Saturday, February 12, 2011


Pair 1
My cousin Patty saw one of my blog entries and wanted me to make her a few pairs of sneakers for her family. Because her notes for each pair were vague, I was able to easily satisfy what each person wanted while not corrupting my artistic style. This is the first pair of four and this pair is for my cousin Austin.

Before I get into anything, I just wanted to say that I forgot much work this is. The process is sooo long and tedious. Besides dangerously stripping the clear coat with acetone, the painting has to be precise and perfect. The paint doesn't smooth as well I would like it to which adds to the difficulty of achieving this perfection. Each painted area has anywhere from three coats to five depending on the color and the underlying colors of the leather. This is why white sneakers are the easiest but dark color paints, especially the purple, are extremely difficult to get flat. The paint smooths like ink. It is very fluid and easily spreadable. One drop can cover a large area but like I said it, it doesn't look the same in all areas until the fourth third or fourth coat of paint. I'm pretty sure I already explained the process of painting leather in an earlier post so I will just highlight parts I left out last time. Here are Austin's Lacoose sneakers.

The two pictures above and to the right, both illustrate what the leather should look like after using the acetone. You must remove all of the finisher for the paint to adhere to the leather and it is a good sign when the leather begins to absorb the acetone. There will be slight discoloration from this but its nothing that the paint won't hide. Just make sure to only acetone the areas you will be painting. During painting, you will be able to see if you have done a good job stripping the clear coat because the paint will not bubble at all. If it does, start over. You will be wasting your time painting.

The two cotton balls on the left illustrate the difference between a clean cotton ball and one that is covered in clear coat. I must say, this pair was not that bad compared to some Nike Dunks and Air forces Ones I have painted in the past. This pair of sneakers needed about sixty cotton balls and took about forty-five minutes to clean.

Some areas are tight and difficult to clean using the cotton balls. These areas need a tool that are more precise and accurate. Q-tips are great because they are cheap and they can handle the pressure needed to remove the protectant. The only downfall is their surface area is small and you will need a lot of them to clean a very small area.

Over painting the eye holes for the laces was a bad idea. I had to use a Q-tip and the acetone again to remove the paint. I was too scared to go close the the edge so I had to use a razor blade to remove the access near the leather.

Stupid mistakes like these tallied up some extra time that was unneccassary if done right in the first place. I have never painted any other shoe than Nikes before and I guess you can say that it was completely different such as wateercolor paper and canvas differ. They are similar but definitely not the same.

Splatter painting of the tongue, small back portion, and laces created an interesting effect to the sneakers. My cousin wanted something abstract with blues and purples so I thought some Jackson Pollack would work.

After I painted the sneakers, I decided to dye the laces purple. They did not turn out as dark as I thought they would but the newly born lavander was still interesting. I tried matching their color in paint to unify the design. I outlined the shapes I created and accented the edges of all the planes. They turned out so 80's and I'm loving them. Let's just hope Austin does too.

Overall I am happy with them. They took a long time because this pair was sort of a trial and error piece of art. Looking back on it, I could easily replicate something abstract like this is a few hours instead on thirteen.

Pair 2

This pair is for my cousin Patty. She said that she wanted something "girly" and that she liked flowers. I figured flowers are easy enough so I rolled with that idea. At first, I painted these shoes with Georgia O'Keefe in mind. I wanted the flowers to be blown up and abstract but it did not turn out that way. It looked terrible and I was actually scared that I had ruined them. At this point I figured what the hell... Just go for it!

Two movies later, I had something that I could work with. I did not take too many pictures of this pair in process, but I'm sure you get the picture. They are very colorful and wild. I'm not sure if a mother of two in her early forties would wear them all the time but I hope she does. If she likes them as much as the girls in the post office, than I will be very happy.

This pair of floral Nikes are easily my favorite!

Pair 3

This pair is for my cousin's husband Jeff. He said that he wanted something colorful but he and I both didn't have anything in mind. The only thing I really know about him is that he likes to golf. When I visited them in Las Vegas, Jeff had just gotten back from a golf trip in Utah. He was so excited about the course that I decided to recreate that for him.

I googled a few images and believe that I found the exact golf course that he played on. It was very beautiful. The sedimentary rock formations were reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. They were reddish-orange which complimented the grass very well. After painting the image I found, the sky was boring. I blended three different blues to show the horizon but it wasn't enough. ..clouds!

I decided to paint the front green and add some sand traps to make it a legit golf course. And no golf course would be complete without the green and flag to locate each hole, so I added one to the outside of each shoe.

And what would be a better place to take a picture of them than on an actual golf course. I'm sorry for trespassing ;) I hope you like them Jeff.

Pair 4

This pair is for the little guy Michael. He originally wanted a caricature of himself and a dragon but it was too hard to fit his face in the small area on the sneaker. I decided to roll with the dragon idea. First, I wanted to paint scales all over the sneaker and paint the image he desired on the toe. After painting the black, I realized how difficult it would be to create such a design on a sneaker, and how chaotic and ridiculous they would turn out. I want him to want to wear these so busy was out.

I tried matching the factory made bright green to use as a base for the dragon. This part was so difficult. I had to take an image from the internet, paint it onto a sneaker, and then transform it as a reflection. Flipping the image and making them look similar was the hardest part of painting any of these sneakers. Each color needed about four coats of paint which added to the difficulty, but I think they turned out pretty good.

The picture above illustrates the differences in coats of paint. The dragon on the left is finished while the one on the right only has two coats of paint.

I had to incorporate the state of Texas, which I painted near the back of each sneaker, because the original design of the dragon had the state around dragon as you can see in the image below. I wanted to paint the outline around the dragon but I liked how his hair blended into the sneaker so I didn't. I also had to flip this image too so the state wasn't backwards on one of the sneakers. Definitely the most difficult pair out of the four.

I love how smooth and simple these appear. They look like he could have bought them compared to the other sneakers that are obviously custom and different. I think you''ll like these Michael.

In conclusion, LOL, although this process of painting sneakers is tedious, I still do enjoy it. It was a fun project that helped me train my eyes and refined my painting skills. Thanks again to my cousin Patty and her wonderful family for buying sneakers and trusting me to paint them. You guys are the best. And to whoever you are, thanks for reading such a long post. You're pretty cool too I guess.


Daniel Lyons said...

Sorry if this post is hard to follow. I organized the html four times before I quit and hit "publish" anyway. It looked great in the preview every time but something goes crazy when its on the actual site. I hope you can bear it better than I can.

Natalie Farrell said...

Those shoes are fantastic. I love the brush strokes on the clouds in the golf shoes, and the way you painted the mountains. The flower shoes are full of brilliant bright colors that compliment each other very much, and the different designs of the flowers makes you feel like you're falling into a field of them. Just perks my mood up. The dragon shoes are sharp, fun, and edgy. It looks like an image was pasted on there instead of painted. I love the black (black is one of my favorite colors) and how it transforms the light green. And lastly, the abstract shoes are crazy, hip, and snazzy. Like we said, I could see you wearing a certain NY hat of yours and your angry panda shirt with those shoes. Even the Joker hat would fit right in. I agree, I wish the shoelaces could of turned out a lot darker. Maybe if we bought dark purple or dark blue shoelaces to replace those, it'd pop more. Either way, it's funky and fresh. I want you to teach me how to do this, and we can work on our own shoes together. Would be a fun project. Although, after reading everything from this post, and seeing you do this in person, it looks incredibly hard and is such a time consuming task, but it'd be well worth the patience and hard labor. ;) Only when we do this, we'll have Metallica playing in the background to pump us up! Huhu.

Awesome work, Dan, as always. Rock on.

jesse said...

OMG dude that is amazing, i can tell you spent a lot of time and it really shows, I totally want some kicks now. we should go into business with a shoe company yea?

Natanya Elka said...

OMG. Dan! You should absolutely sell those things ~ what are you waiting for? I *love* them!

christopher said...

Awesome I'm sending some sneakers out asap.very talented... Christopher

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