Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Comes to the U.S.A.
Never Prime Furniture Again!
Written by Patricia Seaman, Director/Owner of Classic Wall Finishes
Contributing writer Johnny Hales
“I’m not painting pictures, I’m painting furniture…” said Yves Saint Laurent more than two decades ago, when a reporter heard the fashion designer had taken up painting at his home in Marrakech.
Over the last twenty-plus years, painted furniture has become a mainstay in interior design. Recently, painting furniture has seen a resurgence in popularity, mostly in Europe and now in United States, thanks to England’s paint pioneer and author Annie Sloan.
Thirty years ago, Annie Sloan began as a musician for the girl band The Moodies, who were admired by the likes of Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Despite the band’s popularity she left the group to follow her true passion- painting. Furniture and walls became her canvas, and with her keen eye for color, she found the need to create historically accurate hues. Annie Sloan rapidly became one of Europe’s most sought-after talents in decorative painting and interior design.
Not happy with the paints that were on the market, Annie began looking for a manufacturer to develop her own paint line. She found a small factory in Belgium, and then collaborated with a chemist to create her famous Annie Sloan Chalk Paint line. Annie was delighted with the results of their efforts. The paint was natural and environmentally safe, contained very low VOCs, and could be blended into her historical color palettes.
Annie has not only created her own paint line, but has been a very successful author as well. She has written over 20 books on decorative painting, color theory, and interior design. She has been a guest on Martha Stewart’s Sirius radio show and featured in such publications as House Beautiful, Country Living, Cottage Style, Grand Designs, and The Daily Telegraph in London.
“Annie has been credited time and time again for kicking off the painted furniture revolution that is currently sweeping the world of interior design,” says Virginia Weathersby, owner of The Southern Institute of Faux Finishing, who is hosting Annie on the second stop of her nationwide tour. “This has been a great opportunity for professional artisans and designers across the country to see for themselves what can be done with the amazing product.”
“Using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint could not make painting furniture any easier. I also love using it as a wash for walls. I just love Annie’s line ‘It’s a girls paint but boys can use it too’ Weathersby continues.
Patty Seaman of Classic Wall Finishes explains why this paint is so special. “The desire to reuse instead of dispose has had all of us looking at all our old pieces of furniture in a new light. Why just offer wall finishes to clients when we can expand our business to include clients’ tired pieces of furniture, kitchen cabinets, chandeliers, pictures frames and concrete urns. Just look around and almost any object can be painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
The colors can be mixed into a variety of hues and be easily used to cover stain, old paint, varnish, and even wax, eliminating the need to prime first. As a result, it can dramatically cut the time needed to transform a flea market find into a treasured work of art.”
Barb Skivington, of Faux Works Studio, said, “I decided to become a stockist of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint after reading Annie’s book, ‘Quick and Easy Paint Transformations’. Most of my professional cabinets finishes involve several layers and not every artist wants to go to that much work on cabinets. Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint was the answer for a marketable paint finish that could be a great time saver for both professionals and homeowners alike.”
A Brief Conversation with Annie Sloan
Patty: When did you get interested in painting furniture?
Annie: I’ve been a painter for many years. I attended art school for 7 years and got a Fine Arts Degree in Undergraduate and Graduate school. I knew when I finished school that I did not want to pursue teaching and art was really going in the modern conceptual direction so I went into painting inside people’s homes. I would paint walls and furniture for clients. Then I began studying the art of stenciling, graining and marbling. Finally realizing there was a need for more information on the subject I began my first book on decorative painting. In all my books I always emphasize the importance of photographs showing the reader exacts steps in the painting process. And now, although my first love is painting, I’ve written over 23 books.
Patty: What inspired you to create your Chalk Paint?
Annie: I had been working with oil based paints for years and of course some water based casein paints. The casein paints were good, but they were so expensive. Finally on a teaching trip to Holland I mentioned my quest for a more economical water based paint and was introduced to a Belgium paint making company. We collaborated almost 20 years ago to create my Chalk Paint and did not, at first, realize all the wonderful qualities it possessed. I did not realize the Chalk Paint would adhere to almost any surface, that you would not have to prime or sand the surface prior to painting, that it would smooth out rough grain woods, that it would work outdoors and indoors, and now my customers call it “The World’s Best Paint”.
Patty: Is every piece of furniture in your home chalk painted?
Annie: Yes of course, and so are the Walls and some floors.
Patty: What was your most challenging furniture painting project?
Annie: An enormous 4 poster bed that had to be painted in situ and with all the furniture in the room.
Patty: What inspires you?
Annie: Colour combinations and textures, 18th century painting fabrics, decoration and furniture, France, 20th century art and design, weathered paint, Paris, teaching people and hearing what they have to say….big list!
Patty: Your colors are beautifully subtle. I know I love their heirloom, already aged color quality, with almost a built in patina in their color. Where do you get your color inspirations for your Chalk Paint?
Annie: My color inspirations come from old homes, old furniture on my travels throughout Europe. I’m aware the pigments that were used in the 18th Century and try to stick to those pigments for my palette. For some of the brighter colors I draw inspiration from the early 20th Century and Provençal decoration.
Patty: Annie, I was so inspired by your last two books, Creating the French Look and Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, are you working on any more books to show us more about Chalk Painting?
Annie: Both books are currently in their second editions and have a wealth of how to projects and directions on how to use the Chalk Paint. I always have a new idea in the pipeline but what comes out the other end is anybody’s guess!