The Chemistry of Spray Paint Art
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Spray paint is a medium that I was introduced to by another artist and let me tell you, this is a really fun way to paint. The way that the image is formed is much different than other types of paint. You can use a clear coat to moisten your work while you are painting. Understanding negative space, lines, and shapes will help your technique. It dries very quickly, so you need to work fast. If you don’t like the way something turns out it is easy to paint over or scrape off while it is still wet. The paint will come out similar to an airbrush which makes this media perfect for stencil work. If you are just starting out don’t get frustrated. The more you work with this media, the better you will get with controlling the spray and knowing what result will come from various techniques. Experimenting with different tools and types of spray paint will add to your creation.

Spray paint is an aerosol which means you will breathe it in if you do not protect yourself. Always wear a face mask and gloves because it will get messy. Besides, the mask makes you look like a rock star and you will want gloves on to flick paint splatter on your painting. This media is best used outside not just for ventilation, but also because it will get everywhere. Keep in mind that the paint will dry faster if it is hot out. It is easy to make a lot of paintings very quickly which makes spray paint art really fun. Depending on the surface you are painting, you may need to start with primer. I like to use glossy poster board because it is inexpensive and ready to use. Understanding your tools is the key to creating the images that you want. In addition to stencils you can use cans, magazine pages, plates, putty knives, and even brushes depending on what you are trying to do.

The spray paint contains a propellant in addition to the paint. The propellant is a gas that is under so much pressure that it becomes a liquid through a process called condensation. That liquid mixes with the paint and when you press the nozzle the pressure is releases through the nozzle creating the paint mist that comes out of the can. The liquid propellant wants to be a gas at normal atmospheric pressure, so be careful because the contents are under high amounts of pressure to liquify the propellant. The ball bearing inside the can mixes the paint with the liquid propellant which is what you want. Shake well while you are working with the spray paint to get the best proportions of paint to propellant. 013

There are different types of spray paint available depending on the type of surface you are painting. General purpose and craft paint can be purchased at any hardware store. You will want to pay attention to the type of spray paint that you can get. Acrylic, latex, tempera, enamel, and oil will act very differently. Oil and water do not mix so if you decide to use paints with differing oil contents you will want to layer the higher oil content on top of paints with a lower oil content. The gloss makes a huge difference as well. If you are going to layer gloss paints start with the lowest gloss (matte) under higher gloss layers. Happy painting.

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