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How to paint a mannequin

How to paint a mannequin

Here’s how to paint a mannequin! Because I know you want to!

A few years back I was invited to decorate a mannequin for Scottsdale Fashion Square’s opening of Barney’s. The cool thing was that after the Arizona event ended, the Barney’s folks asked if they could take my mannequin on tour to other store openings.

Then it ended up at Vision Gallery where it sold to an out-of-state visitor.

This project happened so fast, I never had a chance to share a proper tutorial, and when someone recently asked about it – I thought I’d dig up the pictures and spill!

How to paint a mannequin – and why?

Why do you need a mannequin?

Let’s get in our artful zen mode. My theme: “The light within.” As long as you keep positivity and empowerment under your skin, your true colors will shine through – coated with a layer of glitter and varnish, of course! 

If you have a bedroom, sitting area or even your art studio and want an inspirational conversation piece, this is it!

And it’s really easy. If you like to doodle and decoupage, you’ll do just fine!


Chunky permanent marker

Collage Pauge® Instant Decoupage™, sparkle

Wide soft brush


Keep your mannequin in separate pieces, because it is easier to work with.

Collect a variety of quotes and sayings, and even a list of ideas of things to draw.

Use the marker to doodle all over the pieces. Make sure to use a black marker so it will show through the tissue paper.


Cut your tissue into block pieces. Squeeze the Collage Pauge in a bowl and paint over the surface in an even coat, then add the tissue in random order.

Paint a layer on top of the tissue as well so it is sealed. I was going for a stained glass effect to go with the quote I wrote on her chest:

“People are like stained glass windows, they sparkle when the sun is out, but when darkness comes their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”

This is a wonderful quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

I added my own “crafty chica-isms’  – as well as quotes from Maya Angelou and Eleanor Roosevelt on other parts of the body.



Keep working on covering all the parts with the tissue.

Make sure to let one side dry before doing the other so the tissue won’t rip while its wet. I used square pieces, but you could also cut your tissue in different shapes.




















I decided to keep her face clear, I love the way the glaze and glitter makes the color radiate. I used tissue paper for the eyes and lips. No paint – just paper.



This part I made up on the fly. I sectioned off  her head/brain into positive qualities.

OK – here are some other ideas for how to paint a mannequin:

– Doodling. Make a marker into a necklace and use your mannequin to jot empowering sayings, or your favorite doodles, or have your guests sign it.

– Accessories holder. Hats, scarfs, bracelets, purses, rings, jewelry, load her up!

– You could glue little mirrors all over to make her sparkle and shine!

– Outfit tester. You can ix and match your outfits on her to see how they will look.

Thanks for checking out my post about how to paint a mannequin. I you are inspired!

Resolution Collage Calendar

Gift Card Jewelry


6 thoughts on “How to paint a mannequin”

  1. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this: these would make a great collection for something similar to the “cows on parade”. Only as a fundraiser for cancer research. I love it!

  2. Lisa! Yes! That’s exactly what the show was about. They had thirty different artists decorate a mannequin, it was amazing and inspiring to see all the different visions and artwork! A really fun way to celebrate our local arts community!

  3. What a wonderful piece. I love the colors and sayings. The suggestions for other mannequin art is awesome. 🙂
    You noted the piece sold, is it in a private collection or public display?

  4. Oh WOW! I seriously had no clue what the event was for. Guess I “got” your artwork without even knowing. Your work spoke for itself…which says quite a LOT!!! Well done! 🙂


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