Cardinal, Watercolour on ostrich eggshell
Cardinal, Watercolour on ostrich eggshell

Did you know you aren’t restricted to traditional supports when painting art? Stretched canvas, wood panel and paper are traditional supports, and they are excellent choices. They provide ideal surfaces with a degree of tooth that suits the artist’s preference, and when properly prepared and stored will last centuries.

However, if properly prepared, many objects can also provide excellent surfaces for your artistic expressions. Here are some fresh, new ideas for painting art that I’ve experimented with:


I’ve prepared this eggshell as a painting support by poking holes in each end with a darning needle (for those of you unfamiliar with sock repair, a darning needle is a thick, strong steel needle about two inches long – I know, you’re thinking “Who repairs socks in this century?”).

Then, use your breath to blow the insides of the egg out through the bottom hole. This will take a lot of force , yet you still have to be somewhat gentle out of concern for breaking the thin shell. This may take a few eggs for you to get the hang of it, but if you want to make an omelet you have to crack some eggs. You don’t have to do it eggs-actly as I do. Okay, I’ll stop now.

Rinse off your egg and pat dry. The shell is a bit slick so I covered it with a coat of white gesso. Gesso is the same stuff that is used on stretched canvas to prepare the surface and gives it that nice grippy, dull look. Now your egg is ready to be painted. I suggest acrylic paint.

Terracotta Planters

Terracotta is normally very porous except where it’s been glazed. I have had much success painting on the terracotta saucers that go under plant pots to catch water. I prepare the surface first by coating it with acrylic gel medium. Once dry you could “white” the surface if you prefer a white ground by adding a coat of thinned white acrylic paint. I’ve treated it as a tinted ground and just chose subject matter that suited the toned ground. Take a look at this work in progress:

Miniature Paintings on Coins

For a change of pace try painting in miniature. It’s a fun challenge. I’ve used coins of all sizes. Below is a photo of a penny and a dime, painted on with acrylic paint.

I just put a coat of acrylic gel medium on the coins and let it dry. You’ll need very tiny brushes. To get fine lines use a straight pin instead of a brush. You could also try painting miniatures on pop bottle caps, flip them over and paint inside the cap. It comes in it’s own tiny picture frame.

By Tanya Petruk

Movie Poster Restorer, Fine Artist

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