Q: I'm intrigued by some unusual kinds of wall treatments that I recently saw in a decorating magazine. Can you tell me more about these painting techniques known as sponging, pouncing and ragging? I'd be interested in trying one of them in my own living room.
A: The painting methods you mention are now quite fashionable. There are many others, too, that are described in the literally dozens of books that have been written on this general subject.
My first bit of advice, therefore, is that you see what's available in your local library or book shop. Authors who specialize in the field can tell you much more than I can about sponging, pouncing and ragging.
But while I'm an amateur in this area, I'm just as intrigued by these beautiful techniques as you are. So let me share some of what I do know about the overall art of painting an interior surface.
Without a doubt, paint is the most versatile material that can be used in designing a room. Besides offering an infinite array of color choices, paint creates various perceptions of depth and texture. It's also a superb camouflaging tool.
With enough paint and talent, it's almost possible to turn a warehouse into a palace. Look what's been done in the setting shown in the photo. This totally painted interior features
a gilded sideboard, textured and stenciled wall designs, and even a trompe l'eoil mosaic painted on the floor. This is a production of Evergreene Painting Studios of New York, one of the most prestigious firms of its kind in the country.
Having shown you what's possible, I must now inject a word of caution. Even if you're quite confident of your ability with a brush and roller, this is not the sort of task to be undertaken lightly. A professional decorative painter is closely acquainted with modern materials, such as industrial paints, as well as with their various chemical patinas. Even the most knowledgeable interior designers, who are able to visualize the finished effect, usually rely on a trained craftsman to do the actual painting.
My intention, however, is not to discourage you from doing it yourself. I believe in the principle of self-reliance, though I also feel obliged to warn of the difficulties in attempting such a project.
Here are some very basic instructions provided by Janet Pope, noted decorative painter in Baltimore. She also suggests, by the way, that you consult your local paint store, which may turn out to be a treasure trove of information.
The first step is to clean a wall and carefully paint it with a base coat. Since as many as three or four different colors may be used, it's best to apply the lightest color as the base. Once that has dried, the following techniques may be attempted:
*Dragging: Drag a brush at an angle over the base coat in order to produce a stripe-like effect.
*Pouncing: Over a wet painted surface, pounce with a clean and dry brush to create a stippled finish.
*Sponging: Apply a different paint color on top of the dry base coat. Then dab the surface with a natural sponge loaded with the desired color, producing a mottled look.
*Ragging: While the second coat is still wet, roll a crumpled cotton rag with no color over the entire surface. This will result in a leather-like finish.