Painted wine bottle

I am not an artist, so please excuse my painting skills. During my undergrad, one of my color class assignments was to copy an impressionistic painting on a wine bottle. It was the perfect assignment for a novice painter such as me. On a wine bottle, you can’t see the entire painting at once, so mistakes in proportion, etc. are obscured. Here, I copied one of my favorite Vincent van Gogh works: Wheat Field with Cypresses. I used a slightly different (and maybe better) process than the one I learned in college.

How to paint a Van Gogh on a wine bottle


  • empty wine bottle
  • glass etching cream
  • newspaper
  • latex gloves
  • latex primer or gesso
  • acrylic paint (no need to spend a lot on paint. You can mix any shade with these five Liquitex colors: cadmium red medium, cadmium yellow medium, cerulean blue, titanium white, and ivory black)
  • artist’s palette or paper plate
  • clear lacquer
  • cork (this wood-topped cork was given to me. Similar ones are sold here)


  • foam paint brush
  • various paint brushes
  • palette knife
  • painting you want to copy (optional)


1. First soak off the wine label. Wash and dry the bottle. Protect your work surface with newspaper and put on latex gloves.


2. Using a paint brush, apply a thick layer of etching cream to the entire surface of the bottle, including the top and bottom. Etching makes the glass less slick so paint will adhere better. Leave on for five minutes. (We sandblasted the bottles in college. I don’t have access to a sandblaster. If you do, go for it.)


3. Remove as much of the etching creme as you can with a paint brush and return it to the bottle. It’s reusable, and the less you rinse down the drain, the better. Glass etching creme (hydrochloric acid) is highly toxic. Don’t touch it with your bare hands. Use in a well ventilated area. Click here for a hazmat guide for hydrochloric acid. Rinse off the remaining etching creme. Do not rinse in a porcelain sink, which can damage the porcelain. A stainless steel or garage sink is fine. 


4. Paint one or two coats of primer on the entire surface of the bottle. Let dry an hour or so. We used gesso paint in college for the base coat, but I think the primer adheres better (plus it’s what I had on hand).


5. Grab your painting, paints, paintbrushes, palette and palette knife, and go for it. Don’t worry about being exact. Just have fun. If you need help mixing colors, pick up a color wheel at any art store.


6. When your painting is completely dry, protect the surface by spraying a coat of clear laquer. Be aware that the lacquer will make the colors look more saturated. Let dry, then insert a cork. After the paint is allowed to dry for at least a week, the bottle is hand washable.