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The Painting of Rooster

Part Seven of a Seven Part Series by Bette Largent

The Passion of the Carousel

Painting by L. R. Montgomery
My favorite Valentine is "Looffun", an outside row figure on the Spokane 1909 Looff carousel. The name has several meanings - a Looff horse and Looff horses are fun - or just any carousel you can ride is fun! It really doesn't even diminish from the magic of the ride who the carver or manufacturer was to any child or adult who sits astride. As we grow into adults, the magic is not only in the ride but in the art of its creation as well. This passion for all things carousel keeps us young and young at heart. Looffun has a lovely heart on its trappings and a cherub as well! Or is it a cupid? Hmmmm, now we bring in romance.

Many stories are told of people meeting their loved ones on carousels. Stories of courting and of proposals. Even today, the romantic young at heart lovers of carousels use this magical ride for such things and now and then, carousels are even the site of weddings and anniversary celebrations. A complete circle of life, of love, and fun.

Looff Carousel, Spokane, WA
We are now told that a passion for the arts, either through appreciation or participation, can keep us young. Participation can be done by restoring the music of the historic band organs, the carving of carousel figures, or the painting of these wooden carvings. There is always the enjoyment of traveling to a carousel for a magical ride and rekindling your passion for the art of the carousels, and all the while staying forever young. By joining a carousel support group, you can satisfy your passion for the ride while you are helping to preserve the carousel!

Looff Carousel, Spokane, WA
Looffun is a chocolate-brown pinto. Scout shows another type of pinto and its subtle shadings, all achieved by applying the paint with a stipple technique. This is very important as you want a soft edge with hair like qualities as you outline each large spot.

You will encounter a problem of freckling (small splatters of paint) either on the white or the dark spots as you apply the paint in this pouncing method. Other than masking off the areas, which I don't recommend, you will simply have to wait until both areas are dry and go back and touch them up. I have found it easier to touch up the white freckles on dark areas, so I paint the dark spots first. You can then wipe off the freckles with a cloth and a little thinner if done within 24 hours after the freckling happens. Again, the key is to have the adjacent areas completely dry before the white color areas are painted.

As long as we are showing Looffun and its gilded cherub on the back of the cantle, we can discuss how this antique gold effect is achieved. A flat (low-luster) base coat of dark rust brown is applied to the carved area first. When this layer is dry, usually in 24 hours, a chocolate brown layer is applied with dry brush strokes (very little paint on the brush) allowing the earlier rust brown to show through, especially in the raised areas.

Looffun's Gold Cherub
Finally, after at least 48 hours of drying time, the gold is painted on. Allow the gold to be brushed only over the top ridges of the carvings and not into the carved valleys and grooves as shown in pictures 5 and 6. The drying time is very important. The gold is a "hot mix" and will curdle the base coat paint if the base coat is not completely dry!

The base coat colors are achieved by mixing low-luster or flat black with brown and orange enamel to get the rust brown. The chocolate brown is a mixture of low-luster black and brown with just a little red. The gold used is made by Odds and Ends and comes in a 1/4 pint jar. The enamels are available in 1/2 pint cans with only black and white available in flat or low-luster. By mixing either of these colors with a glossy enamel you will dull down the paint while achieving the necessary color. This duller enamel is now a very good base paint.

Angels on the rounding boards of the Dreammaker Carousel, by the Montana Carousel Company
Once your first coat of gold is dry for at least 24 hours, a second coat may be applied to those areas that will highlight the carving.

Limited Edition Miniatures of LoofFun by Jerry Reinhardt are available at The Riverfront Park Gift Shop. Prints of LoofFun (as pictured above) are available directly from L. R. Montgomery.

Be sure to send in your romantic or fun story about your favorite carousel and win prizes from the gift shop. Happy Valentines Day!

Part 1 |  Part 2 |  Part 3 |  Part 4 |  Part 5 |  Part 6 |  Part 7

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Bette Largent is a professional carousel horse restoration artist from Washington State, and the author of Paint The Ponies, a guide for those who are interested in learning the art of painting carousel figures.

Click Here for information on ordering her book.

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