I decided rather than starting over, this pedestal was the perfect painting lesson.
The secret to aged, distressed finishes are multiple layers of paint, sanding, and then enhancing character with antiquing which can be achieved with a variety of products.
My new friend had applied three different colors of paint which was fine for the first step. It looks to me like he painted the most neutral color first, the gray driftwood color. Next, he added the second most neutral color, the yellow; and last, the boldest color, the blue. In theory, I understand why he did it this way. I also like to use those proportions; mostly neutral, less medium color and the least amount of the boldest color. However, I usually approach them as if they had been painted over time applying the boldest color first, and so on, ending in the most neutral color. That way, when you sand back, you reveal the colors the more you sand with the boldest color showing up last in the smallest amount. It's more work but gives you a more authentic look if that's what you're after.
Using a fine sandpaper, I simply sanded the entire pedestal which blended and blurred the different colors into each other and exposed some of the natural wood.
My favorite method for antiquing is to use a stained paste wax. I prefer Fiddes Supreme Wax in Rugger Brown.
Wearing rubber gloves and working in small sections, apply the wax with a chip brush or piece of an old t-shirt and wipe off immediately with a clean cloth.
Once the entire piece is waxed, you can buff it to the desired sheen using a pine brush on a power drill or a clean cloth.
So, next time you are struggling with your painting skills, just tell yourself it's step one and keep adding layers until you achieve the desired finish.
Check out the "Finishes" button at the top of the blog for links to specific posts on various finishes I have tried.