Painting Sneakers Part 3 - Starry Night

In the previous post I showed how I painted some sneakers for our grandson Austin as a tribute to Kobe Bryant. This time I wanted to paint some sneakers for my wife Cheryl in the style of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting.

Step 1 - Prepare Surface, Tape, and Base Coat

We bought some Air Force 1 sneakers but Cheryl didn’t like the way they felt as they’re somewhat heavier than what she’s used to. We found some less expensive ones at Walmart that fit well and were lighter and went with those.

I prepped them as before with the acetone and then taped the non-painted areas. Since the background color of the painting tends toward blues I decided to spray the base coat in blue before making the design. It’s easier than trying to cover all of the white areas when doing details. After prepping, taping, and spraying the base coats they looked like this:

Starry Night Sneakers Prepped

One other advantage of this particular sneaker style is that it doesn’t have the Nike Swoosh logo on the side which could make painting details more difficult without removing it (because of the raised edges).

Step 2 - Design Sneakers

The main problem with the ideas for the design is that it’s hard to get all of the elements of the painting on the shoes. After iterating on some ideas we decided that it would work best to include a couple of concepts in different sides of the shoes.

The Moon Side (outer side)

This side will feature the quarter-moon that is near the top-right of the “Starry Night” painting. The stars to the left of it would be included as well as the top of the dark cypress tree. The initial layout of this design looks like the following:

Starry Night Outer Design

Note: The colors in the design are a little bleached out because they were added as a top layer that was at a reduced opacity to allow the background patterns of the shoe stitching to show through.

Venus and the Land (inner side)

This side will feature the bright star Venus as well as some of the elements of the land including the clouds, mountains, and the village church.

Starry Night Inner Design

Step 3 - Painting

The painting of the sides was much more involved than the earlier projects which were single colors over areas. In this case many colors had to be mixed to get the right shades and all of paint was laid down by hand. The main technique I used was to first layout and outline the main shapes of the objects from where they were in the design image. Then the details and all of the swirls were added to the sky.

The outer side that featured the moon was painted first:

Starry Night Outer Side Painted

The inner side was then painted according to the design and it had different challenges to paint the textures of the hills and the yellow moon highlights on the low clouds.

Then once that was done the whole process had to be repeated for the other shoe.

The paints I used for this step were from this paint set: Angelus Leather Paint Starter Kit Set of 12.

Step 4 - Painting Top Front

After the painting of the sides was finished and the masking tape was removed the white remaining color of the top front didn’t look good so we decided to paint it a light blue shade:

Starry Night Top Painted

Step 5 - Stencil Design

The top color looked good but is a little plain by itself so Cheryl asked if I could add a design to it. So she found a sunburst design and I mocked it up how it might look on the top with a yellow color:

Starry Night Top Design

The sizing of the design was the most difficult part as it needed to avoid the air holes in the top of the shoe as a hole intersecting the pattern would mess up the design. Once the size was made correctly the pattern was made to print out on paper:

Starry Night Top Stencil

The printout was then taped on the stencil film “Oracal 813 Masking Film". Then the X-Acto knife was used to cut through the design and the stencil film. The stencil film is then separated to give a sticky side that stuck to the top of the shoe. Then the pattern was brush painted several coats in the yellow color.

Step 6 - Finisher and Completion

For the final finisher I brushed on three coats of the Angelus Acrylic Matte Finisher. This protects the finish and also tones down the shine a bit.

Some light blue shoe laces that Cheryl found online were then added to the shoes for the final look:

Final Starry Night Sneakers Outer

Final Starry Night Sneakers Inner