It was 1990 when Annie Sloan launched her Chalk Paint, and the love for its versatility and stunning colour palette has well and truly reached Newcastle and the Hunter.
Born in Australia but calling England home, Annie is an artist and author who found herself frustrated with the lack of options she encountered when she turned her attention to decorative painting.
She developed the matt range to be user-friendly, no matter your ability or what surface you are painting – walls, timber, concrete, metal, plastic and more. Her products are sold in more than 55 countries and the popularity of the paint has grown, along with plenty of imitations.
Tighes Hill homewares store Crab Apple Vintage is an official stockist of the paint and runs regular hands-on workshops to help home decorators and DIY design enthusiasts get familiar with the product using their own pieces of furniture.
Crab Apple owner Martina Long was asked by Annie to become a stockist soon after she opened the store in 2013.
“I subscribed to a few UK magazines and there was a lot about Annie Sloan and Chalk Paint in there,” Martina says.
“I contacted her directly (as it was not available in Australia) to see how I could get it here and she asked me if I would be interested in being a stockist.
“We were one of the first in Australia.”
Martina has now met Annie and feels she’s one of the world’s most respected paint and colour experts.
“I have met her, quite a few times now, but most recently in Melbourne in November for the Makers and Painters Market,” Martina says.
Annie prides herself on training as many stockists as possible and is an advocate for independent business.
“We did some days with her training and planning,” Martina says.
This enabled the team at Crab Apple to then share the experience with customers before, during and after the workshops.
“Not only do we run workshops, but we spend a lot of time helping people and answering questions in-store before customers commit to purchase, or afterwards if they need some advice.”
The nature of the paint makes it so much easier to use than others. There’s no need to prime or sand most surfaces – unless you’re working with new, untreated wood or if the timber has knots – so it means you can get stuck right into the enjoyable parts without all the preparation work. It’s thick and non toxic, containing no lead and no odour.
The Chalk Paint palette is made up of 38 colours (plus one limited edition colour) inspired by the French Provincial style of the 18th century, and all are in stock at Crab Apple.
At a recent workshop led by Crab Apple team member Kathrin Askew, Penny Speight and Edessa Fanelli learnt techniques to breathe new life into some of their old pieces, Penny had a large concrete urn which had been out in the elements for a long time. The plan was to give it a tropical feel but with a rusty, weathered look so it aged well. Edessa brought in her grandfather’s old side table. It’s made from a dark stained hardwood, and a duck egg base and floral look was the goal.
There are a number of finishes that can be achieved using the Chalk Paint including: a simple vintage look with multi-direction brushstrokes; two-colour distressing; a rustic ‘chipped’ look; and a smooth modern finish.
One of the reasons Annie’s Chalk Paint is so beloved is that you are encouraged to break the rules; it’s not uptight or particular, it’s fun and intuitive.
“Chalk Paint can be used on most surfaces, including furniture, floors and walls, as it offers the ultimate in flexibility with colours that can be mixed together, lightened or darkened,” Martina said.
Penny sponges a graphite colour all over the urn to begin with, before letting it dry. With Kathrin’s guidance, she mixes together a blend of Primer Red, Barcelona Orange, Scandinavian Pink and Florence - a bluey-green to add a mossy look.
Edessa paints on two coats of the classic Duck Egg Blue before applying a floral stencil in Scandinavian Pink, as well as a crackle layer to add some texture. Random sanding was then done to create a stressed look. The addition of clear Chalk Paint wax adds a sheen and long-lasting protection without changing the tone.
Both women are happy with the final outcome and leave the workshop with new pieces.
Annie’s Chalk Paint world doesn’t just stop with the colours - there’s support and accessories to go with it to ensure the best outcome and to answer all your questions if you’re having a go at home.
“Annie brings decades of knowledge – and plenty of style – to the hugely popular line of decorative paint.” Martina says. “And it is not only paint that she offers, there are also books, brushes, stencils, and fabrics.”
Annie Sloan’s range has made transforming old furniture or adding some colour to a room an affordable way to uplift and refresh. But the best bonus is that her Chalk Paint phenomenon makes it so easy too.