How to Speckle Paint

Sorry I been missing for weeks. I have been working on a few new items for my shop on Etsy. I am so excited to share those with you all very soon.


So on one of the items I am working on I decided I wanted to speckle paint on the surface. Only problem with that is that I could not think of a simple way doing it. Of course, some research had to be done. Come to find out all I needed was a toothbrush. Basically. you dip you toothbrush in the paint and rub your thumb (I prefer using anther tool so my hands are not any more messier than they already are) across the bristles to fling the paint your surface. I felt really silly after reading that because I already knew that just could not recall. Thanks to this little article I found (below). There are also some other helpful little tidbits to get the right kind of speckles. Enjoy!


Painting With A Toothbrush/ Beach Rock

Posted by JT Morrow under Daily Artwork

No studio is complete without a toothbrush. Yes, you read that right.

This week I’ll show you several ways that a toothbrush can be used to improve your paintings.

Let’s start with the most obvious: speckling.  Often the best way to imitate the texture of an object is to speckle paint onto it.  Rocks and sand are two such cases and I’ve incorporated both into this painting of a rock I found along the local beach.

I start by brushing in raw sienna for the sand color, then paint the gray of the rock.  I add the white streaks and some shading onto the rock and also add the cast shadow on the sand.  Once this dries, I dip my toothbrush into burnt umber and drag my thumb across it to flick specks of paint onto the sand area.  This can really grind the paint into your thumb so, instead,  you might want to use the handle of a brush or something similar to drag across the toothbrush.  It creates a marvelous random pattern of specks.  You can control the size and nature of the specks to a degree by keeping in mind the following points:

  • The more water you add to the paint, the bigger the specks and the more semi-transparent they’ll be.
  • The less water you add to the paint, the smaller the specks will be and the more opaque.
  • A wet toothbrush will also make the paint specks bigger and more semi-transparent.
  • A wet or damp surface will make the specks have soft edges and bleed after they hit the surface

I leave a few brown specks on the rock but dab most of them off with a wet paper towel.  I let the surface dry before I speckle more paint because, as pointed out above, a wet surface will cause the paint that falls onto it to have softer edges.  This, sometimes, might be the look you’re after.  But, in order to mimic the specks on the rock, I want them to be sharp edged.

Once the surface has dried, I mix some ultramarine blue in with the burnt umber, dip my toothbrush into it and speckle it onto the rock.  Any specks that fall outside the rock area and onto the sand area, I clean up with  a damp towel.  Once the dark specks have dried, I dab my toothbrush into white paint and speckle the rock area with it.  Again, most if not all of the white specks that fall onto the sand area are quickly wiped up.

And, that’s it.  An easy way to add the perfect texture to your painting.  Compliments of the toothbrush.