for my frame. The other images (watermelon, rose…) I saved for another project (coming soon!). Be very careful when tracing not to move the page around or you will lose your spot. Trying to place it back where you missed is nearly impossible.
How cool is that?! No experience necessary!!
Next step is filling in the “sworlies” (trademark? LOL) by painting it. Keep in mind that even though you have a traced line to keep you within the limits of the lines you will still have some freedom to paint and add your own brush strokes to it. Don’t be afraid! The lines are there for you. The way to make it look like the professionals is to make sure that the bruch strokes are light.
In order to make these “sworlies” look right I had to practice on another surface doing “J”s with the brush (You can use scrap wood or paper to practice). In fact, you really need to practice doing upside down “J”s and flipped “J”s.
Start with the small curve of the “J” with a little more paint on the brush and then as you are going up the long line remove some of the presure off the brush and twist it at the same time. You want to make sure that the end of the long line looks like you ran out of paint. A light stroke if you will (see below).
Practice the brush strokes for a while before working on the final product. Of course, once you are working on your surface if you make a mistake you can always remove the paint quickly with a wet paper towel or even paint over with the base color. Notice that the purpose of the “J” is to make sure that the design has a natural curve on the round part and a whispy finish. However, you will come back to the top of the “teardrop” and will fill it in so it looks like a long drop and not an actual “J”.
Needless to say, start painting the frame from left to right (or vice versa if you are left handed) but always make sure to be painting away from the place you started so no accidents happen. After the paint dries, you can clean it with a light wet rag to remove the pencil marks off the surface and voila! Or better yet: !Aqui esta¡ Su arte! – Your Art!
Looks very cool already!
Join me next time to see how I did the lettering on my chalkboard menu (Of course, if you are impatient like me, you can check Pinterest for some lettering tecniques or you can free hand it.