Creativity in Black and White

Black paper is attractive. But applying color is not always easy. Copic (alcohol ink) markers don’t show up. Watercolors aren’t ideal. You have gel pens, acrylic ink, or colored pencils. Twinkling H20s work, too. Still, not a lot of choice.

Today, while I was at a big box home repair/supply store, I found a can of  spray paint. Except it was really not paint. It was Krylon webbing paint. Spray it on hard surfaces for a faux marble approach. I have no idea how you are really supposed to use it, because I used it on black paper. And it gives a lot of different effects.

If you are going to try this, protect the area you are going to spray. This can will “decorate” your walls, floors, and mirrors.

First, I sprayed it quickly across the black page, which is about 6.5 inches by 11 inches, bound on the short side.

Next, I sprayed more slowly, but aiming above the paper, so the paint drifted down. The interesting effect of the paint on the bottom row was a mix of an erratic ECG and a map of an ant exploring a tunnel. Still, really interesting.

Finally, I used gel pens to fill in the tiny gaps with color. Just a few, for effect. Then, because this one looked like a map, I added asemic writing on the left, and a map helper on the right.

This technique is worth exploring more. I hope you do, too.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and writing teacher, creativity coach and artist who loves mixing words and art.


Soy-Silk Roving

This is the original color–bright, with a nice sheen.

After I purchased the soy roving (also called faux silk roving), I wanted to make a sheet of it. As a papermaker, making a sheet of soy paper seemed a good first step. Following directions suggested by Traci and Rosaland, I bought both nylon net and tulle, created a soy sandwich, using textile medium, and let it dry.


  • If you try this, get the roving wet, but not so wet that it makes puddles on your protective plastic sheet. It will take forever to dry.
  • Nylon netting is easier to remove, but tulle doesn’t leave any netting marks.
  • Do the wetting process on a plastic bag to contain the mess.
  • Textile medium is sticky and doesn’t easily wash off your hands. Gloves are helpful.

Edge of sheet.

I deliberately made a thin sheet, to avoid a felt-like texture. After it dried, I peeled off the nylon netting and tulle (two separate pieces) and looked at the result. It had a plastic feel, and a stiff hand. Frankly, as a first experiment, I wasn’t happy with the result.  I’ll try it again, with more water to dilute the textile medium (I used half and half) and a thicker sheet. But the plasticky hand was off-putting for me.

I’m going to try to paint this sheet with Lumiere and inks to see what happens. I can also sew it onto a sparkly fabric background for more visual interest.

In the photo on the right, you can see the impression left by the nylon netting.

There are faint impressions of the nylon netting in the finished sheet.

This disappears when you heat set it (between parchment papers).

What else can this soft, lovely fiber do? I pulled off thin strands and draped them on a watercolored sheet that I had painted with glue. I like this interesting effect, although it is still very rough. I could see this method working really well on fabric with over-stitching.

Next experiment: I can also see the “sandwich” being made from water-soluble fusible webbing instead of netting.

Fiber glued onto watercolored paper.

After the webbing is ironed in place, I’ll stitch over in free-form patterns. (OK, I have to learn to do that, too). Once the soy roving is stitched down, I can wash the webbing away. That should give me a more thread-like hand and still stiffen the material some.

The roving also comes in white, and I think using a lot of white and a little color would make a very interesting sheet.

Let me know if you’ve ever used this roving for something other than sheet-making.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist.

Fearless Creativity

Rosaland is the perfect artist’s date. She comes over with Rubbermaid containers of dyes and inks, paints and brushes, digital grounds and rubber stamps. She’s a one-person creative force. We get together to have an artist date–the activity Julia Cameron suggested in The Artists Way. It’s a time to recharge creative batteries. Some people go to a museum, or an art store, Rosaland and I get together to try out ideas.

The best part of these get togethers is that we are engaged in creative play. Tonight it was transfer papers, everything from Sheer Heaven to the new TAP (transfer artist paper) to Lutradur. We used them all with and without digital grounds–a paint that prepares a surface (metal, plastic) for printing or transfer application.

When we start we don’t have an end point in mind. It’s about having fun and trying out ideas, with no hope of creating a functional product. It’s creative play, and because it has no time limit, no requirement to publish or teach, we are open to new ideas, failures, and laughing. There is always a lot of laughing.

Here are some discoveries:

Photo transfer to fabric

I printed a photo of a willow tree on Painted Treasures, a transfer-like sheet of cloth that has a removable paper backing. After it goes through the printer and dries, remove the backing and you have a perfect photo on a piece of cloth. For Rosaland, it can go on a quilt. For me, it’s a journal page in the rough.

Lutrador painted with fabric paints

Rosaland used Lutradur as a painting surface. I love the color as well as the translucency of this piece.

Transparency with photo--half painted with digital grounds

I painted half a transparency sheet with white matte grounds and left the other half bare. The painted half held the photo of the clouds, the unpainted half held my fingerprints as they wiped off the ink. Creativity is messy business.

Woodblock with photo transfer

My favorite result of the evening was using the iron-on TAP on a block of wood. The iron may not have been hot enough, but the result was wonderful to me. It looks like a Japanese woodblock print, but with much room for interpretation. Is it a tree in the wind? A snow scene with a tree and a fence? It’s actually the same willow as the fabric transfer, but in experimental form.

Used papertowel makes a great background sheet.

Finally, Rosaland and I always save our paper towel clean-up sheets. They make great background for another project.