5 Background Techniques to Play with

Art journal background techniques using inks and stenciling
Light stencil relief
Background techniques are a great way to start an art journal page. On my art journaling courses people often tell me that they don’t know where to start. The blank page can be intimidating … there is all this expectation that it heaps on you to create something worthy. Having great expectations for the outcome is no way to get the most out of art journaling. I’m not suggesting you should have no consideration of the end result just that getting immersed in the process will be more rewarding. Creating a crazy background is a fab way to get immersed in the process. You can put aside thoughts about the finished page and just use a background techniques to break into the blank page. This approach is so liberating because your background might consist of many layers, created as your intentions changed while you painted.

Why not try out some background techniques and then see what you want to finish them with … next week I will be looking at layering. This week I have 5 background techniques for you to try.

Art Journal Background Techniques

  1. Double page paint splodge
  2. Double page string pull
  3. Inks and cling film
  4. Gelatos, baby wipes and bleach
  5. Textures

These techniques can help you get started on your page without thinking too much. Just choose the colours you want to work with and off you go.

Double Page Paint Splodge

Be uninhibited with this technique … simply drop paint around your page and then fold the opposite page on top and press. This will create texture in the paint marks as you open the page up again which you must do straight away or they will be forever stuck together, if you use acrylic that is. You could also try this technique with watercolours or inks for a flatter and smoother result. Repeat as many times as you like to fill up the page or change colours, just make sure to dry the page each time.

Double Page String Pull Background Technique

This is a technique I learned in junior school. It always seemed to produce a butterfly shape …. Simply soak string/wool in paint and then lay on your page, leaving a tail sticking out from the side. Close the opposite page and press down on the top while pulling the strings out from the sides. I used quite wet strings in my video but less paint on the strings would give different results.

Inks & Cling Film Background Techniques

I totally love this background technique. It’s adds in an element of random and gives a pretty intense result which I love. Drip your chosen colours of inks/watercolours and then spritz with a water mister. Drop your cling film, which is ideally larger than your page, on top. The trick for an interesting result is to scrunch up the cling film when you have just placed it on the page. Leave to dry and then remove the cling film.

Gelatos, Baby Wipes & Bleach

It is worth trying bleach with many different media because it will lighten the surface it is applied to. For this background I applied gelatos to my gessoed page in circular motions. Next I blended them together with a baby wipe, creating a fluffy, dreamy effect. Once dry I used a sponge, dipped in bleach through a stencil to remove parts of the background. Just be careful to not touch your eyes and wash your hands straight after using the bleach.

Textural Background Techniques

Texture is a whole new world in art journaling because it is very tactile and makes your creation very sculptural. There are many different things you can use for a textural effect, from pastes and gels to attaching other items like corrugated card, fabrics, strings, netting, … I have applied 4 different textures:

  1. Tissue paper: scrunched up into matt medium/structure gel
  2. Sand texture gel applied with a pallet knife
  3. Molding paste with impressions from a found object in it
  4. Plaited string.

I applied them in an ‘L’ shape to form a composition on the page I can work with later. This amount of gel can take quite a while to dry thoroughly. Mine took overnight. Here is a Pinterest board with some more ideas for background texture.

I hope you get some inspiration from this post and maybe jump into a background without thinking too much about the end result.

Hugs, Ceri xx

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