Of all the things I’ve been asked to paint, this “Kitschy Cactus” is, by far, the most unusual…but from it, you can learn How to paint an old concrete statue. My friend has had it for 20 years, though it had been in her family much longer. She inherited it when her great-grandmother passed away at the age of 101! While it has served as a cherished reminder of her loved one, my friend had a new vision for it. So she asked me if I could repaint it and, somehow, incorporate her love for the Arizona Cardinals. Being that I’ve never been asked to paint a cactus before, how could I refuse? The result is a one-of-a-kind, Kitschy Cactus that suits my friend’s quirky personality, while honoring her ancestry.
For those who might not know, the official Arizona State Flower is the Saguaro Cactus Blossom. This particular saguaro, however, will blossom in a different way, as I explain How to paint an old concrete statue in 5 easy steps.
Wash it with regular soap and water. Normally, I would have hosed down this statue, because it had lots of dirt and layers of paint that had lifted off. But this concrete statue weighed a ton. Once I got it home and set it up in my garage, there was no way I would be able to move it outside. So, I just got a bucket of soap and water, and I used a wet cloth to wipe it clean.
Address any chipped pieces of concrete by filling them in. I used ready-to-use Patching Plaster by Dap to fill in all the broken pieces. I let it dry for a couple of days and then sanded it smooth. (You’ll need to wipe it clean again.)
Prime it. This is important, especially if you are painting it another color. In my case, I needed to paint an image on it, and the white primer helped me to start with a blank slate. I used interior/exterior latex primer for this project.
Paint it. If this statue was going to be one set color, I might have used my paint sprayer for a more professional finish. It would have been done in no time, and it would have ensured that the paint covered all the nooks and crannies. But, because I was painting an Arizona Cardinals logo, I had to, first, draw a rough outline in pencil, and then paint with small brushes. You can use regular acrylic paint. Just make sure to use a durable exterior paint if the statue is going to be placed outdoors. Painting this old concrete statue was a lot more challenging than I expected because it is so textured. The rough, uneven grooves, made it difficult to paint smooth lines with accuracy.
Add a clear coat protective finish. You can find it in a gloss or matte finish. I went with a matte finish, and I found it in a spray can by Valspar. It went on easily and dried quickly.
With that, this old concrete statue is ready to head back home and help its owner cheer on her favorite team. It went from desert disaster to the most Kitschy Cactus I’ve ever seen. Oddly enough, the more I see it, the more it grows on me.
I don’t know what my friend’s great-grandmother would think of the new paint job, but like me, she would have to appreciate seeing how happy it makes it’s current owner.