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How to paint a Trompe Loeil landscape on a chest of drawers


Painting furniture in unexpected ways and adding a twist to classic motifs is a fun and unique way to dress up an old piece and bring color to a room. Using a landscape painting for inspiration, you can treat your antique furniture piece like a canvas and create your own ethereal landscape. The key to making this technique work is to soften the edges of color between each ridge. Use an artist's brush to fill in the details and tear several pieces of cardstock so that each ridge line is different, just like a real landscape.
Use satin-finish latex paints to give the piece a protective finish so you don't have to apply a top coat of varnish. But add extra coats to each section for a solid, even surface that lasts a long time.

Step 1

Prepare the piece

Remove hardware and drawer pulls. Lightly sand the dresser just enough to scrape off the old varnish. Wipe dresser surface to remove residue.

Step 2

Create primer and apply

Mix black acrylic paint and white gesso to create a gray base. Gesso is a traditional furniture primer that adheres well to wood and self-levels for a smooth surface. Paint the entire piece with a smooth, solid coat of the mixture.

Step 3

Apply the background color

When the gesso is dry, paint the first color; We use Sherwin-Williams Tupelo Green. Apply the color to all of the legs and to the dresser about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up. Fill in the top edge to smooth the transition between colors.

Stage 4

Create the ridgelines

Tear off a large piece of cardstock, creating a draped, mountain-like edge.

Step 5

Apply the second color

Place the jagged edge of the poster board against the dresser, just below the feathered area of ​​the first color. This will create the first ridge in the landscape.

With a small roller, paint the second color (Secret Garden). Cardboard roll in dresser. Slide out the cardstock, aligning it with the first section, and repeat the steps, creating a ridge along the front and sides of the dresser. Using a square brush, lightly paint over the rolled area to smooth the surface and continue a little higher up the vanity, tipping the top of the section as you go. Paint over any carved or decorative details as if they weren't there, then use an artist's brush to tidy up the paint for a clean, even coat of color.

Step 6

Add more colors

Continue with the steps above, adding paint colors and bump lines as desired. Some ridges will cross all the way across the dresser, while others will drop off halfway, just like a real landscape painting.

Step 7

Paint the top

Once the last ridge has been created with the last color, simply paint the rest of the dresser, including the top, in that last color. Let dry completely for 24 hours before reattaching hardware.