How to Learn the Tole Painting Style

Things You'll Need

  • Paints
  • Brushes of various styles
  • Book or pamphlet explaining use of brushes and strokes
  • Object to be painted
  • Pattern to copy

How to Learn the Tole Painting Style. Tole painting is a form of 'decorative painting'. It's rooted in many countries, including Germany and Scandinavia. In Tole painting, artists use only one stroke to create an object such as a flower, bird, leaf, scroll or a paisley pattern. Follow these steps to learn this art form.

Choose the object you want to paint. Tin, ceramic and wood are the materials traditionally used. Prepare the surface of the chosen article (tin should be washed thoroughly sprayed with a primer, wood should be sanded until smooth and a primer may be used) so that the paint will adhere to the surface and the paint strokes may be applied properly.

Decide on the type of paint you are comfortable working with. The traditional style used oil paints, but now acrylics are often used as they work well on wood, and the brushes do not require the treatment that oils entail.

Find a book with instructions on how to perform the various brush strokes used in tole painting. Homecraft Express at offers a number of books on the subject. You will find six basic strokes: The teardrop stroke, the comma stroke, the 'S' stroke, the crescent (or 'C') stroke, the pivot stroke and line work. Practice these until you have mastered each one before commencing on a project.

Learn how to 'double load' or 'triple load' your paint-brush. This technique is the heart of tole painting. It adds the depth and beauty that characterizes this style. It involves using two or three colors in one brush stroke, which simplifies and saves time while creating the shading and dimension necessary for the beauty of the painting.

Keep the object you are painting in a position that allows you to draw the brush towards you. You must pull the brush to produce the desired effect. Turn the piece as needed so that it is always facing in a direction that allows you to use this technique.

Buy an assortment of brushes; there are several kinds that produce different effects. Practice with these until you are familiar with the results of each one. The different brush types include: round, liner, flat, angle and specialty brushes, such as 'mop' and 'fan'.


  • Be sure to practice the techniques before applying them to the object to be painted. This will ensure that you will be satisfied with the results.

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