Collage artists are forever on the hunt for backgrounds. The right color balance, the right texture will make a collage perfect. This technique also makes great abstract cards.
One of my favorite techniques is one I call Rorschach, after the inkblots used in psychology tests.
There are several ways to make this work. Here, I’m using the easiest with the most likely to give good results.
You’ll need some heavy watercolor paper (I use Strathmore 400-lb, hot-pressed watercolor paper) in a size twice that of the needed background. If your collage is going to be 4 x 6 inches, the piece of paper you will use should be at least 8 x 6 inches. You’ll also need several different colors of heavy acrylic paints, clean water and a big brush. First, cover your work space with newspaper to protect the surface. This technique gets messy.
Fold the piece of paper in half. Press the crease with a bone folder so it is crisp. The finished size should be at least the size of your collage if you are using it for a background. Open the paper. Using the big brush, wet both halves of the paper, but only on the side facing up.
Drip several big drops of paint onto one half of the paper. Repeat with at least three colors. You’ll want to make one color the dominant one, using the most drips. The second color will have fewer drips, and the last color will have just a few. On a small piece of paper, a good color drip combination is dominant color, 7 drops, second color 5 drops, final color 3 drops.
Refold the paper so that all the paint is on the inside. Using your fingers, rub them over the closed card in the shape of a spiral, circle, or lines. Don’t waste time. Then using the side of your fist, rub it over the closed card from closed side to open side, in arcs. You can use a brayer for this part. Do not press down hard, it will push all the paint out of the card. Some paint may ooze out of the sides. This is OK.
Now you are almost done. Starting at one corner, slowly pull the card open. Slowly is important to get good pattern distribution. A sample is shown above. Plan to do several at a time, not all of them work perfectly.
–Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com
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