Congratulations on those great concrete masterpieces that you have poured! But don’t you just love the look of really old concrete?! This technique shows how to antique concrete to look aged as I am not a fan of very colourful ‘plastic-looking’ finishes. It is super simple and requires no special painting skills, just a bit of paint. Go grab some concrete…
The Paint and Supplies:
- White and black acrylic paint (I used this )
- Matt Medium
- Flat Wide brushes
- Paper towels or rags
- Your favourite Concrete Pieces or I’ll help you make some:
I have a lot of experience with paint, not just for crafting but as an illustrator I have been using acrylic paint for more years than I’d like to admit. Acrylic has come a long way and am quite impressed at it’s longevity. I have painted banners that hang outside through all elements here in Canada and they have withstood for years. Sometimes they are not even meant for exterior use, imagine that?! I sometimes like to live life on the edge… haha. But if you are concerned you can find the exterior version of paints and work them to this same technique.
I drew inspiration from these old leaf stepping stones that I had cast many years ago. They show off their great texture.
I’m using some of my own cast concrete pieces like the Critter and the Hands. Concrete is very porous and will ‘suck in’ any paint quite readily which will not allow you to control the amount of colour coverage. To maintain most of the concrete colour on the surfaces I give it a dry-brush type scrubbing with matt medium. Make sure your brush has very little medium on it by rubbing off on paper towel. It should NOT be a complete 100% coverage, but just on the ‘top’ surfaces to keep them from absorbing the next layers. Let this dry for a few minutes. (By the way this technique works on many things such as plaster too…)
To enhance the textures, mix some black paint with a bit of matt medium and water to make it quite fluid and transparent. This ‘Antiquing stain’ is meant to get into the details and be absorbed by the concrete. It should not be too thick as too fill the details. Spread it without being too fussy, and quickly dab and rub off what does not sit in the details. If it dries it will not give the details enhancement, so work quickly. A damp rag will help to remove the excess as well.
I usually work in smaller sections due to the speed that it dries. See how much it brings out the depth of details and texture.
If it needs more feel free to do another layer. This is meant to be a subtle technique that should not even look painted, but just naturally aged. The colour of the concrete still shows through as the matt medium first coat had no colour. If you are happy, consider it done. It is only antiqued, it isn’t really considered waterproofed though. I prefer it not to be so I leave it like this.
Step 1: (as above)
Step 2: (as above)
Rubbing off the excess and exposing the details of the concrete fingers. Lovely! This life cast method of concrete pouring is perfect for this as it picks up so much detail in the hands!
Well done! If you’d like even more aging you could consider adding some mossy green, to mimic the natural growth in the recesses.
Step 4 (Optional):
Yes, I know, the artist in me always gets ‘picky’. For more contrast with the recesses I added a quick ‘dry brushing’ of white to further lighten the top surfaces. Dry brushing is easy, rub off most of the paint from the brush on a dry rag and then ‘scrub’ it on the surface. Very little paint will transfer but it will lighten the top surfaces.
It is a magical painting technique I use all the time…
How easy was that?! You can now call yourself an artist and through around some fancy painting terms.
It makes such a difference to any form that has texture. The options of colour are endless once you use this method. The method of my metallic cast leaf planter is similar but uses copper paint.
As for exterior use, there is such good absorption that it lasts well. The paints fail when they are very thick and water pushes them off. This is a thin technique that lets the concrete colour through. If there is any loss or peeling it will be very unnoticeable due to the transparency. As this is an antiquing method you would use further steps if you wanted to waterproof. My motto: ‘less is more’.
Raw concrete – faux aged concrete… You have the power…
This Post Has 19 Comments
I’m working with concrete and I love it. I’m making the leaves USING ELEPHANT EAR leaves and cannon plant leaves. And concrete hands. Hope Iva get to be as good as you are. Thanks for sharing.
I am sure you can! It’s like baking, and I bet you learn something each time you cast. How can you go wrong when nature provides the mold?! (and at no cost) That’s another thing I like about and that it gets me outside and it lasts outside!
Love all your techniques…you,re a great teacher and i am looking so forward to working with concrete!
How can my castings with smoother surfaces? Fewer air holes.
Hi there! I am not sure what mix you are using. It does sometimes depend on the viscosity of the mix, as it may not flow well enough. Also, do you vibrate the mold after pouring? On my small pours/molds I ‘smack’ it to release the bubbles, even tap it on the table if possible. More tapping, the bubbles will rise out. There is also a way to pour a very thin layer first to coat the inside of the mold before the other filling. Check my other concrete projects ‘Hope that helps
You add the paint to Medium. Can you give me details of what this is please. It must be called something else here in New Zealand and I so want to follow you and try this to age my concrete bits and pieces. Love your work
Here we call it acrylic medium which is the clear acrylic that can be used as a finish coat. They are usually available in matt or gloss, thick or thin. They can also be mixed with the acrylic paint as then it is stronger than watering it down. Here is one company’s version.
I am in South Africa and also
Like to know what the “medium” is in order to know what to look for here by us. Maybe if possible can you mention the ingredients as it is listed on your product?
Greetings from Canada! This medium is a good quality and is versatile for use. I hope that helps. I’m sure you could substitute similar form other brands. Art supply stores should know!
will the painted projects hold up to the weather?
I have had mine outside for a couple years. I had noticed that rocks I painted maybe 15 years ago seem to still hold up. I used acrylic outdoor paint craft paint. Thinner applications of paint work better as then they don’t have a tendency to peel. Concrete likes to be able to breathe….
I was wondering how to make the cement hands? Do you have a step by step on how to make these?
Yes, the link was in step #1 btw… Here it is again. Good luck
Thank you for your answer to my planter question. If they are already painted a Verdi green color, and not raw concrete, should I first paint the entire planter a neutral “concrete” color and then proceed as you instructed? Just not sure if it will work (absorb the treatment) since it’s already painted and not porous?
I would try to ‘wear’ it off, maybe some strong coarse emery cloth/sandpaper. Then the colour would stay in the creases and maybe a quick black wash would help.The breathability of concrete means it tends NOT to like heavy coats of paint. It will depend on how long you want the piece to last. Hope that helps!
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE not only your work but your teaching posts! Everything is so understandable and your joy in your art and chosen medium always shines through. Thank you so much for being so open about your craft and sharing “how to’s” with others.
Questions: I’ve acquired a concrete Buddha statue that the previous owner stupidly put bright white primer on and then he spray painted him. Most of the paint has peeled off but the primer remains. How would you recommend getting the primer off – without noxious chemicals?
Or, do you recommend my painting over it? Not having done concrete before but coming in with a lot of painting experience in general, (along with a lot of confidence lol!), if you feel I can’t save him as concrete how would you paint him?
For painting, I picture some type of aged metal but how would you finish him off?
IF I do go with aged metal, I’d LOVE him to look like patinaed copper. I was thinking this could be accomplished by painting him a base of copper (what would you use? mixed colors? colors of what???). I then think that if I follow your “aged concrete” directions but using a dark color (what? black?) along with a seafoam type green that I’d end up with a copper patina but what are your thoughts???
THANK YOU so very much Miss Barb for any advice and instructions you can share!
I’m really hoping that with your guidance that I can tackle this project and end up with a gorgeous result like you do. 😎
If I were you I would give the fellow a good paint job! The copper patina sounds great and do make it not so perfect or bright coloured! I think you have the idea about the colours and there is a good post here (I don’t have one) Make sure it is exterior grade acrylic (patio paint) Fun!
I’m trying to figure out how you get the fingernails and finger creases on the hands as the ones I have seen made with rubber gloves are smooth?
Oh, these are made by casting with alginate and real hands The rubber glove method never worked for me, always the fingers broke. Casting with Alginate picks up every detail!