Spray paint art is similar to airbrushed art in appearance, but it does not require an air compressor. Instead, spray paint artists use conventional spray paint cans with a wide variety of tools and supplies in order to achieve different shapes, shades and textures. Spray paint art is also similar to graffiti or street art in that it often appears in urban settings as murals, or on cars and skateboards, for example.
Spray paint is sold in aerosol cans in a variety of colors and finishes such as glossy, matte and textured. Always use the same brand in a project in order to be certain your paint will mix well and dry at the same rate. The more expensive brands are preferable; cheaper brands have more solvent than pigment, which causes the colors to bleed and run.
Spray paint can be applied to any surface with varying effects. While some artists prefer concrete or plaster walls, canvas and poster board is also used to create conventional art pieces for sale or galleries. Thin, glossy poster board allows the artist to re-wet the paint as he works; plaster and canvas may absorb the paint and dry more quickly.
Painter's tape and masking tape are used to tape stencils and mask off areas that the artist does not want covered with paint or a particular color. Masking materials range from paper and plastic wrap to pans and boxes. Professional vinyl can also be used. This is a thin material that can be cut to specific shapes and then smoothed over the surface where it will cling without the need for tape. This material is only useful for masking dry areas.
Wax Paper, Tin Foil, Magazines or Newspaper
All of these low-cost materials can create effects and textures such as rock formations, water ripples , typography or foliage. The papers are pressed or dabbed onto wet paint areas to achieve the desired effect and sometimes layered. There is no single technique or requirement for using these materials – it is purely up to the artist to experiment.
Etching & Drawing tools
Palette knives, spatulas or even sticks are used to etch, draw or scrape detail into wet paint. As paint is displaced by the tool, any colors layered below the top coat will show through, allowing the artist to create illustration, dimension and contrast. Fine details such as tree branches, highlights, facial features or lettering can also be achieved using these tools.
Sponges and sponge brushes are used to absorb excess paint, create different texture effects and blend colors. Wetting a sponge with solvent and smoothing it over an area sprayed with multiple colors can produce a beautiful sunset or underwater effect. Sponges may also be used to introduce swirls, droplets and other effects to areas of the artwork
Stencils create specific shapes or areas within the artwork in order to achieve a fine outline separate from a background or etched areas. Stencils can be just about anything, including cookie cutters or shapes cut out of stencil board or cardboard. There is a wide variety of commercial stencils also available. Razor blades, X-Acto knives or box cutters can be used to cut stencils.
Spray paint contains chemicals that can be harmful to your skin and lungs after prolonged exposure. Wear gloves to protect your hands; wear appropriate clothing. The most important protection you have will be your respirator, or face mask. The respirator must be able to filter both airborne paint particles and fumes. Most hardware stores sell respirators.
Vail Joy is a longtime writer, designer and copy editor with a vibrant background in corporate business writing, technical writing and music journalism. Since 1996 she has been published in various music magazines, poetry compilations and business publications. Joy's writing specializes in design, technical and art-related topics.