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How to Paint a Fan: Instructions and Ideas

Since school, Bronwen has been interested in art, has joined Artists' groups where she has lived, and occasionally has even won prizes.

Paint the Twigs and Petals

Paint the Twigs and Petals

Painted Hand Fans: DIY Instructions

Ready-to-paint hand fans are inexpensive to purchase and easy to find in most handcraft shops. The two in the above photograph came in one package for less than $6. These authentic Chinese folding fans are made from all-natural products. The components include bamboo slats and possibly handmade paper. They are quite strong and very useful in hot weather.

However, they will be so much more attractive when, with a few watercolours, they are decorated attractively.

A hand fan could be painted quite easily by adults or by children. As a kids' craft, the hand-painted fan makes a great gift for Auntie or Grandma. Ideas for kids' crafts are in demand.

Of course, it's wonderful if you can invent your own design, but instructions are given here for a simple floral picture and this may give you ideas of other designs you could create.

Start with a hand fan you buy at the store, then add your own painted embellishments.

Start with a hand fan you buy at the store, then add your own painted embellishments.

How to Paint a Fan

  1. Choose a Floral Design. Firstly, choose or sketch on a pad a simple design with not too much painting needed. I used a Chinese watercolour style. This means that the design is not drawn onto the fan, but painted straight onto the paper.
  2. Start With the Stem and Leaves. Mix black and yellow watercolours together. I used Chinese tube watercolours that are inexpensive and readily available. Holding the brush vertically, firstly draw the main stem, then add the leaves. You may find that it is not easy to keep the fan flat, so it is best to paint one section at a time, moving across the fan gradually while holding firmly the part that you are working on.
  3. Paint the Petals. Mix a red watercolour, such Rouge, with a little white to make a pleasant pink. Charge the brush with white near the handle and with the pink from there to the tip of the brush. Place the brush, tip facing outward from the flower centre and roll it gently across to make the shape of each petal. Make five petals for each flower. Using a slightly darker pink, form the buds in the same way.
  4. Add Veins and Sepals. For the leaf veins use a slightly darker green colour. Then add the sepals to the flowers and buds using the same darker green colour.
  5. Paint the Anthers. Charging your smaller brush with yellow, add the anthers to the flowers, making tiny dots near the centre of each flower.
Add the Leaves and Anthers

Add the Leaves and Anthers

Add a Final Touch

It would be lovely to finish your fan with a personal touch, such as your signature, your 'chop' (a stamp with your Chinese name) if you are lucky enough to have one, or even a brief message or poem.

The fan could also be adorned with stickers or with coloured feathers. These trimmings can also be easily purchased at most craft shops and there seems to be a vast variety of choice.

  • Note: Fans can be decorated as gifts, favours or mementoes for many occasions, such as an outdoor party or wedding and will be greatly appreciated. The decorations could include lace or ribbons of the theme colour of the occasion.
Finish with your Signature

Finish with your Signature

Questions & Answers

Question: I'm French and wanted to do a bachelorette party with silk fans to hand paint. I ordered some fans from China but they are low quality... It was impossible to paint them with silk dyes. Do you think it's easier to paint with watercolor as you did?

Answer: I'd certainly try that on one of them to see how it goes. Of course, as I don't have the fans you mention I cannot be sure, but I'd be surprised if the watercolors did not work.


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on May 19, 2016:

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Frustrated, angry, and looking for advice on a problem: As long as the paper or other material on the fan is suitable, you can use most kinds of paints. If using oils I would dilute them with oil and turps quite a bit, so it gets that slightly ethereal character.

Frustrated, angry, and looking for advice on a problem on May 17, 2016:

Is there any type of paint that you can use to paint OVER a fan? I don't want to use watercolor because watercolor will not do solid colors, wouldn't cover over the design, and frankly looks shitty

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 04, 2013:

PaoloJpm: What are you studying? I hope you enjoy the course and learning. Having fun after class is important, too.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on April 03, 2013:

yeah, I am enjoying it so much. Both my studies and my other staff in school. Always lough trip going anywhere we want, but of course after class. I will have fun making the awesome fan I am certain of that.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 03, 2013:

PaoloJpm: So graduation will be next year. Enjoy your study and learn all you can. Have fun painting the fan, too.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on April 03, 2013:

ahm,, she celebrate her birthday maybe a week ago I think, then my gift will be given next year on the day of our graduation. So, I can prepare so much out creating my cool painted art fan you shared! thanks

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 03, 2013:

PaoloJpm: Ha! This year or next year? However, study is definitely more important. Now you've done the planning, just 'put it on the back burner' until you have time.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on April 02, 2013:

No, I was actually just planning to do one. ANd since, I was very busy that day, I told her to accumulate my gifts till our graduation ahhaha

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on April 02, 2013:

I'd love to see the result.

B A Tobin from Connnecticut on April 01, 2013:

Thanks BlossomSB ! I don't think I will have a problem finding them.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 31, 2013:

barbaat79: Yes, it is great to share. Hope you are able to obtain the fans easily and that it works well for you. I'm sure your daughter will be delighted.

PaoloJpm: Were you able to get one and paint it all in one day? Wow! If you did, that was a great effort. I hope it was appreciated.

John Paolo B.Magdaluyo from Philippine on March 30, 2013:

Cool staff! I think my friend would love this one as a gift for her birthday tomorrow. Glad I saw it today! thanks for sharin and voted up!

B A Tobin from Connnecticut on March 26, 2013:

How lovely to share that activity with her. She will remember that always! Enjoy your visit and once I find the blank fans (going to a local store to see if they have them) I want to create one for my daughter and send it to her. The idea is so precious. Thank you for your response!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 25, 2013:

barbat79: Thank you. In a few minutes I'm off to visit a granddaughter to introduce her to the joys of creating a pretty and useful gift, although I rather think she'll keep it for herself. Glad you enjoyed it.

B A Tobin from Connnecticut on March 23, 2013:

Wow, I never knew this could be done. It was wonderful the way you gave full details on your work along with the pictures! So interesting and helpful!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 21, 2013:

Glimmer Twin Fan: The ones for sale can be very beautiful, but for a gift there's nothing like something you've made yourself. Thank you for your comment.

Claudia Porter on March 20, 2013:

What a great idea! I've never seen this. I have seen beautiful fans for sale.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 17, 2013:

Eiddwen: Thank you, dear Eddy. Hope you're having a great weekend.

Genna East: That's lovely. I'm writing a general article about fans, too, and in it I'll have a photo of one of my Grandmother's fans. I love your poetic comment.

Vellur: It makes a useful gift and will be more appreciated because it has been painted by the giver. Thank you for your comments.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 16, 2013:

Never thought of decorating a Japanese fan, creative and useful. As you say these will make great gifts, voted up.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 16, 2013:

What a lovely, creative idea. My grandmother loved fans, and passed that affection down to me. I love your fan in the photo. The flowers are beautiful; they open with the fan is if coming into bloom. Thank you.

Eiddwen from Wales on March 16, 2013:

What a wonderful hub Blossom and thank you for sharing.


Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 15, 2013:

always exploring: It is a fun project. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about it.

Mhatter99: I wonder if you'll try it. Thank you for your comment.

Michael-Milec: Thank you. It's both creative and useful, as the fan is a practical gift - especially as we've been having a heatwave here in Melbourne.

MsDora: It really isn't difficult. It wasn't difficult to share as I enjoyed doing it; it was fun, especially on a hot day. Thank you for your vote.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 15, 2013:

Beautiful job, and you make it sound so easy! Thanks for sharing. Voted Up!

Michael-Milec on March 14, 2013:

Hi blossomsB.

Amazing !

Seems as wonderful idea for relaxation while being creative.

Voted Awesome

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on March 14, 2013:

Great idea. thank you

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 13, 2013:

You are so talented. I love this idea and it would be a fun project. Thank you for sharing...

Bronwen Scott-Branagan (author) from Victoria, Australia on March 13, 2013:

dghbrh: Thank you for your lovely comments. It's true that it's a good thing for kids, too. I'm going to do it this weekend with a granddaughter.

joanveronica: Your artist friends would have lots of fun painting fans and their efforts would probably be much better than mine! Enjoy and you have a good day, too.

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on March 13, 2013:

What a good idea! This I had never seen before! I must show it to my handy artist friends! Voted up, awesome, beautiful and interesting. Have a good day!

deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on March 12, 2013:

Very wonderful idea with a personal touch for gift. Simple and easy way to design as per various mood and occasion to suit with and even a terrific item for decoration also. Kids will be delighted to make it as well. Thanks for this one. Voted up useful and shared.