DIY Van Gogh painting on a 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. (This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a small commission. You can read my full disclosure here.)
How to paint a work of art on a wine bottle
empty wine bottle
glass etching cream
newspaper or drop cloth
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 (I used this palette pad)
clear spray lacquer (for a low-sheen option, try Rust-Oleum’s clear top coat)
cork (this wood-topped wine cork was given to me. Try these bright-colored metal-topped corks)
foam paint brush
various artist paint brushes
picture of a 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 lacquer. 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.
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Made this project? Email your photo(s) to monica (at) craftynest (dot) com, and I’ll share your version here!
Lúcia Russo, an artist from Brazil who blogs at Fazemos de Conta and Lúcia M Russo, painted Van Gogh’s Starry Night on a bottle. She wrote that she had a lot of fun making it as “a present to someone special who loves Vincent.”
Lúcia also painted her own fish painting onto a bottle and this mulher sentada (seated woman) painting. She writes, “I am writing to tell you how grateful I am for showing me how to paint on a bottle. This is amazing, and now I can’t stop!” I can see why. She does beautiful work.
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