Working With White

One of the most underrated art journal tools, IMHO, is a white pen. When I discovered this simple little mixed-media art supply, I couldn’t stop using it. Here’s what Danielle Donaldson, author of creativeGIRL: Mixed-Media Techniques for an Artful Life, has to say about using white in her art:

“Although white really isn’t a color–it’s the absence of color–it’s the proverbial glue that binds my process and creative work together,” Danielle says. “Recognizing and protecting white space gives my illustrations power and reminds me that I don’t have to fill up every corner of my art or my world with ‘stuff.’ When I add white back into my pieces, I am intentionally subtracting color and thereby creating some pretty amazing POP! Incorporating white is an integral part of my process and is often one of the last steps in completing my work, too.”

Working With White | Mixed Media by Danielle Donaldson


1. Seal the Birch Panel
To prevent the ink from bleeding, prep the panel by coating it with a thin layer of even parts clear gesso and matte varnish. Apply the mixture with a foam brush or your finger, following the grain of the wood. Let dry completely.

2. Add the Words
Using a white marker, write your chosen phrase or word onto the birch panel. Remember, the text doesn’t need to make sense to anyone but you, and it will be hidden when you embellish around or over it. You can write a single word, part of a quote, or someone’s name.


3. Start Doodling
Using white markers, add doodles such as little clovers, swirls, and bull’s-eyes to your background. I used pens in different sizes and with various tips to create variety and balance.

4. Finish Doodling
Continue adding doodles to the panel. Be sure to draw your doodles so they bleed off the edges and look as if they continue past the panel. I love sitting on my couch and working on these pieces, which I to add to my stash. The technique is quite meditative! ~Danielle

This project is from creativeGIRL, a book that embodies playfulness in art. Every page has painting tips, inspiring art, and advice that you can apply to your work, right away. For a limited time, when you order this title, you can also score a signed art print by the artist! Click here for the creativeGIRL Inspiration Pack, and fall in love with mixed media all over again.

Yours in art,



Sign up for the Cloth Paper Scissors newsletter and get a free download on printmaking techniques.




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.