I've had some recent projects with painting faux marble for two churches, both of them, oddly enough, named Holy Rosary, but in different parts of the state. The first was my ongoing project with the Holy Rosary in Pomeroy Washington. They needed me to match the pillars I had painted last October for the rest of the altar.
For this project I started with primed PVC pipes and laid out the pattern of veining to imitate a type of marble called Calcutta Oro that had drifts of green, ochre and linen white along with a touch of umber.
To the right is a sample of actual Calcutta Oro.
Here is the beginning veining for the Calcutta Oro.
Just recently I was asked by Jergen's Paint, a high end Seattle painting compay, to prepare a sample for another Holy Rosary church in West Seattle. Here is the sequence …from the time I started with the very VERY smooth primer coat (I like Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Alkyd paint…it is a Dream to Sand.) BIN white shellac is good too, and blocks any under colors. My partner Phil screwed the bottom of this wooden pole onto some plywood, so I could turn the pillar easily without it tipping.
I use a bit of Golden Acrylic glaze and JoSonja gouache acrylic paint for my faux marble for my first layer...and the layers after. I can use JoSonja gouache as well with tinted Benjamin Moore Satin water based Urethane. When a painter uses these products, there is not much build in the paint areas, which adds to the illusion of faux marble. Also, JoSonja is a lot cheaper than other acrylic gouache lines like Holbein.
I like JoSonja acrylic gouache...The paint doesn't lift (after drying 15 minutes) and I can use it as transparency...with or without Golden acrylic glaze or in Benjamin Moore water based urethane, and the colors are matt, intense, varied and light fast. Also, it works well with Golden Acrylic products, which I use a lot, and I can wipe out sections for veining or lighter inclusions before it totally sets up.
Lynne Rutter of www.ornamentalist.com uses watercolor and/or gouache + champagne for the base coat. She prefers oil based paints after that, and that's a classic approach. However, I like acrylics because of no solvent and the paints dry quicker.
I apply the first layer with the peach colored acrylic gouache (watered down burnt sienna and a bit of vermillion and white titanium,) and then I wipe off some of the paint for the beginning of inclusions and channels for veining.
Then I used watered down waterbased tinted urethane…usually raw sienna tinted…and I apply it with a piece of damp T shirt rag. I slip this tinted urethane over the base coat at least 3 times with the Tshirt urethane soaked rag....it dries really fast and will fix the bottom layer.
I use this Tshirt method for all of my urethane coats because it is fast and doesn't show brush marks. Fast and effective is good!
After the tinted layers on the first coat dry, I start shading some of the areas, and spatter some dark spots as well as start veining some other areas. I use a round skunk hair brush and my badger brush (obtained from badgers and skunks only with their permission) to blend out the channels and shapes. A rigger brush is perfect for veins.
Each time I add urethane varnish over the new paint layers with my urethane soaked Tshirt rag to preserve the new layers of paint. The urethane is now tinted with a light orange vermillion tint…just slip in on and it dries in a minute!
Also, if I use Golden satin glaze with the gouache so you can blend. It speeds it up to add a bit of Golden acrylic matt medium to the Golden acrylic glaze when I apply the paint areas between urethane coats. It dries faster.I start refining the dark spots and adding veins. Then I go over all with a urethane layer tinted with a bleached titanium white to unify the shapes.
And I add another more saturated tint of orange vermillion urethane… and touch up a few more spots…smooth out some of those zits with a white scotch bright pad…..... and FINISHED!