Painting an Ombre wall in a school

Ombre is a French word for shaded. In decoration it means a gradual blending of one colour into another. Martha Stewart describes the gentle progression of colour in ombré as a transition from wakefulness to slumber……(oh, right…… as you like). St Catherines school in Launceston wanted a repaint of their main hall to have a little more interest than just a flat colour. Could I do a graduated paint finish from dark to light? Always up for a challenge, I said I could.

I have done graduated paint finishes on walls in the dim distant past using glazes, stippling brushes and/or rags and softening brushes. This all leaves you enough time to manipulate the paints before they dry, so you hopefully end up with a gradual fading of one colour into another. The school wall was much bigger, and to be done in Acrylic Eggshell; so the process would need to be a bit different.

After the school had chosen their main colour for the hall (a light blue), and there final darkest colour (a dark blue), I got on the phone to a very helpful lady at PPG (Johnstones) paints who provided free colour consultancy to provide me with 6 colour steps I could use to go from light to dark using NCS colour references. These were ordered up in tins of acrylic eggshell along with extra of the light blue to paint the other three sides of the hall.

The ombre process

The light blue was painted as normal and then I painted stripes of the consecutive colours  with a roller, deliberately doing a ragged edge so that I wouldn’t leave a definite line between colours

Starting stripes

stripes on wall

It was then time to soften the edges. For this i used a spraygun connected to a compressor, and softened each stripe up into the neighbouring one.

start softening the stripes

This requires a bit of concentration because the softening really wants to be even horizontally so that the effect isn’t lumpy. This is easier at the lower levels because you can walk along the wall holding the gun at a particular height and do the spraying in one pass at a time. Harder to do when you have to climb up and down the tower. Luckily there was a big window at the top so I only had to do either end.

Ombre wall

The finished result turned out quite well!

Published by: Colin Taylor on: February 23rd 2018

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