Trompe l’oeil Rain Barrel Tutorial

by Daisy

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I had a lot of options and a lot of ideas when it came to painting the seriously blue plastic barrel we were converting into a rain barrel.

I thought of flowers or butterflies (or both), but when it was suggested I paint the thing to look like a barrel, well, that idea made a lot of sense.

How, though?  I got an artist friend to help, (read: do it for me) and I love the results.  My contribution was to spray paint the whole barrel a solid color.  First, I used a plastic primer, which is clear, then about two coats of brown.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the plain brown, but you can use your imagination.  I also don’t have a pic of the first, base colors, but what we did was suggest with a broad, flat brush, the wooden boards of the barrel in shades of burnt umber and gray.  Then we misted a few haphazard sprays of white spray paint.  It was already starting to look barrel-y.


The next step was to take a contrasting color, we chose blue, but it really could have been just about any color, and lightly suggested hints of blue here and there to add depth and complexity to the “wood.”

The next step was to use a fine brush to draw black lines where the boards meet.  They didn’t have to be perfect, just sweeping strokes.

Then, to add the appearance of depth and realism to the boards, we painted another, light tan line beside the black lines.

Then some black for the suggestion of staining from the iron barrel hoops and water stains.

We wanted the hoops to have well-defined edges, so we masked off around them and painted them black.

Once the paint was dry, we removed the tape, added some light highlights to mimic the look of reflection on the metal hoops, and it was done!

I later coated it with a couple of coats of clear poly to protect it.

And, learn from my goof and locate your spigot on the opposite side of any lettering embossed into the plastic!

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