My "Paint My Numbers" Project

This article really belongs on my home renovation site, but since it has to do with art, I thought I'd post it here as well.

Long ago, I had decided to paint my numbers -- my house numbers that is -- to fill the big gap that had been left by the removal of the front door. For years I lived with that gap, but finally, this summer, the house got painted, and this weekend is Indian summer, the perfect time for this project.

(All photos will enlarge if you click on them.)

Playing with the design on photos of the house.
Earlier this year, I had been playing with the design on some photos of the house that I had printed out. I had even consulted my friend, Jane Evans, who is an artist and a designer. She had some excellent suggestions for both the number and the green around the windows. (You can see on the photo how I tried two different ways of framing the windows with green.)

Sketch of design on foamboard.
I needed something rigid to make a stencil that I could play with until I was satisfied, that I could then cut out and trace on the wall.

This had to be something that was easy to cut neatly. I settled on foamboard from the dollar store. The boards were 20" x 30", so I joined them by taping them on the back.

This worked really well.

The design is ready to try on the house.
 I used a pushpin and some string to draw the big circles and some plates for the smaller ones. I used coloured markers of different colours for the different tests, so that I'd know exactly where to cut.

I cut everything with a blade cutter. It was very easy to get a neat cut.

Then I pasted the cutouts on the wall with painter's tape to have a look. That's when I realized that my sun/moon pattern was too big, so I redid it.

Tracing of the design with non-permanent markers.

When I was happy with the position (which I tested with a level), I traced around the designs with non-permanent markers of the same colours as the design would be. That way, the outline would just blend in.

Closeup of tracing.
You can see it better on this closeup.

I had to give up at that point because a certain bee was way too curious about my hands. I finished the next day, after locating the insect repellent.

Partially done -- what's wrong with that "3"?
 Here's a perfect example of why you should always step back from your painting.

Taking a photo has the same effect. Anyone can see there's something very wrong with that "3".

Close-up of corrections to the "3" on a photo
I printed out the photo, then I used a white gel pen to reduce the top line's length and the diagonal line's thickness; I also rounded the angles and added an orange flame inside the sun's rays with an orange marker.

The result seemed a lot better to me.

The final result. Good enough!
I used some of the house's white paint to cover the green I didn't want, added the orange flames and another coat of dark blue on the sky.

I also painted a blue eye and a red mouth on the moon.

Later today, I will add another coat of white over the mistakes (if you enlarge the picture you will see where), but generally I'm satisfied.

The full façade in October 2011
Next spring, I will use the leftover green paint to go over the window frames, as I find the present shade of green tends to look black under certain lighting conditions -- as it does in these photos.

(As you can see, a neat lawn isn't a priority for me!)

Why don't you try painting your own house numbers? It's a great way to personalize your home!

By the way, did you know that you can get sample sizes (8 ounces) of just about any paint or colour at Home Depot? For this job I ordered flat exterior paint in green (two pots), yellow, blue and red. With the three primaries I can make just about any colour I want. I have another project in mind for a big empty wall at the back of the house...

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