How to Paint a Sand Dollar

Learn how to paint a sand dollar with my step-by-step instructions. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this comprehensive lesson will guide you through the process. Get creative and have some summer fun!

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3 Paint brushes with a sand dollar tht was painted with a darker blue edge blending with layers of green to yellow to the center. A splash of glitter all over.

For this lesson, we will be taking a beautiful sand dollar I collected from the beach and turning it into a piece of art. This is a great way to take those sand dollars we all love to collect from the coast and turn it into an art piece you will love to display and keep as a memento for years to come.

What will I need to paint my sand dollar?

Practice on a mixed media pad.

A Paint brush with bright green acrylic paint on it. Back ground is a mixed media pad with bright blue edges, green, yellow in the center. Blending edges connecting the colors.

First, grab a mixed media pad. If you don’t have a mixed media pad, I highly recommend getting one because they make excellent practice pads. I recommend practicing blending the colors you will be using on your sand dollar on your mix media pad first. This allows you to really get a feel for blending and brush strokes.

Using a mixed media pad, Christie demonstrates blending colors to make an ombre finish. She uses the paint brush with blue paint to blend into the green, then the green into the yellow.

As I prepped for this tutorial, I practiced painting an ombre or a glowing shape and blending techniques. I recommend using Filbert brushes for blending with this project. I like the Filbert because it helps with the blending to give soft edges. On the mix media pad, you can start by using the larger Filbert brush, but I do recommend swapping to the small Filbert brush for the sand dollar because it is such a small surface. You can grab my 15 piece Signature Set of brushes that include both Filberts HERE!

Small and large Filbert brushes out of Christie's signature paint brush set. The background in an ombre design on a mixed media pad. Blue, green, and yellow.

I did start with the smaller Filbert brush on my mix media so I was sure to get a true taste for how it would blend on my sand dollar.

How to use blending techniques to create a glow.

Christie is adding green with the Filbert paint brush. Blue outer edge blending green to yellow.

I started in the middle of my mixed media pad because you want to create that outward glow effect with blending techniques. Start with your lightest color. Then begin to go back and forth as you move in a circular pattern.

Before your paint dries, go ahead and grab your next darker color so they blend well as you move outward. I started going around that lightest edge and worked my way around with my next darkest color.

It is important as you are blending that you are keeping both colors in your brush while they are wet. If that first color is already dry, it’s not going to blend together. It will look very starkly different. As you are blending and working around your center area, you will blend by pushing your paint around while making sure your paints are wet. 

If you waited too long, and your paints are dry, all you have to do is come back with your light, inner color again. Paint some of that back at the center, and come back with your second color. Just start spreading the colors outward.

You don’t want distinct rings in your background, so you want to be sure to come back and shade the colors and blend them together. You can break up areas that look like distinct rings by pulling a little more light outward and a little more dark inward. Just keep going back and forth. Fan it out, and make your center a little brighter again if you need to.

How to paint a sand dollar.

Step 1

Clean off the surface of your sand dollar with water and a paper towel. Be sure to clean off all sand and debris. Let the sand dollar fully dry.

Step 2

Start at the center of your sand dollar and begin working on your background similar to how you practiced on your mixed media pad. You will begin with your lightest color in the center pushing out the paint in the shape of a circle with your smaller Filbert brush. I watered my yellow down a little bit by starting with a damp brush. It makes blending a little bit easier if you have a damp brush.

Step 3

While that lightest color is wet or damp, grab your next darkest color, which is green for me. Begin working that green in a ring around your light color while still blending them. You don’t want distinct rings. Change your brush strokes up so it doesn’t just look like a circle of rings. 

Step 4

Work the two colors together by blending them with each other. I started with a yellow, and then with a green. But, I want a yellow-green as they blend. Just kind of lightly brush the two together to soften those edges. 

Ombre blending yellow, green, and blue.

Step 5

As you move outward to your sand dollar’s edges, quickly move to the darkest color which for me was blue. I love doing a really dark color as my outer color because the contrast between the dark and the light is really appealing to the eye, and that’s what draws you into the painting.

What you want to do is lay these colors next to each other for blending. You’re creating different sections of new colors as you blend. So, the blue next to the green will be a blue-green as you blend. They’re overlapping, and they’re creating a new color. This is where the Filbert brush is so great at making those nice soft edges.

Step 6

Feel free to wipe off any excess you see as you are blending. You will make motions while you are blending which is similar to dry brushing, which basically means I don’t have a lot of paint in my brush. And, when you’re dry brushing, you’re able to get this really pretty soft blend. 

Step 7

Once you are done blending, now is a great time to add glitter if you would like to. I love how mine turned out with the added glitter. I used holographic glitter on my sand dollar. You can either put some on your pallet and then add it to your sand dollar. Or, you can do as I did and add it directly to your sand dollar.

Ombre painted sand dollar. Yellow center to green, then blue. Finished in glitter.

Step 8

Begin applying your sealer once your paint is dry.  You can always use a hairdryer to dry your sand dollar quicker. There are several options for sealers and finishes. Just use what you prefer. It really is just your preference. Do you want it to be glossy, matte, or satin? It’s up to you!

Dura Clear High Gloss varnish bottle. Background an ombre style painted sand dollar.

Look at that beautiful, finished product. What a fun way to use your beach souvenirs and turn them into awesome works of art! Even kids can do this fun summer project! I hope you enjoyed making your sand dollar a beautiful work of art!

Post a picture and share what you learned on The Social Easel Facebook Page!

Stay creative!!

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