Mixed-Media Supplies: Don’t Let Your Spray Go Astray

This morning on my way to work the driver ahead of me sprayed windshield washer onto my car. Yes, you read that right: even though it was two car-lengths ahead of me, when the driver spritzed his windshield the spray launched over his car so far that it sprayed my windshield. I actually had to use my wipers to remove it.

spray mixed media supplies inside a box to contain them
Think inside the box for spraying
mixed-media supplies.

This incident made me think of my adventures in using mixed-media supplies like spray inks, paints, and solvents. It seems that even the smallest bottle of spray can spritz farther than I think it will. I’ve ended up with ink or paint on my shoes, uncovered areas of my worktable and–worst of all–on parts of my artwork where it doesn’t belong.

So, going on the theory that I can’t be the only person with errant art spray syndrome, I’ve come up with a list of helpful hints for using sprays in your art.

1. Read the label.  The first thing you want to know is whether your spray can be harmful to your health and what precautions to take. Many aerosol spray paints warn you to work outside or in a well-ventilated room and to wear a ventilation mask.  But even on a non-toxic product, the label will reveal important information including whether it is non-toxic, how you can clean up (soap and water or solvent), whether or not the color is permanent, and so on.

2. Prepare your work area. Put a drop cloth over your worktable and–if you’re spraying a large or tall object–hang plastic on the wall behind it. If your project is fairly small, a great way to contain the spray is to spritz it inside a cardboard box.

3. Protect yourself. Wear old clothes and shoes, an apron or smock, and plastic gloves. (I know a certain editor who spray painted in the summer wearing sandals and ended up with “stenciled” feet.)


Dylusions Ink Spray spritzed over an art stencil
by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. Dylusions works well
on porous surfaces and blends with other colors.

4. Protect the art.

When you’re spraying over an art stencil, in particular, you need to be careful the overspray doesn’t go beyond the edges of the stencil–unless you want it to. Masking off the area around the stencils with paper or plastic and low-tack painter’s tape will usually do the trick.

Also, it helps to practice spraying before you address your “real” piece of art. Press the pump quickly, slowly, and from close and far away to see how far the spray goes, whether you get a fine mist or droplets, and so on. You can use this practice substrate over and over again, then cut it up or use it as a background.

Sprays are one of my favorite mixed-media supplies. I try as many types as I can, and my new favorite is Dylusions Ink Spray from Ranger. It’s especially made for porous surfaces and blends with other colors. We have Dylusions Ink Spray in a range of yummy colors in the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop, so you can try them all now.

P.S. What’s your favorite way of containing your art spray? Leave your tip below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Supplies


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