Exterior sign painting in Soho

sign painting on historic exterior in soho

Back to my roots!  I started as a sign painter and I thoroughly enjoy this sort of work.  This was a great job my crew and I had the pleasure of doing in Soho this spring.
My task was to re-create the exact sign that was previously existing and damaged.  This is the finished work.

finished sign

Close up.

close up

First, we applied a primer with texture.  The general formula was a tinted, latex primer (Styx) plus Rough Regular texture by Proceed plus keraset powdered setting plaster.  We rolled it on and stippled with a codtail.  We did two coats of this technique.

texture background

We knocked down the stippled texture with a trowel for a natural effect.

knocking down the texture

Then, I dry-brushed a few tonalities in rust tones with a size 80 spalter.

paint texture

Using a flat, 2-header, I added a verdigris green color over 80% of the surface, working from a palette.

paint texture

This is the close up of the large pounce pattern we used for the letters.

Pounce pattern

Here we are placing the pattern after we had already snapped some lines for registering the design.

applying pounce

Using a large pounce pad, we transferred the design.


To get the drop shadow, we simply shifted the design and re-pounced.

letters and drop shadow

Now the fun part.  Using the miraculous, deerhoof brush along with the samina lettering brush for the detailed areas, we blocked in the letters using 2 coats of white  latex paint.

outlining in white

With the deerhoof brush, you have unbelievable control of your line while dispersing a long stroke of opaque paint.  It’s a dream to use and makes for fast coverage.

using deer hoof

Using a striping edge and filbert, bordeaux striper, I began the drop shadow in a dark color.

striping drop shadow

For the rounded areas, the samina lettering brush was the best tool.

striping drop shadow

striping drop shadow

After the lettering was finished, we scuffed up the letters with a coarse sandpaper.

sanding for aging

To add the aging, we dry-brushed a rust color and softened any harsh lines with the oil badger.

adding color for aging

close up finished

close up finished

The final decorative painting step involved a final overglazing with raw umber and full-bodied Proceed glaze.

The sign was varnished with 2 coats of GOLDEN MSA flat varnish for protection.

finished sign

This was a fun project that was a great success, in my opinion. Sign painting jobs are few and far between for my clientele. I love the diversity of projects such as these.


  1. Pierre, as usual, a great documenting of a project. You’re very generous with your sharing of techniques during your many years as an artisan/artist. Even the ones of us who have been in this art form for decades applaud your abilities and willingness to pass on your knowledge. I truly respect you as a decorative painter of the highest caliber, not to mention your just being a plane ‘good guy’.
    Your Salon brother from Atlanta…

    • Pierre Finkelstein says

      Thank you so much for the kind words. It is always nice to know that this information is helpful to fellow painters! It is most appreciated.

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