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5 background ideas for your sketchbook or art journal. Add a drawing, photographs or text on top.


There’s nothing worse than opening a new sketchbook or art journal and staring at a blank white page. But what do you do to overcome this dilemma?

Here are five ways to create an easy mixed media background and remove the initial block of facing the blank page. When you’ve finished you can add photos/collage/text/drawings on top.

Tip: For the first three techniques, as well as watercolours, you can also use acrylic paints that have been really watered down.

Creating an art journal / sketchbook background with watercolours and salt

Using a large brush, add a layer of water on top of your paper (I used watercolour paper).

Add a selection of watercolours on top of this. This is known as a wet on wet technique. Before it dries sprinkle on some salt. You can use sea salt or finer table salt.

Try experimenting, you can distribute it evenly or put some in some areas and not in others.

Creating an art journal / sketchbook background with watercolours and soap

Using a large brush, add a layer of water on top of your paper (I used watercolour paper). Add your layers of watercolour. This is another wet on wet technique. Before it dries, add soap such as diluted washing up liquid (or dish soap) and using a brush drop or splash it on the surface. If you’ve got such thing as a dropper you could use that as well.

Using watercolours and water to create a background for a sketchbook or art journal

This is really easy. Brush a layer of watercolours onto the dry paper.

Dip a brush into water and flick the surface. The water creates patches or splashes of white where the paper underneath shows through.

Creating a mixed media background for an art journal or sketchbook with acrylic paints and white (PVA) glue

Brush a layer of acrylic paint onto the paper. Wait for it to dry and then add a layer of white (PVA) glue.

Before the glue dries, add more layers of acrylic paint on top.

Leave to dry. If you have a heat tool, use it to speed up the drying process and create the finished result.

Creating a mixed media background for an art journal or sketchbook with acrylic paint and petroleum jelly (vaseline)

Add a layer of acrylic paint to the paper. Before the paint dries, screw up a piece of tissue and then dab it onto the surface to create a texture.

When it’s dry, add a layer of vaseline or petroleum jelly. Use a brush or your finger.

Then add a layer of acrylic paint again in a contrasting colour.

Leave it to dry. Rub the surface of the paper to remove the vaseline and this will give you the final layered result. Tip: You could add photos underneath the petroleum jelly, which will be revealed when you finally brush the surface.

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