All About Chalk Paint Techniques- Creating Awesome Backgrounds

Hello friends ….Hope everyone is creating  bright and colourful projects with the new happy colours of Little Birdie chalk paints around. The current monthly Blog Challenge is also about new Little Birdie Chalk Paint shades. Do enjoy playing along just as I am enjoying working with them! Honestly bright colours are not my comfort zone, but doing something that’s not you…. always brings a new learning and excitement!

Today’s post is about different techniques that can be done with chalk paints. These techniques help to create beautiful backgrounds for decoupage, mix media or any other craft form that you enjoy. I have six techniques to share with you! So sit back, relax and read along…

Before , I take you through each technique, here’s some useful information about chalk paints.

  • Chalk paints are acrylic paints with a chalky matte finish. No stickiness at all. This makes them great for furniture, box edges …no jamming of lids, drawer edges etc with them.
  • They can be used on all surfaces, directly without applying gesso.
  • They have a great coverage and are fast drying.
  • They can be mixed with each other to get different shades. Once dry they can be layered with other colours.
  • They can be mixed with gel mediums, texture paste , retarders and other mediums as well.
  • They can be easily sanded to get a further smooth finish and also to get an aged, distressed look. (As you like it)
  • Great for dry brushing.

Itsy Bitsy has recently added  bright new colours to their home brand Little Birdie’s chalk paint range. Do check them out, its necessary to use the new shades for the ongoing monthly Blog Challenge.

Also note all the new products come with a QR code. Scanning the QR code takes you to the video link that tells you more about the product and ways to use them. This is a great unique feature introduced by Itsy Bitsy, which will help all crafters. Do check it out !!!

Coming to the techniques. I have used some scrap MDF pieces to demonstrate each technique. I covered all the pieces with white gesso. You do not need to cover with gesso, if using chalk paints. However, I had some plans to decoupage and use other mediums as well thus my first step was not to use chalk paints at the very beginning. I covered each piece with gesso first, using synthetic hair, flat brush. Gesso from the store has good consistency and is of  great quality.

TECHNIQUE 1 – To create Sponged and Concrete Effect

I have used chalk paints – Marsh green, Misty fog and Rainy day for this panel. Have used soft gel medium matte, texture Sand and Cheesecloth as well.

Here is a step wise picture of the process.

Step1 – Cover the MDF base with chalk paint Rainy Day, using flat brush. This shade of grey compliments the bright Marsh Green very well.

Step 2- Once the grey shade dries completely, apply the chalk paint -Marsh Green, using a small  piece of cheese cloth. Apply randomly, however covering all areas. This creates a lovely sponged effect. Whenever I use sponge to do the same, I do not like the amount of colour the sponge soaks in…I feel it is a huge wastage. This method uses less amount of paints, gives a great mild texture  and  gives you  a coloured piece of cheese cloth that you can use in your project as well !

Step 3 – Once the green shade dries, add  concrete texture effect on the borders.  For this mix chalk paint – Misty Fog with soft gel medium matte and texture sand. Soft gel medium helps the mixture to adhere. Apply where desired with brush or a palette knife. If using brush, clean the brush  immediately after use. The mixture dries fast once applied. Later highlight the raised areas (created due to sand) with chalk paint Tattered Lace and Charcoal. Rub the colours with your fingers for highlighting rather than with a brush. Step 4-  Embellish the panel  as per your choice. I have used the recently launched 3 D embellishments. They are very pretty and enhance the creation. Embellishing should always be done in a balanced way, keeping a focal pint in mind. Have also decoupaged a piece of tissue,  added a sentiment and black paint splats. Adding splats bind the creation.  Here’s the final look.

TECHNIQUE  2 – Create a rust effect- Colour Layering.

The new Chalk Paint shade- Terracotta is just perfect to create a rusty effect. I have combined this colour with  another new colour Tuscan Teal. The combination gives a patina touch. To demonstrate the technique, I have created a mixed media base.

Step 1 – On the MDF piece covered with white gesso, glue pieces of bottle caps, chipboard gear shapes, corrugated paper, decoupage paper, some bamboo skewers, toothpicks, broken watch strap pieces etc.  You can use anything that’s available with you. Make sure to create a good composition with whatever you use.Step 2- Cover everything again with white gesso. Add Texture Sand at some places where you want the rust effect to be highlighted. You can add sand when gesso is wet. It will adhere as the gesso dries. Step 3 –  Cover everything with chalk paint Terracotta. Once it dries, add layer of chalk paint Muted Teal. When this colour is still wet , wipe off some amount of the colour using a cloth. This will show the underlying Terracotta colour at places. Continue this kind of layering, wiping each time. Next colour used is Tuscan Teal. Add brown and black on edges and in gaps for shadow effect, before adding the shade of teal. The picture below shows the order of adding colours. Step 4- Highlight the raised areas and corners with chalk paint Terracotta to get the rusted effect. Also some highlighting is done with chalk paint-Fortune Cookie for balance. Finally add a sentiment, black splats, random script stamping and stitched lines.  A worn out, rusted  piece is ready…..just with chalk paint colours layering and highlighting !!!

TECHNIQUE 3-  Background with Texture tool and Chalk paints.

For this piece, I have used the new chalk paint colour Passionate Plum. It is a lovely, intense colour….the name is so apt !! Chalk paints are fast drying. In order to use them with texture tool, you need to add a retarder to it. Adding the retarder slows down the drying time, enabling one to create background effects with texture tools. I have used the Camel retarder for acrylics and Texture Triangle tool for this piece.

Texture Triangle is a wonderful tool that enables to create beautiful backgrounds. It is available in two designs – Texture Triangle -Slit tooth  and Texture Triangle- Slab tooth . The tools can be used with texture paste, gesso, modelling paste and other mediums as well.  You have to just hold the tool and drag it over the medium, in the direction  you like to create patterns. The tool has  teeth on the base and on the sides of the triangle. They are of different sizes and create effects accordingly.  Isn’t  it  a easy to use tool? The best part is,  it comes at a really affordable price with  infinite possibilities.The picture above shows the process-

Step 1 – Cover the MDF base with chalk paint Tattered Lace, using flat synthetic hair brush. This is the colour that I wanted to be seen through the dark Plum colour to  be applied above.

Step 2- When the Tattered Lace dries completely, apply a layer of chalk paint -Passionate Plum, mixed with the Camel Retarder, again with flat brush. The proportion is 3/4 chalk paint colour and 1/4 reatrder.  As the colour is mixed with retarder, there is enough time, to use texture triangle tool  on it to create the desired pattern.  If you are not happy with the pattern created, go over it with flat brush to erase it and create a new one. The retarder added to the paint allows you to do so easily 2- 3 times, as the paint does not dry and the retarder also adds volume to the paint.

Step 3-  Once the desired pattern is created, let it dry completely. Next I decoupaged some fussy cut pieces from the new decoupage papers. The papers are 70 gsm as a result the pieces do not pop out and merge well with the background. I have used decoupage glue matte for doing so.

Step 4- Embellish as desired. Do not overdo.  I have used a chipboard piece and again the new 3 D foil  embellishment from the store.  I really loved this pack. It has flowers with a hint of foil and great sentiments. Here’s the final look…Smile along the way !!!!

TECHNIQUE 4 – Fabric Effect with Dry Brushing

This is the simplest and quickest. Dry brushing means applying minimal  colours using a flat, hard bristle brush.  As the name suggests, the brush has to be completely dry and also the paint. Do not mix water at all. The brush has to be loaded with very little paint and that also only the top ends of the bristle. Rub the brush, dipped in paint first on craft mat or newspaper before applying on the surface.  This removes excess paint if any. You need to give feather light strokes…just touch and lift types. So here is the order of dry brushing colours

Step 1- Cover the MDF piece with white gesso, using flat brush and let it dry completely. Then dry brush with colours moving from light to dark.

Step 2 – Dry brush with chalk paint – Lemon Chiffon in vertical direction.

Step 3 – Dry brush with chalk paint – Orange Splash in vertical direction.

Step 4- Dry brush with chalk paint – Tuscan Teal in vertical direction.

Step 5-  Repeat the dry brushing with the above three colours in the same order, but this time in horizontal direction. This creates a fabric weave kind of pattern. Remember do not wash the brush when switching from one colour to another. Only remove the earlier colour if any by rubbing on newspaper.

Step 7- Enhance the fabric look with stenciling and embellishing. I have chosen the leaf stencil and used a co ordinating Bubblegum Pink and Gold colour for stenciling.

I plan to use this one which looks like the fabric of a sari, as a fridge magnet. 

TECHNIQUE 5- Background with Tissue paper 

I have used Deep Sea Blue for this one. My idea was to give it a leather like look…did not look much like one, may be using different colours would have helped. However it  is an easy way to create a background. Here is the process.Step 1- Cover the MDF piece with white gesso, using flat brush and let it dry completely.

Step 2- Adhere pieces of ordinary white tissue paper, forming creases, using decoupage glue matte.

Step 3- Colour the whole piece with chalk paint- Deep Sea Blue and let it dry completely.

Step 4- Highlight the raised areas (tissue creases ) using chalk paint Rainy Day, Misty Fog and little black. Its better to highlight by rubbing the colour with hands than brush.

Step 5- Embellish as per your choice. I have attached a wooden peg for clipping a message to this magnet. 

TECHNIQUE 6 – Distressing using wax technique. 

This is the most popular way to create an aged, distressed look in a jiffy! Great for decor pieces and furniture. For this I have used two chalk paint  colours- Chocolate Truffle and Orange Splash… they look good together !!!!

Have explained this technique in my earlier post. Will run through it quickly.

Step 1 – Cover the MDF piece with chalk paint Chocolate Truffle (light brown),  basically a base colour that you want to be seen through the top coat of colour. The colour has to be applied using flat brush, then let it dry completely.

Step 2- Rub candle wax on places where you want the base brown colour to be seen. Generally apply it on edges and randomly in between.

Step 3 – Apply the top chalk paint  shade Orange Splash with flat brush and let it dry completely.

Step 4- Now rub medium density sand paper on areas where wax was applied. The wax resist the top (orange )colour and hence it comes off easily when sanded. This shows the underlying base colour (brown), creating a great distressed look.

Step 5- Embellish as desired. I have done some stamping in black for interest and have used the amazing new 3 D burlap embellishment.  Have a look. 

So here are some  background techniques using chalk paints. I hope they will be useful to you in your projects. I have varnished each piece with water based, decor varnish matte from the store.  In each panel , the embellishments are attached with silicon glue. Its a strong glue, good for all kind of materials. 

As I mentioned earlier, bright is not me….but I totally enjoyed using the new bright Chalk  Paint shades….My learning – Do not turn away  from bright colours. Use them in balanced way to add cheer and warmth !

Looking forward to your creations. Its a pleasure and an enriching experience to go through all the blog challenge entries.

Happy Crafting

Create, Express, Enjoy !!

Vaishali Khandwala.

List of products used











  1. This is superb Vaishali….thanks for sharing such detailed explanation…feeling inspired already 🙂

  2. Wo it’s so amazing… thank you so much for such a good tutorial.. didnt know we could do so many techniques using chalk Paints

  3. Wonderful post and amazing creations Vaishali. Its mazing that how you have created such beautiful articles using chalk paints and took it the next level. I love the idea of using cheese cloth to create texture. It HSS resolved my concern that color got wasted when we use it with sponge. Thanks for sharing this very useful tutorial.

    1. Thanks a lot Vidhu.. yes I too have been bothered with wastage of colours when using sponge . Cheese cloth does a great job

  4. Wow what a fantastic post Vaishali Khandwala Kaji you are such a amazing teacher and as all said so patient too,all the projects are so beautiful with super cool textures you are rocking like always

  5. This is such an amazing post, love the 6 distinct cards you have created using Chalk paints & incorporating various tips & techniques! Absolutely loved it Vaishali & thanks for all the hard work in creating this beauties!

    1. Thanks a lot Rashmi…. enjoyed working with beautiful chalk paints in different ways…. thankful that I have the opportunity to work with amazing products from the store and share my work with everyone

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