Frederick artist offers faux painting classes
With a little paint and glaze, a few tools and a little time, a simple, functional front door with the rich colors and grains of oak or mahogany can become an inviting statement for a home. A concrete column can look like marble, a ceiling can turn into a cloudy sky, and old cabinets can be given new life.
To get this look and more, homeowners just have to go to school. The Faux School, founded in Frederick by 41-year-old artist Ron Layman, offers instruction in decorative painting techniques to amateurs and professionals alike.
Laie, who started a decorative painting business in 1996 and started teaching the techniques three years later, is known for his ability to fool the naked eye. His brushstrokes can be seen on the faux marble doors of the Kennedy Center, the backdrops for Smithsonian exhibits, and the color matching on pillars in the National Gallery of Art.
Laie said he had less than two weeks to complete the work at the Kennedy Center.
“After all these years, they decided to stop painting the doors and paint them to match the marble on the outside of the building,” he said.
But you don’t have to live in a museum to use decorative painting. Homeowners are finding that fine art painting can add texture and interest to their spaces, either by hiring someone to do it or by trying it out for themselves. The look is significantly cheaper than installing real marble or wood and can easily be changed with a few pops of color.
Interest in fine art seems to be growing, according to Layman, partly because of home improvement shows on cable TV channels, and partly because large stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s provide materials and information.
“I think people do more,” he said, adding that decorative painting is a good alternative to wallpaper and is relatively inexpensive by comparison. “If you want to do something, you only need a few liters of paint.”
He also said: “You can change things in an instant while wallpaper or colors are what they are, there isn’t much variety.”
But some fine art painting techniques are more challenging than others, and this is where the Layman School comes in.
In a cool, gray-carpeted warehouse in Frederick, two Baltimore students have come to learn the techniques, but not to paint their own houses.
Aaron D’Antoni, 30, of Towson, is a professional painter looking to add fine art painting to the services he offers his clients.
Alan Zemla, 45, of Windsor Mill, is a set designer at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theater in Baltimore and wants to be able to create realistic-looking sets on a budget. “That has always interested me,” said Zemla. “Now I have an excuse to learn.”
While working, they both think of rooms in their own four walls that would benefit from fine art painting. “I have a panel in my basement that’s made of whiteboard and that would look great,” said D’Antoni as Layman demonstrated how to create a woodgrain look.
“So this will be mahogany,” said Zemla, looking at the orange painted rectangle on his easel. “At least that’s what Ron tells us.”
By the end of a five-day workshop, his students have already learned nearly 20 techniques, including creating leather, granite, brick, marble, rust, and Venetian plaster. Some techniques are simple enough for beginners and produce pretty impressive results. Laie said perhaps the easiest technique is to paint a surface and then cover it with a glaze. Lightly squirt spray alcohol onto the surface. That’s it.
Creating the look of leather is also relatively easy, he said. First, paint a surface in a satin color, then brush on a glaze in a darker but similar color. Buy a piece of cheap plastic, slide it into the glaze, and peel it off. Let it dry and admire the result.
But for his students, now is the time for what Layman considers to be the toughest texture paint can create: wood grain.
“What makes the woods and marbles more complicated is that you are trying to mimic something people are familiar with,” he said. “Walls are easier if you just make the wall pretty and avoid certain mistakes.”
A sheet of paper is already painted a warm orange on Layman’s easel. Layman recommends using eggshell or satin paint as the underlying layer. He tells his two students that the key to creating the look of wood is understanding how trees grow and how the sap is made. If it is not right, a viewer will know that it is wrong, perhaps without realizing exactly what is wrong with it.
Layman first covers the entire sheet with a mahogany-colored glaze, using long brushstrokes that sweep across the entire surface. Then he dips a small brush in black paint and lightly outlines what he calls “tipis” and bends on the top of the paper. He then uses a brush called a brass stain to mess up the hues, followed by a brush called a roof brush to soften the lines.
Paint and glazes can be in Layman’s blood. His great-grandfather Joseph Wilhyde was a painter in Frederick as early as 1890. Lay grandfather opened a painting and wallpaper business in Frederick in 1947, and his father Ronald Layman Sr. was a decorative painter.
Even if fine art painting is not a given, Layman encourages beginners to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, a few brush strokes will create a clean surface to try again, he said.
But for those who don’t have time to take a course or don’t have the genetic talent, hiring a professional may be the way to go.
“It takes a lot of technology,” said Sharon Sanner-Rose of the decorative painting company Sanner-Rose Studio / Andrea Nichole Inc. in Hampden. “If you’re not really doing something simple and want to tackle a small area, it can be a little.” overwhelming.”
However, homeowners should be aware that hiring a person to create a faux finish on a wall, ceiling, or anywhere else is more expensive than simply painting it, as it takes significantly more time and talent. But it can make business sense if the alternative is to swap out fixtures like kitchen cabinets or use real marble or other materials, she said.
“At the moment I am remaking all the kitchen cabinets from someone,” said Sanner-Rose. “They were dark brown and we repaint them and put a faux finish, a decorative distressed finish on them.”
Contractors also hire her studio to add details like wood grain to add value and visual appeal to their projects, she said. Their prices start at around $ 350 for simple tech in a small space like a powder room. She said, “Something simple that gives life and depth to a room.”
Whether a homeowner is attending his class, hiring a professional, or reading a book or website, Layman said fine art painting can be challenging, but the results are worth it. “With a basic knowledge of the medium and a little creativity, as well as a little practice and experience, the possibilities are endless.”
Tips on faux painting
Decorative painter and expert Ron Layman of the Faux School in Frederick offers this advice:
• Use fine art painting to add warmth and depth to a room. “You can make large rooms look smaller and more intimate with paint, or you can make small rooms look bigger,” Layman said.
• Use art painting to update kitchen cabinets or give a front door a richer look.
• Start with a small space and a relatively simple technique if you do it yourself.
• As with any painting, tape off the baseboards and edges before starting.
• Use satin or eggshell paint as a primer under the glaze – and choose the highest quality glaze you can find.
• Don’t be afraid to paint over your work and try again. “Just practice and be attentive,” Laie said.
The faux school
The Faux School, 35 South Carroll St., Frederick, 301-668-5110. Offers one-day, two-day, three-day, and five-day courses teaching various art painting techniques.