A splatter effect adds a touch of grunge to your spray paint art projects, but it's not always easy to create the desired splats using the aerosol can with its original nozzle. Instead, spray some of the paint into the paint cap or directly onto a paintbrush and use a brush to splatter the paint. Another option is to use a specialty needle nozzle that releases a fine but sloppy stream of paint.
Spray paint splatter with brushes
The easiest way to create spray paint splatter over a relatively large area of your painting is by adding a brush to your spray paint tool kit. Shake the spray paint can a minute or so, as recommended on the label; then spray a small amount of the paint into the lid that goes with the can. Create just a small pool of paint in the lid; then quickly dip a paint brush into the wet paint before the paint dries. Another option is to spray the paint directly onto the tip of the paintbrush, but this may be less effective, as dipping the brush offers more control.
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Quickly flick the paintbrush toward the art piece, making sure the area behind the artwork is covered with a tarp, unless your canvas is huge or is a wall on which the extra splatter will become part of the art. Flick more paint from various angles to create a paint-in-motion effect, which could also look like blood splatter for a Halloween art piece. Small amounts of paint on the brush create fine paint splatter, while more spray paint on the paint brush bristles creates more of a paint splat or paint splash effect when you fling your arm toward the art.
Experiment with other brushes, such as a nylon-bristle scrub brush or an old toothbrush, to create abstract paint splatter effects. Dip the brush bristles into paint; then run your finger over the bristles while wearing a rubber glove. This works best if your canvas or art piece is horizontal or if it's relatively small and you hold the brush quite close to the art. With any paint splatter effects, it's best to practice a few times on some scrap cardboard or paper before attempting splatters on an in-progress art piece.
Specialty aerosol paint can nozzles
As graffiti and spray paint artists know, different spray paint nozzles, which are referred to as "caps" by the companies that make them, release the spray in different widths and shapes, much like different paint brushes. Needle caps look like regular aerosol can spray nozzles but have a short straw attached to the front. These caps are designed to create thin lines similar to paint strokes for detailing. However, holding the button halfway down instead of fully down creates paint splatter. If you use black spray paint, the needle cap may be used to create ink splatter and ink splash effects.
Try various paint cap sizes on scrap material, such as holding the can very close to the canvas for blobs with a fat cap or pressing the fat cap partially down to create spray paint drips coming from color splashes used as design elements in your art piece. While some spray paint caps are fairly universal, they are designed for artist-grade spray paint cans and might not fit on some of the aerosol cans found in home improvement stores. Ask the art supply retailer if any specific spray cap fits your brand of aerosol spray paint.
Mix and match paint splatter effects on your art piece by using assorted spray paint colors and different splat techniques for abstract art details.