Working on black paper can be a great challenge and allows you to get outside of your comfort zone and experiment with mediums in a new way. In this post, I will be going over a few of my favorite mediums to use on black paper and how to get the best results from them.
Gouache is like a chalky watercolor and stands out nicely against black paper. For a darker shade, use a lighter application. This paint can be layered up to produce a more vibrant color. Similar to watercolor paints, gouache is water-reactive even after it dries, so it can be reworked. Gouache leaves a smooth surface where there are no textural brush strokes.
On this under the sea painting, I used Liquitex Acrylic Gouache. These Acrylic Gouache push the opacity of each color pigment to its limit and there is no need to dilute with water like most gouaches. These paints are also permanent and water-resistant.
Oil pastels are another medium that shows up beautifully on black paper. Using oil pastels you can blend colors, draw, and shade. These florals were drawn using Sizzix Oil Pastels.
#3 Gel Pens
Gelly Roll gel pens are my go-to when it comes to black paper because of how easily the ink transfers and how nicely it stands out. On this page, I used a stencil to trace the design over the full page. I enjoy how this white pen shows up against the black.
#4 Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint will also work against the black paper, but it takes a little bit more effort than painting with gouache. Most acrylic colors are translucent, which means that you can see the background behind them. When working with black paper, that means that you still see the black and it is harder to see the color. The only color that is opaque in acrylics is white. You can mix your colors with a bit of white paint to make them more opaque and stand out against the black paper.
Why I like using acrylic on black paper is because you can build up texture, unlike with gouache. For a painting like this one, I wanted there to be a lot of texture and brushstrokes in the flowers, which is why I chose to use acrylic even though it is harder to work with on black.
#5 Paint Pens
I hope this gives you some ideas for working on black paper! Share what you make by tagging us on social media or post your projects in our Project Gallery.
In this blog post, I am going to show you how to prep 12x12 paper to be able to use alcohol inks. You can not use alcohol inks on regular paper because it quickly absorbs and you can't play with it long enough to give it the cool and distinct look that alcohol ink gives. When using alcohol ink you must apply it to a non-porous surface. This could be yupo (paper made of plastic), glass, or tile. I wanted to work on yupo but saw that it does not come in sizes large enough to make a 12"x12" layout. So, I got to work experimenting with the best way to duplicate this effect.
Although there is not any yupo paper that is 12x12, you can get acetate sheets in that size, which works great with alcohol inks. There are even acetate sheets that have designs on them. For one of my designs, I used the specialty sheet from Jen Hadfield's "Reaching Out" collection.
When working on an acetate sheet with designs, make sure you are working on the side where the design was not printed. You can easily feel to see if the side is raised or not and that will tell you which side to paint on. Paint on the flat side. Because I wanted to be able to see my designs clearly, I glued my acetate sheet onto a white piece of cardstock. I wanted the side I was adding the alcohol on to be protected, so I glued it face down. Because you can see any tape or glue through your acetate sheet, I found it was best to randomly place blobs of glue on your page. When you squish down the glue, it looks like it is part of the design.
Mixed Media/ Watercolor Paper
I started with Vicki Boutin's Mixed Media paper because it is a very sturdy paper. I would recommend mixed media or watercolor paper. Next, I needed to coat it in something to make it non-porous. I found a few different products to make this work. First I used Glossy Accents by squirting it on my page and spreading it with a paintbrush. Glossy Accents is typically used as a light adhesive or as drops to add accents to a page. But when applied to an entire page, it acts as a barrier. This is how the other products I tested works as well.
Next, I used Glossy Mod Podge. This worked the same as the Glossy Accents, but it was a little easier to apply because I did not have to squeeze it all out of a bottle. I was able to dip my paintbrush into the jar before spreading it on my page.
Finally, I tested Clear Finish Aerosol Spray with a gloss finish. This took many coats to work. You know you have enough on when your paper looks glossy!
Glossy Mod Podge Background:
Which worked best?
The acetate sheets work great with alcohol inks, but you can not use a heat tool or the plastic will bend and warp.
The glossy accents and mod podge leave more of a matte finish, which I prefer when using it as paper. But, there is the texture of brushstrokes left behind. In thinner areas, the ink did bleed through the paper, but this could have been helped by applying a second coat.
The spray took many applications (4-5) to achieve the level of finish I was looking for but had no brushstrokes.
The results: I recommend using one coat of glossy accents then cover it with one coat of aerosol spray. It is still a bit shiny, but not as much as the acetate sheets, which will give you a glare. It also holds the color nicely and is very easy to make a vibrant painting. The quick coat of aerosol spray is a sealer and will help in you missed any spots, and give you the same shine all over the page.
Here is my finished piece using my self-made yupo paper. I used a rainbow of alcohol inks to create the background and Vicki Boutin's "Color Study" collection to embellish it.
Check out this video if you want to see some alcohol ink techniques!
Art journals are a fun and creative way to get making! There is no right or wrong way to make an art journal and there are endless mediums you can include. In this post, I am sharing some tips that you can follow along with to get your journal started, sharing some of my favorite journaling supplies, and showing lots of journal page examples. The different techniques can be added to your journal one at a time, or grab from just a few that you like to try on your page. The hardest thing about art journaling is staring at the endless possibilities of a blank page; so my best advice is just to get started and don’t overthink it! Have fun and know that not every page will be a masterpiece!
What supplies do you need? The most important and essential is a journal to work in. I recommend a journal that is a little smaller because smaller pages seem less intimidating for beginners. Below are some great journals to work in.
Depending on the type of journaling you want to do, the supply list could be endless. I think it’s best to start out with a handful of products and see what you like to use. I would grab some watercolors, a good pen, old book or magazine pages, a stencil or stamp.
Some techniques to try out:
#1 Add in the background of your page. This can be with paint, paper, or texture. It is best to just jump in! You can start with a light color and build up the colors. Use a large paintbrush to get the background covered. Like we said in the beginning, looking at a blank page can be intimidating, so cover it up. For a more vintage feel, drip coffee or tea over the page. Rice paper is also a great place to start because you can easily rip it and layer it in.
#2 Use a stencil over part of your page. You can use paint, texture paste, or sprays to cover an area on your page. I like to do either opposite corners, or about half of the page going down diagonally. You can also use the stencil as a template to trace over. After you have your traced image, you can doodle or paint inside of it.
#3 Add some script. I like the look of script on a journal page. I do this by using a scripted stamp or writing some myself. When I write it out myself I don’t try to focus on how my handwriting looks because if I don’t like it, it can always be covered up. When I can’t think of anything to write, I look up the definition of a word that I think goes along with the feeling of the page. You can also use a quote, plan your day, or set goals. This is a private space for you to fill with whatever you want! You can also tear out a page in an old book that has a paragraph that you like and use that as your script.
#4 Put a border around the entire page or a section of it. This helps define your page a little more and gives it something concrete. The border can be thick, thin, decorative, striped, or a circle. You can make a border with washi tape, paint, pens, or whatever else you think will work. I like to make my corners darker so it draws your eye more to the center of the page.
#5 Add stickers, doodles, stamped images, photos, tags, envelopes, dried leaves, or drawings. I like to have some sort of focal point on my pages. If you are not a drawer, that is fine! Cut out a part of a photo and trace around it. Use a stamp or stencil and color it in. Use your favorite sticker as a focal point. Make a pocket for a tag to rest in. Glue on an envelope in which you hide writings, ephemera, or something else.
#6 Mark making. This can be drawing circles, dots, lines, scribbles, scratches, or any other shape on your page. I like to use paint pens or gel pens for this because they will sit on top of whatever medium you have underneath it. I like to make clumps of lines or circles, that way they seem less random. You can also trace over the outlines of where your paint blobs are. This technique works well with watercolor.
Here are some great mediums that I like to use in my art journals:
Here are some of the products I used on these pages:
I hope you give art journaling a try. Flipping through a finished journal is an amazing feeling and you can go back to what you were feeling the day you made that page. When you are looking at the finished journal, you will not notice the little mistakes here and there, you will just see the finished piece altogether. Art journaling can be a very therapeutic process where you are also being creative.
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