Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Paint Rust

Hooked on Elkmont
A watercolor painting by
Karen A. Cooke

The painting above titled "Hooked on Elkmont" is a close up of an old hook which was attached to the side of the cabin from my last blog post.  I enjoy painting unusual objects and this old hook was a great item to paint.  There was also an old shovel (at least part of one) which was also hanging on the side of the cabin which I plan to paint in the future.  Today's post will give instructions on how to paint realistic rust.  This painting will be covered in two different blog posts:  today's post will give instructions on how to paint rust; the next post will give instructions on how to paint weathered wood. 

Supplies Needed:
Watercolor paper (type and size of your choice)  - I used a 9" x 12" piece
Masking Tape
Watercolor board

Brushes: flat, liner and round (size of your choice based on the size of your paper)


  • Indigo
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Yellow Ocher

Painting Instructions:
Lightly sketch this painting on your paper. 

Step 1:
Paint the hook with a flat wash applied wet on wet.  Let the wash dry thoroughly before starting the next step.

Step 2:
Over the dry base color, paint on a varied wash of yellow ochre, burnt sienna and touches of indigo.  Refer to the reference photo for placement of the colors.

Step 3:
While this wash is still wet, sprinkle sand over the wet wash.

Step 4:
ALLOW TO DRY!  The sand and the wash must be completely dry before brushing it off of the paintings.

Note:  The grains of sand will push the paint in different directions and create the texture.

Step 5:
Use a dry brush to add details and shadows to the hook. 

Step 6:
Scrape in highlights with a utility knife.

Step 7:
Spatter across the hook will accent the aged look.  Remember when spattering to cover other parts of your painting to prevent the spatter from landing in other locations. Allow to dry. 

We will finish the painting and focus on painting the weathered wood in the next post.

Happy Painting!
Karen Cooke

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