• Amy

How to Paint Faux Marble

In my latest oil painting I added a marble wall as my backdrop. Here are my tips + tricks.



Research

I had never attempted to paint marble before. So I headed to the internet. I watched several videos. But there was one video in particular that I watched over and over. I would watch it just to get reinspired. Seeing the process again helped remind me what I should be doing.


The video: HERE



Process

The thing is that in the video she is working with acrylic paint. I was slightly nervous to try the same process with oil paint.


So instead of using water to make the paint flow I needed to use mineral spirits and oil.


don't forget the rule:

fat over lean.

Fat over lean is the most common oil painting rule you will hear. It refers to using more oil in each subsequent layer. The fat over lean rule applies to all oil painting processes, not just painting marble but it's also key to painting marble.


What does that mean, practically?

You need to start your first layer with mineral spirits (or you could even use something water based like acrylic paint. Never use acrylic paint ontop of oil paint). Then with each subsequent layer you must use more oil than the first layer.

For example:

Layer 1 mineral spirits + oil paint

Layer 2 mineral spirits + a little poppy oil + oil paint

Layer 3 poppy oil + a little mineral spirits+ oil paint

Layer 4 poppy oil + oil paint

Layer 5 Mostly poppy oil + a little oil paint


Why is it important?

You want to avoid cracking. Oil paint doesn't dry, it oxidizes which means that instead of water evaporating the oil paint is become hardened when it reacts the oxygen in the air. For this to happen it needs to have air. If I use a lot of oil on my first layer (which may take a week to "dry") and then I use mineral spirits for my next layer (which will take 1 day to dry) then the layer underneath won't have the air to oxidize and it will cause cracking.


Instead of re-describing the process that you can find in the video above, I'll just say I think oil paint worked the same as acrylic paint and water as long as I kept the fat over lean rule in mind to avoid damage later.


Tools

I used:

Oil Paint

Mineral spirits

Poppy oil (you can use Linseed oil, but because my background is really light I wanted an oil that won't yellow as much with age).

Scrap paper to protect the floor

Many different sizes of brushes (some pretty ragged old ones for different textures)

Sponges - be careful, some times the sponges need to be washed out first. You just want to avoid random dirt

Shop towels (paper towels from the hardware store. They are best because they are tough and they don't leave that white paper towel dust everywhere.)


Conclusion

I loved this process because it was so opposite of how I normally work. My painting style is very precise and planned. Painting marble was messy and experimental.


I found the key to success was many layers. 2-3 layers may look pretty good. But if you push a little farther (4-6 layers), you can find magic.


Good luck!

-Amy