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.

31 thoughts on “Postcards with Brushos

  1. I love this so much! I want those paints! I think the pears are awesome, so glad they and you will be part of the swap! Thanks for joining Quinn, it’s so much fun to see your postcards blogged

    • I’m doing a whole set of fruits–apples, cherries, and maybe a bear or two! The paints come from England, you can probably get them easier from there than from the U.S. And you would LOVE them!

  2. Oh boy, a new toy I’ll have to try. iHanna’s swap has got me hooked on Postcrossing and Mail Me Some Art. A friend and I do a weekly swap of a hand made card. The new paints look like fun, I love watercolor and all thing that that blur when wet, inks, markers, crayons pencils. I just found artists tissue paper that bleeds, haven’t had time to play with that yet, but sounds like postcard fun in the making. As always, thanks for the tip Quinn!

  3. I was turned on to Brusho paints about 15 years ago thro Gail Harker and City and Guilds……in Coupeville, WA……and they are fun and can be made into small puddles of water colors to actually paint with etc……the colors are very good and are great for book makers……..For years, none of my friends knew what I was talking about when I said that I used my Brush paints on something…….I am glad that they are more readily available now….it took weeks to get mine from the UK……paint away!!

  4. You are right – here in the UK we have used them for a while – almost from cradle to grave. Try them with rubbing alcohol on the page first – with bleach (those stamp pads that need heat are good) and also with salt, wet pva etc. You will never tire of playing with them…. it’s easy to get hooked. this is just the tip of the iceberg!

  5. Wow, way awesome, Quinn, and thank you. I immediately thought of the potential magic of combining Brusho with acrylic ink after reading your post. This is gonna be epic…

  6. How wonderful. I’ve had several people tell me about Brushos and I would love to carry them in the shop, but haven’t had any luck doing that yet. I might just have to order me some to play with too.

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