Painting Plaster Statues [Definitive How-To Guide]

Painting Plaster Statues

Plaster of Paris is a wonderful material to work with. It is also one of the most suitable materials to create varied textures. Being a porous material, painting plaster surfaces is one thing that most people find to be challenging. Fear not, for there are wonderful sealants and paints available to tackle this. When done right, this material gives some of the most beautiful results.

Here are the primary steps involved in painting any plaster statues-

·        Prepping the surface

·        Priming

·        Painting

·        Sealing


Prepping the plaster statue

Painting Plaster Statues

The first step is to allow the plaster surface to dry before you start painting it fully. Depending on the temperature outside the time is taken for the statue to dry completely might vary. Some types of painting techniques might ask you to work on damp surfaces. It is better to let the statue dry entirely once and then dip it in water if you need moisture. For most techniques, you need a dry surface to work on. Drying the statue ultimately also makes it easier for the statue to retain its shape and intricate textures better.


Another part of prepping the statue is to smooth out the finish. You can use a fine-grit sanding paper to even out the edges. Be careful when you are working in areas with detailed textures like the hair on human subjects, for example. Use a smooth dusting cloth to remove all fine dust from the surface before you proceed to the next step.



This is the step where the statue surface is sealed so as to keep moisture away from damaging the surface. Encaustic paints, staining techniques as well as the watercolor painting of the plaster statue might not call for priming it before painting. For all other types of paints, it would be good to start with a suitable primer. The kind of primer you use also depends on where the statue is intended to be placed. 


Polyurethane is the most popular choice for statues that are placed outdoor. There are ready to use primer sprays that are great to work on plaster statues. These are convenient sprays that can form a waterproof shield on the statues and also help improve the finish of the paint. You can spray one or more coat of this primer. If you choose to use multiple coats, let the previous coat dry completely before you apply the next one.


Acrylic gesso is another popular option for priming a plaster statue. The use of primer is mainly to ensure the smooth application of paint. The other significant role of the primer is to prevent moisture from causing cracks or chipping of the surface of the statue. If you choose a heavy primer like polyurethane and if you have applied multiple layers, make sure that there are no bubbles on the surface.


Tackle bubbling and use fine sandpaper to even out the primer layer if required. Use gentle pressure so that the abrasion doesn’t entirely remove the primer coat.


Painting the plaster statue


Painting Plaster Statues

Once your primer is dry, then comes the actual painting process. Gather all your brushes, sponges, and other painting tools. The type of paint you choose determines effect created and the prepping and finishing steps involved. Here are some of the popular choices of paints for plaster statue-


Staining plaster statues are for obtaining subtle results with deeper pigments and better focus on the textures. In this case, the original composition created with plaster is left untouched. For better results with staining using the stains directly on the statue without using a primer layer. There are many types of stains available besides the commonly used wooden stains. Some even use organic stains from fruit extracts etc.


The most popular types of paints that are used for painting plaster statues are acrylic paints. These are easily available in the market, and you would also find ample variety in terms of the colors and hues. Therefore, creating different highlights and contours with the magic of mixing and matching colors is also an easy job.


The texture of acrylic paints allows the flexibility to water them down if required. Whatever be the color scheme you choose, start with one uniform coat of base color.


Most people use white as the base color for plaster statues. This coat goes directly over the primer. Once the base color is dry, you can use appropriate colors for the respective parts. Depending on the relief and the detailing on the statue, you can choose the right brush size for accurate results.


You can also easily create shadow effects with the use of black paints mixed with the corresponding color on the surface. Acrylic paints are inexpensive but can cause professional finishes. The quick-drying property of these paints also makes them popular.


If you need refined professional finish oil paint are also easy choices. These are slightly more expensive than acrylic colors and the drying time is even longer. However, the results are more vivid, and these paints do not fade that easily.


Sealing the paint


After painting the statue, the final step of sealing helps prevent the fading and bleeding of colors. It can also help prevent the paint from dissolving if the statue comes into contact with water. Most types of primers can also be used as sealants. Polyurethane is again the most popular choice for outdoor statues.


This also has the benefit of preventing the statue from yellowing and thus keeping it looking as good as new for a long time. Clear acrylic spray and Shellac can also be used as sealants after painting the statue. A wax-based finishing coat can lock moisture away from penetrating the statue.


Besides, the painting technique and the paints used the tools used for painting, and the colors chosen can all influence the final results. Therefore, work on a good color scheme and pick the right painting tools based on your experience. The tints decided the temperature of the color scheme, dominating colors and shadow effects all put together to determine how the colors pop.

Recent Posts