Sunday, September 21, 2014

Painting a DIDGERIDOO!

Today I had the pleasure of delivering a project that I've been painting on for a couple of weeks.  My incredibly talented musician friend, Amado Espinoza, makes instruments as well as performs with them.  He had asked me if I would barter with him...drum lessons in exchange for me designing and painting his hand-made "didgeridoo".  This is an unusual instrument from Australia that he made from PVC pipe that you can find at the hardware store.  He crafted a unique "slider" tube that allows for changes in pitch when he plays.  Above is the "Big Reveal" with Amado and his wife, Karen Lisondra.

These are some images of research that I gathered for inspiration.  Amado had shown me the pattern in the upper left corner that he liked.  I also found some other "didge" designs, as well as photos of the "goanna" lizard from Australia.  Amado wanted a more "Aboriginal" style.  Below is the didgeridoo before it's been painted.  Amado was playing it in my kitchen, while I recorded it with my little digital microphone on the floor.
I made some quick sketches at the kitchen table while we discussed some options of what this could look like, colors, techniques, etc.  On the right side are some photoshoped renders of how this might look with a solid black "slider".  I was concerned with scratches that would form during use of the slider pipe, so I suggested a "spatter" effect, which we went with in the end.
I used ENAMEL spray paints, so I had to set up outside...the fumes were quite strong.  Probably would have been fine if I had been on a "walkabout" looking for some "Dreamtime" experiences.  But I needed to keep a clear head. :)

I made a little stand out of a broom handle and some scrap wood.  This came in handy for the detail painting and for moving the "didge" around while it was drying in my garage. I used BLACK for a base coat.  Then I used BLACK, GRAY, and WHITE enamel paints that I sprayed into a bristle brush. I would sling dots of spatter on the upper slider tube, building lots of layers up of alternating tones.
After I let that dry, I used a RUSTY RED on the bottom tube.

Once the enamel coats were dry after a couple of days, I began the detailing work.  I masked off the main area with blue painter's tape, creating the GOANNA lizard. I then painted the shape of the lizard with BLACK acrylic paint, brushed on.
Then came the laborious process of drawing and painting DOTS and DOTS and MORE DOTS!!!  For the white areas of details, I primarily used a WHITE SHARPIE pen.  It is acrylic water-based paint.  I changed up the patterns on the lizard a bit before I was all done.  Then I used a 1/4" wide wooden dowel to paint on all of the larger border dots.  I would dip the dowel into acrylic paints...follow the shapes of the lizard, and alternated WHITE, YELLOW and ORANGE dots until all of the tube was covered.  This was not so much fun, because I had to go over everything TWICE to get the coverage to be opaque enough.  This took several hours, with a day for drying between each application of each color.
The last stage was to spray the whole designed area with clear enamel varnish.  Below is the final didgeridoo with Amado's "AE" logo at the top.  He was very happy with the finished piece...which makes ME happy!
If you would like to learn more about Amado and his music and the instruments that he makes, please visit his website:
or you can find him on Facebook here:


Anonymous said...

Have tou seen the Dart ad that refers to the didgeridoo? I had never heard of it before you showed me photos of this one. So interesting. And I had no idea it was Australian! Mom

Barry said...

Cool stuff (as always)!

pedalpower said...

Warren that is fantastic! I wondered what would stick to PVC but sounds like you solved that problem! That design with all the white dots and the lizard...right up my alley! Love it.

Warren Ludwig said...

Thanks, Joyce! I would warn, however, that the white pen will scratch off, if you don't give everything a coating or two of the varnish. I was also painting on a base coat of enamel. Not sure if that was better or worse than painting on acrylic. My daughter, Jen's boyfriend had made a didgeridoo out of PVC as well...but he had sanded it first, then used acrylic on everything. He also painted on a thicker varnish (whereas, I used the spray-on kind).

Glad you liked it, though. :)

Warren Ludwig said...

Barry...thank you sir. :)

Warren Ludwig said...

Anonymous Mom...I have not seen that commercial. Just sent you a photo of an aboriginal man from Australia playing one. :)

Painting with a twist said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.