Tole Painting - Decorative Art Designs w/ Photo Gallery

Decorative art on wood, cut to look like ceramic tiles ~ painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness
Decorative art on wood, cut to look like ceramic tiles ~ painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness | Source

What does “tole” mean?

The word tole means lacquered or enameled metal-ware.

What is Tole Painting?

Tole painting is a type of decorative art where designs are painted on a variety of mediums such as tin, metal, wood, glass and ceramic. Painted objects can be anything from a vintage tin coffee pot, metal or wood utensils and even larger, modern pieces such as a toy box, hope chest and furniture.

The terms “tole painting” and “decorative painting” are used interchangeably when describing a variety of techniques used to paint functional as well as decorative surfaces.

History of Tole Painting

The practice of tole painting originally referred to painting on tin and began in New England during the 18th century following the Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783).

Traveling peddlers would sell their wares to settlers with the majority product sold being tin ware. Because they were not able to afford elaborate cookware or dinnerware, settlers would then decorate these tin pieces to make them more appealing. This included purposeful tin items such as

  • serving trays
  • tea pots
  • canisters
  • document boxes

Tole Painting Today

As centuries have passed, tole painting is now more commonly referred to as “decorative art” or “decorative painting.” Resurgence of tole painting in the 1960’s and 1970’s became apparent with studios offering to train students to become “tole” or “decorative painters.”

The National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters was created in 1972. Today, it has expanded worldwide and is known as the Society of Decorative Painters.

Before we go any further, what are your current thoughts at the moment.

Do you think tole and decorative art painting is a craft or an art?

See results without voting

Example of bringing an object to "life."

Look at the plums in the picture below.

The base coat was a solid dark purple. Using a variety of techniques such as side loading and floating with contrasting colors of paint, the plums are highlighted and truly become alive.

It is possible that it may take 20 to 30 passes to get the depth of the focused object. Patience in creating the gentle color gradation is what creates the remarkable “life” effect.

Cluster of plums brought to "life" ~ painted by Patty Sypek/design by Debi Cole
Cluster of plums brought to "life" ~ painted by Patty Sypek/design by Debi Cole | Source

Decorative Art Painting Techniques

There are many techniques that can be used within a single piece of decorative art. Here are some of the more common methods used.

BASE COATING

Base coating is simply applying the base color of any object. For example, let's say you are going to paint an apple with a stem and leaves. You would first draw or trace the outline of your picture. Then, you apply a base coat of red to the apple and base coat of green to the leaves.

SIDE LOADING or FLOATING

Side loading or floating is the primary method of applying paint to give depth and life to EVERYTHING. Depth requires the gradation of color to show where shade and highlights exist.

A flat brush, sometimes called a “shader,” is dampened with water and then the excess is blotted with a paper towel. One corner of the brush is dipped into the paint and then blended into the brush using a back and forth motion. The blending motion moves the paint across the bristles.

A properly loaded brush will have full strength paint on one side diminishing gradually to pure water on the other side. It’s the gentle gradation of colors that creates this effect or depth. This takes practice . . . and more practice.

SPATTERING or SPECKLING

Spattering or speckling is a “spray” of small specks of paint onto a surface often done with the use of an old toothbrush and a flicking motion of a thumb on the bristles.

DRY BRUSHING

Dry brushing uses a brush where most of the paint has been removed. This technique can be used to highlight an object.

STENCILING

Stencils are used by many tole and decorative art painters.

ONE STROKE

The one-stroke method of painting decorative art has been around for centuries and remains popular today. Brushes are loaded with multiple colors of paint and applied simultaneously. This method is faster than applying each paint layer individually and provides visual depth to the piece.

Patty Sypek
Patty Sypek | Source

Patty Sypek - Tole/Decorative Painting Artist

For over four decades beginning way back in kindergarten at the age of five, Patty Sypek and I have remained close friends. Although Patty’s successful career with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation has nothing to do with painting, she is a spectacular artist who utilizes her creativity in all areas of her life.

Whatever you wish to call it, tole or decorative art painting, Patty creates unique works of art. She also cuts out her own wood pieces to paint, giving them her special touch.

As you scroll through the rest of this article, I hope you enjoy all the photos that showcase Patty's artistic talent.

Decorative art storage cabinet painted by Patty Sypek/design by Fiona Hayward
Decorative art storage cabinet painted by Patty Sypek/design by Fiona Hayward | Source

Do You Want to Learn to Tole Paint?

If you have the time, patience and desire to learn, search for classes at your local craft store. Also see if there is a local chapter of The Society of Decorative Painters nearby.

Most painters do not create their own designs but purchase patterns and books. The directions within the pattern will help the painter achieve the final result.

Keep in mind this is not an inexpensive endeavor.

  • Brushes cost between $3 and $20 each (my friend has well over 200 brushes).
  • You’ll need paint, lots of it!
  • Patterns/books typically cost between $5 - $15 each.
  • Surfaces to paint on such as wood, tin, porcelain, etc. can cost anywhere from $2 - $200 or more.
  • General supplies such as palette paper and stencils cost too.

It takes many hours and years to become proficient at tole painting. As decorative painters perfect the side-loading technique where, for example, a bunch grapes look like they can be plucked off the painted piece and eaten . . . this is where the “craft” becomes a true form of art.

Door and Window Toppers

One of my favorite items that Patty makes are door and window toppers. She uses them sporadically throughout her beautiful home and changes them depending on the holiday or season.

Here are some samples of her toppers.

Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness | Source
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by A. Newman
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by A. Newman | Source
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek | Source
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Terrye French
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Terrye French | Source
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Helan Barrick
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Helan Barrick | Source
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Janet Moreland
Door or window topper painted by Patty Sypek/design by Janet Moreland | Source

Decorative Art Storage Boxes

I love when Patty creates and paints multi-purpose items. These decorative art boxes can also be used to store or hide things. They are another favorite of mine.

Here are some samples of the boxes she's painted.

Storage box for Halloween candy painted by Patty Sypek/design by Kathi Walters
Storage box for Halloween candy painted by Patty Sypek/design by Kathi Walters | Source
Christmas storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Prudy Vannier
Christmas storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Prudy Vannier | Source
Multi-purpose storage boxes painted by Patty Sypek/designs Betty Caithness
Multi-purpose storage boxes painted by Patty Sypek/designs Betty Caithness | Source
This box was painted by Patty Sypek and shows a more "traditional" folk-art type pattern/design by Helen Jeglic
This box was painted by Patty Sypek and shows a more "traditional" folk-art type pattern/design by Helen Jeglic | Source
Holiday storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Janet Moreland
Holiday storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Janet Moreland | Source
Patty's "crocodile box" that she painted for storage in her "safari room" ~ modified from a Jane Crick design
Patty's "crocodile box" that she painted for storage in her "safari room" ~ modified from a Jane Crick design | Source
Fall storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Sonja Richardson
Fall storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Sonja Richardson | Source
Mock Christmas book ~ holiday storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness
Mock Christmas book ~ holiday storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness | Source
Side view of Mock Christmas book "box" painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness
Side view of Mock Christmas book "box" painted by Patty Sypek/design by Betty Caithness | Source
Halloween candy storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Helan Barrick
Halloween candy storage box painted by Patty Sypek/design by Helan Barrick | Source

Holiday Decorative Art

Patty has painted all types of things for holidays throughout the year.

Here are just some of her other holiday pieces.

Cute Easter decorations painted by Patty Sypek
Cute Easter decorations painted by Patty Sypek | Source
Candle snuffers painted by Patty Sypek/design by Chris Haughey
Candle snuffers painted by Patty Sypek/design by Chris Haughey | Source
Halloween music box decoration with rotating moon ~ painted by Patty Sypek/design by Yvonne Kresal
Halloween music box decoration with rotating moon ~ painted by Patty Sypek/design by Yvonne Kresal | Source
Christmas sled painted by Patty Sypek
Christmas sled painted by Patty Sypek | Source
More adorable Easter decorations painted by Patty Sypek
More adorable Easter decorations painted by Patty Sypek | Source
Christmas holiday puzzle painted by Patty Sypek/design by Kathi Walters
Christmas holiday puzzle painted by Patty Sypek/design by Kathi Walters | Source
Large Halloween decoration painted by Patty Sypek
Large Halloween decoration painted by Patty Sypek | Source

Decorative Art Checker Boards

One of Patty's unique creations are her decorative art-style checker boards. The details are amazing.

Check out the following three examples of her work.

Winnie the Pooh & Friends checker board painted by Patty Sypek ~ she made this unique piece using the flip side of a wooden cutting board.  The moving pieces are little bumble bees and honey pots with removable lids.
Winnie the Pooh & Friends checker board painted by Patty Sypek ~ she made this unique piece using the flip side of a wooden cutting board. The moving pieces are little bumble bees and honey pots with removable lids. | Source
Nautical checker board with light houses for the moving pieces ~ painted by Patty Sypek
Nautical checker board with light houses for the moving pieces ~ painted by Patty Sypek | Source
Another beautiful checker board with heart shaped movable pieces painted by Patty Sypek
Another beautiful checker board with heart shaped movable pieces painted by Patty Sypek | Source

Now ~ what do you think?

After viewing Patty Sypek's beautiful work, do you think tole and decorative art painting is a craft or an art?

See results without voting

National Museum of Decorative Painting

Did you know there is a National Museum of Decorative Painting? It opened in 1982 in Atlanta, Georgia for the purpose of displaying, collecting and preserving the art of decorative painting.

The museum showcases everything from historical exhibits to current works of decorative art. They also offer educational programs for the public to help increase the understanding and appreciation for the heritage, methods and techniques of decorative painting.

Disclaimer

Every effort was made by Patty Sypek to give credit to the original designers if applicable. We apologize if anyone was missed. Feel free to contact the author of this article if you have additional information regarding credit for a specific design.

In Closing

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed learning about tole and decorative art painting. And I especially hope you enjoyed the photo gallery showcasing examples of decorative art paintings by Patty Sypek.

And to Patty, thank you . . . for everything.

This is Sharyn's Slant

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Comments 46 comments

missolive profile image

missolive 3 years ago from Texas

I am so glad you have shared this. Patty is a true talent and her designs are adorable. It is hard to pick my favorite but those checkerboards would be nice to have. This is one of my mom's hobbies and she likes to buy/paint old metal teapots she finds at flea markets. I'll be sure to share Patty's work with her. Great hub! Pinned it :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I really enjoyed this hub and the work is just beautiful. Patty is very talented, and I love this type of this type of art. Voted up and shared.


Vickiw 3 years ago

Hi Sharyn, this is a beautiful and well-crafted (!) Hub. The painting is exquisite. I have an 86-year old friend who after 30 years still meets with her friends once a week to do tole painting! They love it, and have beautiful things to show from it. Absolutely gorgeous work by you and your friends!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very beautiful pictures and art, Sharon! That lady is quite talented. I can't draw stick figures so I'm in awe of anyone who can do this.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Love this hub and so complete. I love the pictures. Great job as always. Voting up and pinning.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Mo ~ first comment, cool! Patty IS truly talented. Thanks for sharing this with your mom too. FYI, Patty is thinking of selling her checker boards if you truly are interested, let me know. Thanks for stopping by and for pinning as well.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Pamela ~ I really think Patty's work is beautiful as well. I'm so glad she agreed to let me showcase it through an article here. Thanks for the vote and share.

Sharyn


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A great share Sharyn;interesting and useful.I vote up and share.

Eddy.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Vickiw ~ thank you so much for the compliments. I love the story about your 86-year old friend who still meets with others to tole paint on a weekly basis. That's awesome! I really appreciate your feedback.

Sharyn


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I've always liked tole painting and only wish this was something I could do. Patty has an amazing talent. I really enjoyed reading all about this and viewing some of her pieces.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Tole painting is a fascinating art form and you certainly did it justice with this beautiful hub, Sharon. Your photos, too, are outstanding. Voted way up!


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Billy ~ thank you for your compliments. Patty is extremely talented. I appreciate you stopping by always.

Sharyn


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

I so admire people who can do this! I've had friends who did tole painting as a hobby, but it's too precise for me, I think. So I will just admire it - and maybe buy a few pieces.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

Wow...sharyn. This was beautiful, and requires talent and persistence. Thanks for sharing the art work.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

This is a very creative art form that has one foot in art and one foot in craft.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Holy cow. Your friend does beautiful work. I had no idea this art form was called tole painting. Really interesting and beautiful hub.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

A wonderful article about this particular art form. Loved all the photos, too.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Carol ~ Thank you so much for your compliments and vote and pin as well. I always appreciate you stopping by.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Eddy ~ Thanks for your votes and share. I'm thrilled that you like this article.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi SZ ~ I don't know, you are pretty creative. You might be a great tole painter if you give it a try. Thanks so much for your feedback and compliments about Patty's work.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Dr. BJ ~ Thank you so much for your feedback and compliments. Very much appreciated.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Marcy ~ I agree about admiring people who can do this. I do too. When Patty and I were much younger (still in school I think), I remember us thinking of ways to make some money. We used to paint little wooden pieces and add magnets to the back. These magnets were simple, for example a small heart shape painted all one color and then polka dots added to it.

Well, today, that remains the level of my painting ability. As you can see, Patty continued to grow into larger and much more beautiful artwork.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Ruchira ~ I'm happy to share Patty's beautiful artwork. So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the great feedback!

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Mike ~ great to see you! Yes, I agree with you "a very creative art form that has one foot in art and one foot in craft." If I was to attempt to tole paint, it would definitely be a craft as I don't have the patience or skill for perfecting all the detail. Then there are those like Patty who create awesome art.

I'm so glad you stopped by ~ thanks!

Sharyn


bridalletter profile image

bridalletter 3 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

What a joy to look through all the images! My favorite are the Halloween pieces. I am equally impressed with the checkerboards. I was introduced to this craft about 7 years ago, but I never picked it up. I admire the work. Very nice hub, thank you for sharing.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Glimmer ~ yes, Patty's work really is beautiful. I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub. I appreciate you stopping by.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Blossom ~ Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

Sharyn


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi bridalletter ~ I actually think out of all the things that Patty has painted over the years, that her Halloween pieces are her favorite as well. I tend to be drawn to the decorated boxes such as the one in the first photo. That is one of my favorites. Of course, I love the checker boards and all of Patty's work. Thanks so much for your feedback.

Sharyn


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 3 years ago from Western NC

This is a stunning hub. Hands down, I think it's art, but a different kind of art than fine art. I probably gravitate more toward fine art, though I've done some "tole painting" in my time. Awesome stuff!


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi CC ~ aw, thanks for the compliments. From some of your artwork that I've seen, I can tell that you've also dabbled in tole painting as well. Thanks so much for your great feedback!

Sharyn


tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

What a lovely hub and so many wonderful ideas of where to practice your skill. Loved all the photos. Your friend is truly talented.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Tebo ~ Patty is truly talented. Thank you so much for stopping by to check this out and leave a thoughtful comment.

Sharyn


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Beautiful Hub! Tole painting is so beautiful...the best kind of decorative painting!


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Scribenet ~ Thank you so much for your compliments. Glad you enjoyed this article. I appreciate you stopping by.

Sharyn


Lisawilliamsj profile image

Lisawilliamsj 3 years ago

This is useful, interesting, and the photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing, I voted up.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Lisa ~ thanks so much for your feedback and vote!


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Wow, that Patty Sypek cabinet is really beautiful. I guess you would need some skill to paint like this and have it appear the way you want. Thanks for clarifying the "tole painting" vs "decorative painting" meaning. Voted awesome!


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Suzanne ~ yes, that cabinet is awesome. I agree that you need some skill to create a nice piece. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback!

Sharyn


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Tole Painting - Decorative Art Designs Photo Gallery is a beautifully presented hub with such creative thoughts.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi DDE ~ thank you so much for your wonderful feedback. This hub was fun to put together!


Gwynn 20 months ago

I am in need of the Halloween musicbox pattern, do you sell that? My number is 951 461 8943.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Hi Gwynn,

No, I'm sorry I don't. Look at the photos in this article and see the names of the designers who are mentioned. Then do a Google search on them to check out the patterns they have available. Good luck,

Sharyn


billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

Is this really the last piece you did? Two years? My goodness, Sharyn....I hope to see more soon. :)


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 13 months ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

ha ha Bill, thanks for making me giggle. Yes, this is and I need to get back to it. You might have just inspired me! Take care dear.


norlawrence profile image

norlawrence 6 months ago from California

Your article was great. I learned so much. I love tole painting and have several pieces. Your pictures were gorgeous and breath taking.

Keep up the great work. Thanks for sharing this great article with us.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 6 months ago from Northeast Ohio USA Author

Thank you! My friend Patty does awesome work!

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