I found myself in the middle of a home remodel. When removing some of the drywall, I was pleasantly surprised to find the old chimney tucked behind the wall. I loved the colors and the character of the bricks. After they were cleaned, they were beautiful and would become a nice focal element. However, this old chimney had been a working chimney. There was a round patch were the stove pipe was cut into the bricks and huge, black drips of creosote running down the front side. I was assured that the hole could be patched with matching brick and the creosote could be easily removed. However, the patched area was bright and “new” looking and the creosote stain could not be diminished!
The men had sealed the bricks with a coat of acrylic matte Seal-Krete. I chose matte to keep the antique look of age.
I was not discouraged, because I have a secret friend that comes to my aid whenever I run into a problem. I grabbed a selection of DecoArt Americana colors; Terra Cotta, Heritage Brick, Mississippi Mud, Driftwood, Asphaltum, Burnt Umber, Sand, Antique Maroon, and a few others. I used an old scruffy 1/2″ flat shader, a new brush will be ruined with the rough brick texture. I studied the bricks and realized using pure color would be too strong and bold. Each brick was a myriad of color and tones.
First I painted over the black creosote with Terra Cotta to cover the darkness, feathering out the edges. When dry, I picked up a touch of the orange and/or brown to drybrush randomly over the brick, making sure to blend the colors so they would not appear spotty. I didn’t use water or clean the brush between colors. Wipe the loaded brush over a paper towel before drybrushing and between colors. If the color was too strong, I picked up Sand or Mississippi Mud. The key is to evaluate the color of each brick, blending with a continuity of colors. Look how a single brick can go from a muted tan to a deep, rich rust! I enjoyed playing with a palette of color to create the tone and flavor of each brick. Patience is needed as it takes many, many layers to replicate the aged look of the brick.
The best part is the fact that there are no mistakes. If I didn’t like the look, I would simply drybrush with another layer of color, brighter or quieter, as needed. I even painted the grout! The new grout was very clean and gray, I wanted that dull, smoky color. First I tried some greys, but, surprisingly, found that Sand and Asphaltum were perfect. Not a mix, but a touch of both colors on a dirty brush, then a drybrush over the grout until the desired results were achieved.
One of the bricks had been broken and the hole was patched with grout. Check out the “repair” job I did with paint! I figured anything would look better that an empty spot. Again, I started with a drybrush of Terra Cotta, then started toning it down with Mississippi Mud, Espresso, Heritage Brick, following the pattern of the other half of the brick. I matched up the grout and applied another layer of sealer.
I didn’t limit the touch ups to the damaged and repaired areas, there were several bricks that were dull or I just didn’t like the color. The more I played, the braver I became! This was a fun project and I love the results!
The next time a project seems beyond hope, just look for alternative solutions. When I told the guys working on the bricks that I could paint them, the disbelief look on their faces was priceless. However, the next day when they saw the faux painted bricks, they were beyond amazed. They couldn’t believe the transformation and wanted to take pictures.
Taking art off the studio table can be rewarding and exciting. I encourage you to adventure into new areas, be courageous, and reap the benefits of creativity!