Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Technique Tuesday: Plastic Wrap Backgrounds

Nothing makes me happier than having a fellow artist or crafter ask me, "How did you do that?" I'm always more than happy to explain or illustrate the techniques I use to make my art. That said, I'm going to try to build a few step-by-step tutorials for some of my favorite techniques. I'm starting today with a fairly simple process for creating backgrounds using acrylic paints and plastic wrap.

What you'll need
  • background material (I used watercolor paper, but any dry surface that will take paint will work.)
  • liquid acrylic paints in two contrasting colors
  • water
  • paintbrush
  • plastic wrap (I used blue wrap here to get better contrast in my photos)
I started by applying a coat of Gesso to the watercolor paper to give it more tooth and let that dry completely. Then, using a wet brush, I covered the paper in the lighter color of contrasting paint (yellow). Allow that layer to dry completely. If you're impatient (as I am), you can use a blow dryer on low to speed the drying.
Once your background material is dry, use the same very wet brush to apply a layer of the darker shade of paint (red). It's important that you make the layer very wet because you're going to want to move some of that color around in the next step.
Working quickly, before the red starts to dry and turn your background solid orange, tear a sheet of plastic wrap about twice the size of your background and lay it on top of the wet paint. Now, use your fingers to push the plastic wrap around, forcing the darker paint to move into the folds and creases of the plastic.
Let the plastic wrap sit on top of the paint for a minute or so, then carefully peel it back. If you like the result you got, toss the plastic and let your background dry.
If you want to add more texture, simply drop the plastic wrap back onto the background material and push it around a little more. Feel free to bunch it up in places and flatten it out in others until you are happy with the patterns you see developing on the surface. You have about 5 minutes to move the paint around before the darker color starts to dry.
You can be as subtle or as bold as you like with this technique, making soft, swooping shapes or tight, angular spikes of color.

I use this technique often when I'm preparing papers to use in my visual journals. I hope you'll give it a try and let me know if this little tutorial was any help.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool technique and fun too! I always find doing backgrounds the most difficult image to come up with. Thank you.