If you’re like me, you’ve probably got drawers full of jeans that have kicked the bucket, or at least only have a few more months in them. Usually, I don’t even toss them out. Like some kind of cable TV hoarder I let them pile up in my closet, gathering dust among my leftover ski gear and old socks.
The good news is, those old, blown-out and dirty jeans can now be a canvas for something completely new.
Less an art project, and more an exercise in creative abstraction, painting your jeans can be an exhilarating activity. This past weekend, with the fall winds blowing the fallen leaves around us, I set our creative director, Gabi Anderson, loose on an old pair of my J.Crew 484s.
All you’ll need for this is several colors of oil paint (only small amounts are necessary), a palette knife, other brushes if you'd like, paper towels and pair of (beaten-up) jeans. Oil paints are toxic so make sure to be in well-ventilated rooms or outside if you are able.
While there aren’t really any rules to this operation, don’t go too crazy with too many different colors. Keep them somewhat in the same range, and be sure to select a few that don’t clash with the original color of your denim (or khaki or whatever). Lastly, these paints are made of oil, which means they have great texture. While they dry way slower – think days or even weeks – the way they mix will set your jeans apart from the paint splattered jeans you bought at American Eagle back in high-school.
While this time we opted for a “traditional” mix of blues, whites and greys, if I had another shot at this (we’ll see how the jeans play first), I’d take some greens and yellows - maybe some camo - to a pair of khakis. But we’ll save that one for another time.
Finally, actually wearing these isn't for the faint of heart. Once I've dried mine, I’ll do another post highlighting how to pull them off.
So, without further ado, here are the steps to making it happen, courtesy of Gabi.
- Choose the colors that you would like to paint on your jeans and put small amounts onto a palette or in plastic cups. We choose white, several variations of blue (phthalo, cerulean, ultramarine and windsor) and a small pop of dark green.
- Choose your first color and scrape a small amount of the oil paint onto your knife and apply to the pants. With this color create your first layer of strokes, try to use a variety of directions and pressures when applying the paint in order to get a range of strokes.
- Wipe the paint off of the palette knife with a paper towel and choose another color to repeat the second step. Feel free to play around with mixing different colors. The best thing about oil paint in this process is that it takes so long to dry the paint strokes will naturally bleed and blend in to each other.
- Continue to add layers of colors until you are happy with the effect of the paints. Wipe off all the paint onto a paper towels and dispose of properly. Oil paint takes a while to dry, especially if it is thick, so hang or lay the pants in a place that is well out of the way and let dry for a few days.
- Put pants on, strut your stuff.