Three Watercolor Mark-Making Tips from the Kitchen

10 Dec 2012

If you lack an art studio and consequently play with wet media in the kitchen or dining room, you are in luck. You have easy access to culinary you can use in your artwork.  Here are three mark-making ideas that will spice up your watercolor painting. All use supplies from the kitchen.

reductive mark making technique jacqueline newbold
Jacqueline Newbold uses a Mr. Clean eraser and a stencil
as mark-making tools to create patterns.

Jacqueline Newbold creates beautiful representational watercolor paintings in her art journals. But Jacqueline also has an unusual technique for mark making to create patterned backgrounds in her paintings and journals.

After you've painted a wash on your page, place a stencil over the area where you want to add a pattern (or letters). Then take a damp Mr. Clean Eraser sponge and lightly rub it over the stencil openings. The eraser will "clean" the paint off, leaving the design on the page.

I learned several mark making technique with watercolors from another Jacqueline, Jacqueline Sullivan. My favorite mark-making technique involves plastic wrap. First, lay down a wash in a strong color or combination of colors on your page. Then, take a piece of plastic wrap, crumple it, and lay it on top of the paint, making sure that the plastic is in contact with the wet pigment. 

mark making with plastic wrap and paint
I created this pattern with plastic wrap and watercolors using a technique by
Jacqueline Sullivan.

Let the painting dry with the plastic wrap in place; this may take 24 hours or more. Remove the plastic wrap, and you will see the wrinkles have left marks in the paint wash. These lines can be enhanced with metallic colors or white ink to form more pronounced and decorative abstract shapes.

This last mark making idea comes from artist Diana Trout. It's a resist technique, similar to the invisible writing you did as a child. Place a piece of wax paper over your watercolor paper. Using a stylus (or other dull-pointed object like a dry pen), draw a design or letters on the wax paper. Remove the wax paper and paint over the surface of the watercolor paper with a wash. Voilà, the marks will be revealed!

You'd be surprised how versatile watercolor is for mixed-media art and mark making when you use a little kitchen wisdom , and supplies.

To discover more mark making techniques and other ways with watercolors and mixed media, be sure to check out Water Media Collage Workshop, an instructional DVD with Carrie Burns Brown and other wet media supplies from the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop.

P.S. Do you use kitchen supplies in your artwork? How? What's the oddest thing you've ever used? Leave your comment below.

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Mimi Niesen wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 9:20 AM

A sprinkle of table salt on watercolors creates a nice texture. The shaker often winks at me as I journal @my kitchen table:)

KellyGreen wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 9:45 AM

Well, it's not that odd but using sea salt is always fun - after doing your watercolor wash and while the paint is wet, sprinkle sea salt over the paint, let dry, and then brush off. Creates a great mottled effect!

Gloria E wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 10:48 AM

Great techniques!

mbshaw wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 12:36 PM

I use a potato masher when I do batik. That is probably my weirdest.

kayester wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 1:49 PM

Instead of using expensive Mr. Clean sponge that has chemicals in it you can buy a generic brand that is chemical free that works just as well.  In my area you can get them at CVS or Walgreens drugstore, or at Walmart.

Bobbiclay wrote
on 10 Dec 2012 4:15 PM

A loofah can make some strangely wonderful textures.

ckuhfahl wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 5:18 PM

I used an old potatoe masher to make a thick background with dimension. It mixed the colors I used in interesting ways too.

on 15 Dec 2012 6:41 PM

I have just created some interesting digital background possibilities from a photo I took in my kitchen the other night, of a beautiful reflection off my cheese grater which I photographed! if you visit my blog you can see it. I may trace the pattern in Inkscape and cut it with my Black Cat Cougar machine for an interesting art piece.

Quite a few of my kitchen implements and supplies seem to have found their way into my ARTHaven - my rolling pin, rolls of baking paper and cling film, foil, etc. and of course the ubiquitous kitchen paper and sponges! Kitchen paper used to mop up ink can be torn up and re-constituted with gel medium, and bits of fibre or sparkly bits added to create fabulous "hand made paper," or glued onto boxes for altering. You can also make awesome flowers with it. You can iron pretty paper table napkins onto waxed paper and cut them and use them in various ways. Old washing up brushes are good for cleaninging paint off stencils and embossing folders etc. I've also purloined cocktail and barbecue sticks from the kitchen, which have a multitude of uses, and small cookie cutters for air-dry clay etc.

I want to try some of my washing soda from under the kitchen sink to create skeleton leaves for art work, and I also thought the cat food pouches might be fun to cut open and decorate the insides with alcohol ink - I wonder if you could emboss them with the Cuttlebug?

If you Google Jennibellie (I call her the Recycling Queen) you can see what incredible albums she makes from old cereal packets, as well as loads of other recycling projects to make beautiful art. She is awesome!

Never thought of the lufah! The bathroom is sure to be a good source of things. I use old toothpaste tube lids as distance pieces in 3-D work, and old toothbrushes for spatter paint effects. I've heard of people using shaving foam in art work but I've never tried that. Old plastic spray bottles are brilliant too, for water spritzing and making up your own glimmer mists.

Next year I'm determined to do more with recycled stuff, and also use up loads of stash I've got, rather than buying new.