Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Backgrounds AB 101

I see two basic ways to flood book pages with colour- water soluable pigments or acrylic.


Watercolour paints consist of finely ground pigments bound with gum arabic and mixed with glycerin, which acts as a moisturiser. There are 2 grades, artist and students. You probably get what you pay for. Watercolour paints are available in tubes of thick, moist colour and in small blocks, called 'pans' or 'halfpans', of semi moist colour. Tube colour is richer and useful for washing large areas. The pans require a little more work to 'lift' the colour. The more water the more translucent the colour; that is, you control the strength of the colour by adjusting the amount of water. Flat, broad, brushes give better coverage in large areas. Watercolour uses the bigger brushes as details are generally not as sharp. Also watercolours enhance the paper texture so you can get different looks with different papers. You can also add jellies and pastes to alter consistency, transparency and finish.

Paint can be applied to dry paper. When applied to wet paper the term is wet on wet. You can make highlights by using soft tissue to dab and lift colour but leave soft edges.

Other watersoluble products are tempra, poster paint as well as crayons and pencils.

These water soluble crayons and pencils were spritzed with water rather than swiped with a wet brush.

These pages were brushed.

Watercolour paint is very easy but also unpredictable.


Acrylic is a thick, polymer-based paint that comes in tubes, bottles, or jars. It can come as a thick product or fluid. Price also affects quality. Colours can be very opaque to very transparent. Acrylics can imitate tempra, oil, and encaustic. Full strength yields a very plastic like finish. It can be thinned with water or an acrylic medium. You can also mix the paint with gels or glazes that give different sheens. (glossy, satin, matte) It darkens as it drys but does not bleed once dry. Acrylics should be stirred rather than shaken and brushes need to be cleaned quickly and thoroughly with soapy water.

Acrylics seem easier to control and can even be scraped.

Brushes, of course give different effects depending on their shape and bristle.

At this point in my journey this is pretty much theory and I am talking mostly to myself as I try to understand the different products. I luv the effect of the watercolours but I'm horrified at some of the puddles. The acrylics are kind of 'in your face' when you mess up. I do like the crayons and pencils for their control but large areas of background are slower and not as spontaneous in their execution.

Something to remember is nothing is every really final as more layers can be applied. AND, this is a background. Next will be adding layers to create interest and depth.

The 'what if's...' are pretty staggering!


Createology said...

Wow you are really doing an extensive journey of watercolors. I love the look of them but don't like using them as I never get the result I was hoping for. Your pages are so interesting. I have not even tried watercolor crayons...hmmm. Happy painting to you...

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Thanks for sharing all that wonderful knowledge. Watercolor painting is hard, but using watercolor for washes and accents isn't too bad. Acrylics do have some advantages when it comes to control. I LOVE, LOVE watercolor crayons for altered books and collage but I have always used a brush to spread the pigment, I can't wait to experiment with the spray. I'm thinking that will make for some interesting backgrounds...thanks for the tip!

My Sweet Prairie said...

Wow, you are the hub of knowledge! Gee I'm glad I found your blog. : ) You rock. Or as today's children say, you are epic!! : )
~Monika in Saskatoon