Postcards with Brushos

Once you join up with iHanna’s postcard swap, everything becomes postcard fodder. So when my Brosho paint showed up today, I was off to make postcards.

Never heard of Brusho? Neither had I, until Glenda Waterworth, the genius behind Chocolate Baroque told me about it. Brushos are watercolors–in crystal powder form.

pcard2They arrived from Dick Blick in little cardboard containers, ready for you to punch a hole in the top with a ballpoint pen. (If you are a book artist, you’ll have an awl to use).

I’m a completely untrained watercolor artist experimenter, so I didn’t bother to see what others had done with these powder paints. All I knew was that they are non-toxic and that kids in the UK and Europe use them like American kids do fingerpaints. How could I not love them?

Brushos are intensely colored, a little goes a long way. They come in bright, saturated colors in both sets and in 15-gram containers.

Trying to paint a pear seemed like a good beginning. Brushos don’t require a lot of equipment. I pulled together

  • watercolor postcards
  • spray bottle of water
  • pencil
  • Pitt pen (size S)
  • small water container
  • fine watercolor brush, not an expensive one
  • Yogurt container lid as palette
  • papertowels
  • Deli paper (parchment will do)

pcard1I started by sketching a pear on a postcard with pencil, then using sketchy light technique to draw the pear in Pitt pen. I didn’t draw it in smoothly and completely to keep the pear from looking like a cartoon pear.

pcard3Highlights are added with a wax resist crayon. You can use beeswax or a candle, too. Journey (Peg) Cole introduced me to these, and I think of her every time I see the black and white harlequin pattern on the crayon.

pcard4Then sprinkle (lightly) the crystals in the color you want. I chose yellow and purple first.  You can move it with a brush, or just leave it to chance.

pcard5Protect part of the postcard with your hand, and spray the rest with water. Start small and see what happens. I overdid the purple, so I simply blotted with a paper towel.

pcard6Apologies to watercolor artists who think blotting is a travesty. I wanted to lift up the color, and it worked.

pcard8Having decided on purple and yellow, I added the darker colors on the other side of the pear, shielding the side that had color on it already. I sprinkled some brown in the lower left hand corner and spritzed a bit of water to create a shadow. Using the watercolor brush dipped in water, do some careful blending and add shadows.

It’s important to let the card dry before you add any more powder. You can layer effectively if you let the card dry between applications.

pcard9This is another card I completed. Not all of them worked out, but I’m experimenting and having fund.

pcard10Here are four more experiments. On the bottom right one, I used tape to hold the card flat and give it a tidy edge. I flooded the card with water and dropped the crystals from a brush. This created a sort of instant wash. It didn’t turn out blue-ribbon quality (more likely horrible mention), but again, I’m experimenting. Note the edge of the pear in purple and green. I mixed the Brusho crystals with water and used it as paint when the postcard was dry.

If you want to see someone who is fluent in Brusho paints, check out the work of Joanne Boon Thomas. Now she is an expert in these and her images are wonderful. The image below is an example of her work.

Brusho work © by Joanne Boon Thomas.

Brusho work © by Joanne Boon Thomas.

See what practice will do?

—Quinn McDonald is a writer having fun with watercolors.