Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lazure Tutorial; Creating The Rainbow Room

The Waldorf lazure painting method. A lazure tutorial:

lazure DIY

On a recent visit to our local Waldorf school I was inspired by the beautifully painted walls. They were painted using a method called "Lazure", which has long been favored by Waldorf schools, and the traditions inspired by Rudolf Steiner.

Santa Cruz Waldorf School

Lazure a specific method of painting that consists applying layers of thin paint to a white wall. The "paint" itself is made up of water, binder, and pigment. The result has a dreamy, etherial quality.


SC Waldorf School, Kindergarden Classroom


I did some on-line research, and while I didn't find very many lazure painting tutorials, I was able to find a lot of inspiration, and a few "how to's" and tutorials.  But, overall the directions on how to produce this lovely ethereal effect were vague. So, with my background in art and painting, I was able to piece together a method that worked.

Lazure is a very old and specific art. While my method probably doesn't exactly follow tradition, I did get the result I'd hoped for (pictured bellow).



Lazure How To:


The following is a step by step Lazure painting tutorial. I did a DIY lazure, and it might not be the way a purist would go about it, but I got the desired effect.



Prep your Walls

In order to get the best effect, you will want to start with white walls. So, I began by painting the walls with a regular latex wall paint. I used off the shelf "ultra bright white". It's important to use a matte or flat finish. This should be available and easy to find at any hardware store, as it is the base for mixing all other paint colors.






Assemble your supplies:

You will need:

-Water

-Paint brush. A standard good quality wall paint brush like this one:



-Bowl or other container for mixing

-A soft cloth rag. I like to use cotton.


-Liquid watercolor paint. I used Stockmar Watercolor.  Please see the link below for more information:



**Alternatively, if you are on a budget, instead of the watercolor paint, you could probably use one of the following:

Artist grade acrylic paint like this:



Or, use a powdered pigment, like this:




-A pigment binding medium

I used this, because it's what I had in my stash at the time. But any type of matte polymer medium will work. This should be available at any art supply store, or on Amazon. I like the brand below:




-A large sponge. It can be dry or slightly damp. I used this one:



-Cheap white acrylic paint (student grade is fine). My go-to is this:



Get ready to mix!



Mix Your Wall Paint

You want a very thin mixture of color. It should still feel watery, and not thick like regular paint. I didn't measure very precisely. But here is the rough recipe:

-2-3 cups of water
-1/4 cup of polymer binder
-1-2 teaspoons of a single water color paint (you will need to mix up a new batch for each color)
-1 tablespoon of white acrylic paint

Mix well, I used the paint brush for mixing.

Lazure baby Lazure!

The next step is to begin applying the mixture to your walls. It is VERY drippy, so apply only a small amount at a time. I started at the top of the wall, and worked my way down to the floor. This way any drips could be easily wiped up with the rag.




Apply the mixture with the brush, using a swirling circular motion. Because I had textured walls, I really had to "scrub" the color in.
Then, follow up with the sponge, using the same circular/ sweeping arm motions. Imagine you are drawing "figure 8's" on the wall.

For a color that is consistent through the whole room: cover the entire wall with one color, and then layer another coordinating color on top of it. For example: blue and then yellow, would create a dreamy green.

I knew that I wanted the lazure colors to change as they moved around the room. So I applied one color at a time, fading it lighter towards either side.

Getting ready to fade into the next color

This way I could blend the next color in, so that it would appear like the two colors faded into one another.  Again, with the next color, I started with a lighter layer (over the edge of the previous color), moved onto a heavier application of solid color. Then, I again faded it with a lighter application as I moved towards the edge. This way the colors "blended" together as they met.

Lazure DIY
Blending Two Colors

Correcting Mistakes

My first attempt yielded some less than favorable results. I soon discovered a few times I had added too much watercolor pigment, and that some colors came out more saturated than others. Lazure is supposed to be light and dreamy, not bright and obnoxious!

Whoops! Too bright

Instead of starting over from scratch, I was able to fix the problem. I mixed up some water, and a small amount of the white latex wall paint (that I'd originally used as a base coat for the walls). This made a transparent white wash (test in a small area first, until you reach the desired consistency). I was able to use this to "dull down" and lighten the areas that were too vibrant. 


Using the large sponge, I dipped into the watery white paint and scrubbed the mixture directly onto the wall. I varied my arm strokes, sometimes swirling and sometimes using "S" curves. It is these subtle variations in tone that result in the depth of the final result. 

 

The white paint mixture becomes more transparent as it dries. 


End results




Overall I was pleased with the end result. Working in "rainbow order" I was able to include almost all of the colors. I love the way the color of this room changes subtly as the eye glides around the space. 




Some more close ups, and detailed photos of the space:











*Update*

In our new house I used this method again to paint the walls of my boys' room. For more ideas, inspiration, and another tutorial please see my newest Lazure tutorial: HERE!

Here are some preview photos:




If you try this project, I'd love to see the results! Please feel free to add a link to your photos in the comments section.


32 comments:

  1. Hi thanks so much. Can I have more details on what kind of polymer binder to use?

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome, I'm glad this was helpful! You should be able to find multiple kinds of polymers at any art supply store. The workers there will probably be able to direct you to the right self. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

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  2. How much of the liquid watercolor did you need?

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    Replies
    1. Good question... A little goes along way. I'd estimate that I used about 1/4 (of the bottle) of each color. Some colors are stronger than others, and don't need as much. So you'll want to test it as you slowly add more color.

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  3. This tutorial is saving my life! I do have one question though. Would it be possible to just use regular wall paints that you can buy at Home Depot and water them down instead of using the pigments and binders etc.? thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure... you could try. My guess though is that you wouldn't get the same transparent/ dreamy quality. Regular latex (wall) paint is thicker and more opaque, than something like (artist's) acrylics would be. I think you'd be better off using the cheapest acrylics that you can find at the art store.
      And, remember, if you don't like it... then you could just paint over it, and try again :)
      I'm so glad you're finding this tutorial helpful!

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    2. Ah, I see...
      How does the acrylic hold up on the walls overtime? Is it durable like latex paint, or does it have issues? I'm just concerned about putting a paint on the walls that isn't exactly meant to be wall paint, if you know what I mean. Thanks I appreciate your help! :)

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    3. It's super durable stuff :) I've never had any trouble with it coming off of walls (just as long as you don't put it on top of old oil-based paint).

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    4. Awesome! And one last question (hopefully). Can it be put on virgin drywall, or should I paint a primer on it first?

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    5. Yeah, you probably should. Or, some latex wall paint comes with primer mixed in it already. I'd ask at the paint store. post some pics when you're done! :)

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    6. Hey! One week away from painting and I just realized I had another question! What is the polymer binder for? Maybe that is an ignorant question, but I've never even heard of it before (and nether had anyone at the art store when I asked for it). If you could enlighten me, that would mean a lot. Thanks!

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    7. That's weird that they didn't know what it was... They must call it something else. It's essentially a glue for the pigment (color). Different kinds of paint use different binders (ex. acrylic, oil or latex). But with watercolor, only water is holding it together. So you need to add a little something extra so that it "sticks" to the walls. Without it it would just dry and be dusty; it would easily rub off the wall. Good luck :)

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  4. Hi, excellent post thank you! What colors do you suggest to create the typical rosy color you see in all the waldorf early childhood classrooms!!! Thank you so much!

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    1. Thanks! I'm not sure if I'm picturing it right, but if I were going for a warm rosy tone (like the one pictured above, with my daughter sitting in the room), I'd use mostly alizarin crimson (I think stockmar calls it Carmine Red) with a small amount of vermillion red mixed in for warmth. The vermillion pigment is generally a stronger more saturated shade, and leans toward orange. So, you won't need much. Have fun! :)

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  5. Hi! Thanks for the tutorial. I am trying to think of ways to discreetly soften the stark, off-white (though somehow always dirty looking) walls of my classroom. We have been told we are not allowed to paint, but it's driving me crazy! I was thinking a couple of layers of a warm yellow would be subtle, but effective? Do you have any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. I know how frustrating that can be! Maybe you could hide the wall some with something like large bulletin boards. Then you could hang long curtains on the sides of them, so that they read like a window. I go with floor to ceiling if you can find them (try Ikea). Also, I've heard that there are ways to attach fabric to a wall that don't cause damage (maybe with starch?).

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  6. Thank you!!! This tutorial is fantastic and answers my question about how to make the end result more durable than the way a friend did it. I'm wondering though whether tempera paint powder would work well for the colour. While I can access Stockmar colours locally... I inherited a bunch of the powdered tempera and it would be great to use some up (though not at the expense of a good end product). Thanks, Melanie

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    Replies
    1. I would think that as long as you use a binder of some kind (like what I suggested in the post above) you'd be fine with tempura. Watercolors are essentially just powdered pigment held together with water anyway. The only difference you might notice with tempura, is that it will be more opaque that watercolor. It tends to have a chalkier look than watercolor once dry. But, that could be really nice too!

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  7. What do you think of this method of making your paint? I like it because he just uses white wall paint, mixes in water and the color pigment. Then I wouldn't have to buy the binding medium and white acrylic paint that you suggest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UaloKoAv-s

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  8. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!
    regards,
    Airless Spray Gun

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks so much for your thorough tutorial Hayley. It was great reading this and the boys room. My daughter attended a Steiner school for a couple of years and yes their classrooms really are so dreamy. I've just painted my daughters room and kind of followed along with your instructions, I'm just writing up my blog post now and put a link back to your blog also. Thank you for sharing. Julie. http://www.itriedthistoday.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!
    regards,
    Airless Spray Gun

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is so cool to see your tutorial! Thank you! I used to teach in a Waldorf Charter School so I knew about this kind of painting, but we never used it in the classrooms. Now I'm moving into a new house and want to paint my two rooms this way. There is a light blue already on the walls. If it's a water base paint do you think it will work to paint with the lazure method on top of it? Or would it be better to repaint the wall white first. I'd like them to be more of a green, so wondered if I could paint with a light yellow water color on top of the blue, which is regular wall paint. THanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is so cool to see your tutorial! Thank you! I used to teach in a Waldorf Charter School so I knew about this kind of painting, but we never used it in the classrooms. Now I'm moving into a new house and want to paint my two rooms this way. There is a light blue already on the walls. If it's a water base paint do you think it will work to paint with the lazure method on top of it? Or would it be better to repaint the wall white first. I'd like them to be more of a green, so wondered if I could paint with a light yellow water color on top of the blue, which is regular wall paint. Do the paints need to dry in between or do you work them in on top of each other while wet or damp? THanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds fun!
      I think painting yellow over it would probably work fine. It might not have the same "glow" as a bright white base coat provides, but it would still be lovely. And, it might even make it feel more serene to the color be subtle.

      Delete
  13. This is so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to post this with so many pictures.

    Do you think the stockmar watercolor is vital? I've never bought stockmar because of the price, but have some off brand liquid watercolor i bought at Joann I'd like to use to keep the price down on this project. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you could use anything, as long as it's in liquid form (in a tube or jar). Or you could even use powdered pigment instead of paint. Check art stores for powdered pigment.

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  14. Can this be done outdoors? The paints you are using are water soluble.

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    Replies
    1. Great question! If I were you I'd go to the paint store and ask them is they have a (clear) binder that could be used outdoors. I'd imagine something latex based would work well.

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  15. What size bottle of watercolor did you buy and how much did you use for each batch of color where you have 2-3 cups of water? I bought only the primary colors in the medium sized bottles, 50ml.
    Thank you,
    Joan

    ReplyDelete
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