Cool, Colorful & Creative

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hi Everyone,
I love color! The brighter the color, the more it seems to make my soul smile. And I hope that you will be smiling when you see how fast and easy it is to create your own colorful background washes. You’ll only need a few supplies: a clear plastic sleeve (I get mine from, watercolor paper (I use Canson’s 90lb cold press), a mister, and a few of Sakura’s awesome Koi® Coloring Brushes. In the photo below there are three different groups of the Koi Coloring Brushes which I know blend well together… use any one of these groups, make up your own, or combine all three groups to create a rainbow effect. FYI, I put a white backing board inside the clear plastic sleeve so you could see it
Once you have the supplies handy, I’d recommend using an extra piece of watercolor paper to protect your work table. (Sometimes I get paint on the ‘protector sheets’, and like the way it looks so much that I wind up using it in a design!). Here’s the step-by-step process to create these beautiful backgrounds:

STEP 1:  Prepare your design. Either draw it directly onto the watercolor paper with a waterproof tool (my favorite is the Pigma® Micron), or print it onto the watercolor paper using a LASER printer. DO NOT USE an inkjet printer, because the ink will run.

STEP 2: As you’ll see in the photo below, Sam is using the Koi® Coloring Brushes to apply color to the sleeve.

STEP 3: Make sure the color covers the entire design.

STEP 4: Mist color with water. The more water you use, the paler the colors will be.

STEP 5: Turn plastic sleeve over quickly, and place on top of the design. 

STEP 6: Press the color onto the paper. If you have a dry spot you can always peel back that section of the plastic sleeve, apply water TO THE SLEEVE (not the paper), and press again.

STEP 7: Remove the plastic and let the wash dry. 

STEP 8: Color the design! In the photo below, Sam is using Sakura’s Moonlight, Metallic and Stardust Gelly Roll pens. 

Below is a photo of the finished, trimmed card. I think she did a great job!

I am having such a good time making background washes with this technique, that I decided to share it in one of the videos I filmed for Sakura last week. Here is a photo that was taken on the set.
Below is a ‘sneak peak’ at a piece you’ll see in the video. I used a Pigma Calligrapher pen to letter the quote, because the ink is waterproof, lightfast and archival– and it dries quickly. The ‘Believe’ and ‘Dreams’ were lettered with the 3mm pen; ‘in your’ was lettered with a 2mm pen. The photo below shows the Koi color already applied to the sleeve and placed on top of the lettering to make sure it covers the entire design.

This is what the piece looked like after I misted the sleeve and applied the color to the paper. The ink didn’t run at all, but the pink is now on the bottom because I flipped the sleeve vertically.

One of the things I like best about this technique is that although I can’t really control it, almost every wash I’ve done has turned out beautifully! Also, it’s fast and fun to do, and I can make 20 to 30 washes in less than an hour… which gives me lots of cool, colorful papers to use next time I’m feeling the urge to experiment.

Experimenting is something I often do at my monthly ‘play day’… I often invite a couple of creative friends over, and we try new techniques and tools without any expectations of creating finished work. Art, by its very nature, is about expression rather than perfection. Part of growing– both as artists and as human beings– involves giving ourselves permission not only to play, but to fail. Often we learn more from our failures– especially those which take us out of our comfort zones– than we do from repeating our successes. 

So I’d like to invite you to join me in setting aside a few hours each month to experiment, to discover and to play. Please let me know if you’d like to participate in a monthly ‘Zenspired play day’… and if you would like suggestions for things to do that day. And if you already know what you’d like to do, I hope you’ll share your ‘play day’ ideas by leaving a comment. 

As always, I look forward to your thoughts. May your week be as beautiful as a rainbow.

Stay Zenspired,


19 thoughts on “Cool, Colorful & Creative”

  1. I would love to "play" with you and look forward to sharing the fun.
    Loved your new idea and thanks for sharing.

  2. Over 10 years ago I established a monthly Play Day (and we call it that too!) with my friends! It gives us all something to look forward to! Thanks for sharing your lovely work and great technique!! I am eagerly anticipating your videos!!

  3. I too would love the Monthly Play Day. Look forward to the opportunity!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing with us! LOVE the backround washes! Looks like it is FUN!! I just recently purchased the Koi coloring markers so I could try it!

    Wish I had some extra time to "Play"

    Again, thanks for sharing your talents Joanne!

  5. I can't wait to try this Joanne! And I would love to participate in the "play" day….such a great idea. It helps to specify a day to do it, otherwise life tends to get in the way!

  6. Lovely !! Simply Lovely !! Now if only I could afford to buy the Koi brush pens and Sakura gel pens I could make some very beautiful cards to sell in my shop. Hopefully over time my handmade cards in my Etsy shop will earn me enough that I can buy Sakura products and other pricey Art products that I've been dreaming to have someday.

  7. That is a genius idea and it comes out perfect. I need to get my hands on some of those Koi coloring brushes!

  8. How beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely try this. Look forward to this being a fun group.

  9. Wonderful technique and thank you and your daughter, Sam, for sharing with such clear instructions and visuals!

    If I lived closer, I'd definitely want to participate in one of your play days! Alas, but I do my own kinds of play days with friends and we also learn from our mistakes (happy accidents)…..

    Best to you always ;-}

  10. Beautiful idea…would love to join your play dates…
    Jeanie Coen

  11. I would be interested! Life is so busy. It would help to have designated time set aside for play.

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