I Cheated But Just A Little


Taking a cue from my Colorful Background post, I sploshed some blue and green watercolors on a page in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook. Unlike the artist who made the video in my post, I didn’t want to write on the painting so I cheated, but just a little.

The trick was to make the words temporary without obscuring the background painting. After a few so-so ideas, I remembered a packet of translucent vellum that disappeared years ago. It took some time to locate, but provided the perfect solution.

With a Pilot Prera/Plumix Italic and Noodler’s Black ink, I wrote the Eurythmics lyric several times on the vellum until it looked suitable. A little paper tearing produced uneven edges that echoed the watercolor. Then I made another written piece using a Uchida Gold Opaque Paint Marker. With a Scotch Wrinkle-Free Glue Stick, I attached the written words to the watercolor. Lastly, a swath of gold dots on the left side and the page was complete.

The Daniel Smith watercolors are from my basic palette and include Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Turquoise, and Green Gold with a touch of Ultramarine Blue. I may have inadvertently dipped my brush in Sap Green on one pass, so that could be added to the list or not.

Epsilon paper is 150gsm so it can handle a fair amount of liquid, but it still required quick work to keep things fresh and flowing. The Isabey Petit Gris Mop brush from Leigh was perfect for the loose wash. It holds a huge amount of paint and added to the fun of getting the colors to mingle on the paper.

If you aren’t into painting, a similar background effect can be achieved with wide or brush markers. The latter works extremely well when held horizontally, almost parallel to the paper. Another option is to doodle with Sharpies and write with a fountain pen over your design.

If you want to write with a fountain pen more than paint colorful backgrounds, Jet Pens has a fun palette that could be used to create a pale wash of color over which ink will stand out nicely. More about the Yasutomo Niji Pearlescent set next week, but it could make a good starting point paired with a waterbrush. It does take a few drops of water to get the paint thick enough to put down significant color. However, a less saturated look might be just the thing to make your writing stand out on the page.

Whatever way you go, writing over a colorful background adds pizazz to your words. If it inspires you to write, so much the better. Play with it and have fun. That’s what should happen with all artistic endeavors.

Speaking of having fun, I think I’ll add a few more gold dots. One can never have too much gold, right?


  1. Right. More gold is better.


    • Indeed, Erin. Now working on doodle pages with silver and copper embellishments. Lots to explore. What are you up to?


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