Ink + Rain = Monsoon Papers

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Dance like no one is watching.” This came to my mind when I learned how Quinn McDonald came up with the concept for her monsoon papers for mixed-media art. As you’ll read below, Quinn had an epiphany of grand proportions that was inspired by a dramatic force of nature. I can’t help but believe that she was visited by a muse.

Monsoon paper and mixed media art techniques
Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach, a mixed-media artist, and the author of Raw Art Journaling and The Inner Hero Creative Art Journal. “Pin” this monsoon paper for future reference.

Ink + Rain = Monsoon Papers by Quinn McDonald

My first summer in Phoenix shocked me by showing up in April. I had moved here in November and believed the “dry heat” hype. After spending most of my life on the East Coast, spending a winter without snow put a big smile on my face—every day. Until April, when the first 100-degree day showed up, fading my smile. When the humidity poached the early days of June, my neighbors mentioned a “monsoon.” What? Monsoon? In the desert? Couldn’t be. But it was coming.

I was in my backyard one Saturday when the sun dimmed. The sun rarely dims in Phoenix, and never in June. A huge olive and ochre cloud blooming over a third of the sky. Right behind it was another, this one saturated in indigo and eggplant. Impressive. Impressionistic.

The first rumble of thunder lasted more than half a minute and sounded like a train wreck about to happen. The first drop of rain was the size of a plum and smacked me in the forehead, drenching my face.

I ran into the house and grabbed full sheets of Arches Velin out of the studio. I scooped up bottles of ink and re-inkers for stamp pads, choosing the ones that matched the clouds—olive greens, yellow ochre, blues, and purples.

Mixed media textured backgrounds with monsoon paper
Use monsoon paper for art journal pages,
collages and more.

Back outside, those plum-size drops were picking up velocity. The orange and lemon trees’ leaves shook. Rain bounced off the ground and soaked my jeans.

I tossed the paper onto the tree branches and flung ink on them. A lot of ink. Rain beat the ink into the sheets. Color spread across and ran down the paper. I flipped the sheets over to keep the ink from dripping off. I threw on more ink and added more papers. As papers blew out of the trees, I held them under others still slapping in the wind.

As fast as it arrived, the monsoon storm blew out. The sun appeared. I was standing, drenched, in my back yard, holding intensely dyed papers in my ochre and purple hands, with a silly grin on my face. Those were the first monsoon papers.

Since then, I have refined the technique so I can make monsoon papers indoors, in any season. I learned that loosely wadding the paper while wet adds interesting texture. There are a few other refinements I practice—adding glitz with gold paint and glimmer sprays for variety.

The papers can be sewn or stitched. They can be used as journal pages and covers, postcards and mail art. Tearing them creates great collage papers, as the dye soaks into the fibers. You can cover boxes or use the paper for photo mats or bookmarks. Monsoon papers can also be cut into rectangles, coated with matte medium and used as placemats. Make matching napkin rings from smaller pieces. The paper is sturdy and versatile. Let me know what you create with it! ~Q.M.

Quinn’s passion is contagious, and I hope that you’re feeling as inspired. Moments like this, that drive us to be creative no matter where we are or what we’re doing, are a gift. We can all be grateful that Quinn had this moment, which resulted in many artworks of beauty. Quinn’s new DVD, Monsoon Paper Workshop, breaks down the steps for making these multi-functional papers in your mixed-media art. It’s also part of this $10 digital download sale, so now’s a great time to pick up a new technique that will encourage bountiful creativity.

Hoping a muse visits you soon,


Blog, Paper Art and Zen Doodle


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