Apparently one of the big trends this season is animal-print clothing and accessories, and I have to say that even in my non-urban corner of the country, I see women carrying very cool oversize handbags with a giraffe-hide pattern done in black and white and highlighted with dark red trim.
I couldn’t imagine myself being able to paint a giraffe pattern, but I thought I might have some luck doing zebra stripes, especially if I had a pattern to trace onto the shoe. First I started with a shoe that had plenty of flat space for working on. These black slip-ons of manmade leather are a perennial at Payless, where I’ve bought several pairs over the years. (They also have a really nice leather version — unusual for Payless.)
First I painted the shoe Metallic Rust, because I wanted my black stripes to have a tawny brown background.
Next I went hunting online for patterns of zebra stripes. Wow, what an adventure! Too many choices, many of which were stylized, geometric or otherwise Not What I Had In Mind. So I decided to look for stencils and found one I really liked by a British company, Stewart Gill.
I purchased the stencil and tried to use it to draw lines on the shoe with a chalk pencil. I have to confess that this didn’t work so well! I ended up with a whole lot of little lines and I couldn’t tell which were the background and which were the stripes….
So I gave up and decided to use the stencil as a visual guide and just wing it! I found a paint brush in my toolkit with long thin bristles called a #1 Script Liner. It seemed to me this would help me draw long lines, and I think it did, but an artist friend, Lisa Hoffman, just laughed at me and said I would have done just as well with an ordinary brush. Geez… I LOVE having special tools for special uses! What a wet blanket!!
Anyway, that’s the brush I used and here’s the result.
I confess that after doing the black stripes, I went back and did some touch ups with the Metallic Rust, but not a lot. It turned out to be a whole lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m famous for saying, “I can’t paint,” meaning I can’t paint a tree that looks like a tree or a cat that looks much like a cat. But I’m willing to admit now, I sure can paint stripes!
As you can see from this photo of the front of the shoe, I decided my stripes would run at a diagonal and I started them not at the very toe, but partly up the upper (where the orange arrow is pointing)and worked up and down from there. I did this to establish the angle I wanted the stripes to go.
I spent a fair amount of time looking closely at the stencil, noticing where the stripes forked, how they varied from wide to thin, and how some of them tailed off in the middle of the pattern.
As I worked, I didn’t think the stripes were actually very good, but once I got done, WOW! My very own tawny zebra shoes. I’m pleased.
I also fiddled around with a photo of the stripes I painted in my paint program so you could get a taste of how cool zebra stripes look in black and a brighter color.
Check these out! And you could paint both the stripes and the background in colors instead of sticking with black stripes. If it’s helpful, click on the photo with the arrow, print it out, and use it as a guide for painting zebra stripes. Better yet, experiment on your own and discover how easy it is to do.