Fall Squirrel Decorative Painting Plaque

Fall Squirrel Decorative Painting Plaque

Posted by DecoArt on Oct 23rd 2014

Recreate the bushy-tailed squirrel on a plaque or other piece with this decorative painting technique.


    • water container
    • palette or plastic plate
    • paper towels
    • stylus or pencil
    • #3 round brush
    • 3/4" flat brush
    • fine-grit sandpaper
    • baby wipes
    • #3/0 liner brush
    • clean round pencil eraser
    • mini mop brush
    • brown paper bag
    • white transfer paper
    • #8 filbert brush
    • 8.75" x 11.25" wooden sculptured oval
    • 3/8" rake brush
    • table easel
    • self-adhesive felt sheet in any complementary color
    • clock winder-shaped hanging screw



    Mara Trumbo was born in Italy, grew up in British Southern Africa (Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa), and is now a proud American artist, living in Rugby, TN. A teacher who travels and works both in the US and Europe, she preaches the gospel of “painting techniques made easy”. To learn more

    1. Preparation: Examine wood piece for any flaws. Fill wood knotholes or hairline cracks with Americana Wood Filler and let dry.
    2. Sand surface and edges to remove any bumps or splinters. Wipe clean with baby wipe.
    3. Load 3/4″ flat brush with Multi-Purpose Sealer to coat surface top as well as sculpted edges. Let dry thoroughly before proceeding.
    4. Use 3/4″ flat brush to paint sky area Grey Sky, adding gradual amount of Wasabi Green on left and mixing in a small amount of Light Buttermilk as you come down toward bottom of surface. Let dry.
    5. Clouds Add a little Lemon Yellow at horizon line and walk unwashed brush towards right side of sky using semi-circular motion brush strokes to simulate clouds. (This is transparent color, which will allow some Wasabi Green to shine through.)
    6. Load 3/4″ flat brush with Multi-Purpose Sealer and load Light Buttermilk on left side of brush only. Stroke it on palette to obtain effect of bright white on top gradually becoming “milky” to clear at other end. Use this to add three “silver linings” to clouds by holding brush almost flat next to surface with white facing upwards and clear assimilating to light yellow color underneath. (Clouds look more natural if they become smaller towards horizon line.)
    7. Squirrel: Trace outline of squirrel onto oval. Leave interior design lines until Honey Brown undercoating of entire silhouette is dry.
    8. Reposition pattern over silhouette and trace other details on squirrel as well as contours of branches, leaves, acorns, and berries. (Leave off area on left as it is better done in freehand.)
    9. Taking #3/0 liner brush, pick up dab of Warm White and delineate eye area surrounding eye socket. Let dry.
    10. When dry, paint pupil Lamp Black. Do not attempt to place highlights on eye until Lamp Black is totally dry.
    11. Since you already have Lamp Black on brush, paint nose shadows and little question mark-shaped inner ear. Mix a little Napa Red with Warm White to obtain soft pink and paint area around inner ear and tips of ear, ensuring you leave contour of base color around edges of each color.
    12. Lightly brush thin coat of Drying Time Extender on squirrel.
    13. With 3/8″ rake brush loaded with Warm White, gently stoke in fur in highlighted areas in middle of tail, round edges of face, tummy, and, legs. (Remember to stroke in direction in which fur grows.)
    14. Continue painting fur with surrounding color, Milk Chocolate, followed by darker Burnt Sienna, overlapping areas between colors with soft strokes of paint slightly diluted to ink consistency. Accentuate individual hairs with #3/0 liner brush, extending some hairs outside tracing area onto background.
    15. With #3/0 liner brush loaded with Milk Chocolate, paint crescent moon inside eye socket at bottom of pupil. Use same color to extend eye area in tear duct portion of eye and around inner ear. Create darker shadows with Burnt Sienna, where tail meets body; under legs; between back leg and belly; and also at ears, mouth, paws, and claws.
    16. Background: Distant trees on left can be free-handed. They are created by double-loading #1 mini mop brush with light and dark color and pouncing gently in circular lotion to form foliage clumps. Use following combinations: Napa Red with Warm White, for first tree; Burnt Orange with Warm White, second lower tree; and mixture of Hauser Medium Green with Warm White and dab of Napa Red, bushes below trees.
    17. With #3/0 liner brush, paint faint tree trunks in any brown, cream, and/or golden color.
    18. Middle and foreground are series of horizontal strokes with paint left on #1 mini mop brush and Traditions Satin Varnish to give it watercolor effect. Use some of this “dirty” color to create shadows under squirrel as well.
    19. Oak Branch and Leaves: Load #3/0 liner brush with Burnt Sienna on one side and Burnt Umber on other. Starting at bottom of oak tree branch and holding brush upside-down, travel upwards shaking hand to create “gnarly” effect of wood texture. (Don’t forget as you come to end of each branch to release pressure on brush and create thinner lines by finishing off on tip as if brush is only caressing surface.
    20. Leaves are done with #8 filbert brush multi-loaded with each of autumn colors listed. (Load brush for every stroke so you have neat edge and start from outside pulling in towards center.)
    21. Create veins in leaves with inky, watered down Burnt Umber on #3/0 liner brush. (You might also use this color to emphasize shadows in every “U” fold of each leaf.)
    22. Acorns: Paint tops Burnt Sienna and curved lattice pattern on them with slightly diluted Burnt Umber on #3/0 liner brush.
    23. Nut is Milk Chocolate, highlighted with Warm White.
    24. Finishing touches: Check highlights and shadows, and reinforce these where necessary.
    25. With #3/0 liner brush loaded with Wasabi Green, follow contour of sculptured surface piece. (If you smudge top in any part, just remove with finger while still wet. Let dry.
    26. When dry, double-load 3/4″ flat brush with Traditions Satin Varnish and Butterscotch. Go over Wasabi Green with Butterscotch side of brush facing up next to painted surface, and clear down slowly shading into Wasabi Green. Finger-wipe any smudges on painted surface. Let dry completely.
    27. When this is totally dry, load #3 round brush with Glorious Gold and paint thin line round curved bottom edge.
    28. Sign piece and let dry completely.
    29. Brush on extra coat of Mulit-Purpose Sealer; let dry. Insert pocket-watch winder hardware at top.


    Squirrel And Nuts Pattern