Ways to modify your paper and add colour to your page

If before you paint on the colour you rub the paper with the side of an oil pastel you can create a different but equally rich effect. Make sure the colour of the pastel contrasts with the colour of the paint you intend to use. Here I used a metallic gold oil pastel and wished over it with two different blues. The pastel resists the watery colour and creates grainy texture where it sits on the tooth of the paper. Using a white pastel preserves the white of the paper and can look lovely with a colourful wash over it!

This example (above) shows how a layer of acrylic gesso adds texture to the fairly smooth page of your sketchbook – see how the brush marks remain visible? Apply the gesso with a hog’s hair bristle brush and try to leave directional brush marks for greatest effect. When the gesso is dry, wash over it with a dilute layer of watercolour and you’ll discover how the paint sits in the grooves of the brush marks.

This final example (right) shows how gesso can be applied sparingly so that quite a lot of the page isn’t covered at all. The non gessoed paper accepts the paint very differently as it’s not been sealed and is more absorbent.  Even using very pale washes creates an interesting background, ideal for this moth drawing and collaged photograph.

I hope that gives you a few reminders of how you can alter the plain paper to make it more interesting. Paint effects are a great way to ‘marry’ the diverse elements that you might be involving on a single page of your sketchbook and are the perfect way to create a well considered colour scheme where the background and the focus of the page complement each other.


Bye for now – Linda

Sometimes a blank, white sheet of paper is the perfect surface for a drawing, print or collage but there are many occasions when something with a bit more interest is desirable. There are lots of ways to make your pages beautiful! In the starter art kit we sent to you you’ll find the palette of intense, water based pigments. Used with generous amounts of water onto a slightly damp paper you can achieve exciting effects.

Mix the colours you want to use with a generous amount of water, either in the lid of the paintbox or on a palette or old saucer. Apply the very wet colour with a large brush and allow it to mix and merge with a second colour on the page. Let it to dry naturally and where the colour forms pools it will dry with a darker edge. You might also consider tilting the book to encourage the paint to flow but mop up any excess at the edges to avoid spills!  Your colours can be closely related to achieve harmonious results, for instance blue/green, or opposites on the colour wheel if you want more vivid contrast. This technique can be used direct to the pages of your book or onto a variety of different papers that can be added to the sketchbook at a later date. If you work very wet there is a risk that the paint seeps through the stitches of the binding so try to avoid too much paint at the spine.

The example above is one of the crumpled and painted brown paper bags we demonstrate in Module 2. Gold metallic oil pastel has been rubbed across the crinkles of the paper once the paint is completely dry. This textured paper is probably too dark and textured to be used as a background to your work but it’s perfect as a collage material. Cut simple shapes to make patterns or frames to enclose your main focus of the page. Glue the collage shapes with PVA, white glue or gel medium.