Spray Paint Art

  • Learn More About Spray Paint Art

    Ed Seymour couldn’t have predicted the direction spray paint has taken—such as entire neighborhoods covered in graffiti and street art—but his 1949 invention started it all. As a paint salesman, he wanted to show off a coating for radiators when his wife suggested he make a spray gun out of an aerosol can. The prototype was a hit, and soon his company began manufacturing cans. Home furnishing companies and car manufacturers were quick to adopt this technology.

    Protesters and vandals picked up the torch in the ‘60s and ‘70s as spray paint’s concealability and easy-to-use system fit anti-establishment movements. By the ‘90s, graffiti was becoming increasingly sophisticated, and street art was selling at auctions for six and seven figures. Large-wall graffiti doesn’t exactly suit the living room, so many artists began spray-painting on canvas or metal sheets to sell on the street. Since then, spray paint art has moved into mainstream culture as a fully recognized and appreciated art form.

    Spray paint art uses aerosol paint cans, plastic bags, stencils, gloves, and layering techniques to take advantage of spray paint’s untamed nature. Possible surfaces include glass, poster board, canvas, wood, sheet metal, and assorted items such as vinyl records and street signs.

    Learning spray paint art takes time and practice. Knowing a few techniques can help you become a better artist and gain a deeper appreciation for the artwork you enjoy.

    • Textures in spray paint art add depth and dimension. Artists frequently create them with poster boards or plastic bags. A piece of poster board dragged across the artwork’s surface smears and blends the paint. Repeatedly layering a plastic bag over sections creates random ridges. Bags also lift some paint to reveal lower levels of color, as when making mountains or nebulas.
    • Flicking paint is common in spray paint space art to create stars and break up the all-consuming blackness of space. Using a plastic glove, flick paint for random dots. Vary the look by changing the pressure and amount of paint on your finger. Space and sci-fi scenes have become a popular jumping-off point for beginners. Stencils add levels of detail that are hard to produce otherwise. Stencil spray paint art can be one full stencil cut out and sprayed over, or partial stencils used to create defined lines. Exacto knives are great for cutting stencil paper to get clean-looking lines and cover areas while you work on other sections. For example, consider coloring and texturing planets and moons first when painting them. Then, cover them with a circular lid and spray over the black space background, later revealing your celestial surprises.
    • Increasing your spray speed adds a misty effect behind the forefront to add significant depth to your drawing—or to add atmosphere, like fog rising over a calm lake.
    • Etching and highlighting help bring rock formations to life and make convincing water ripples in a landscape scene. Use a palette knife to manipulate the paint to suit your needs, whether you're highlighting a mountain ridge or adding a tree.