Saturday Creative Stroll

It’s the weekend, so time for a stroll around the internet to give you a creative boost.

Galen Berry is a paper marbler. His work is amazing. He does traditional styles and some wonderful new innovations, like Dragon in the sky, below. See more marbled paper examples on his website.

Galen Berry's paper marbling.

Galen Berry’s paper marbling.

Quo Vadis is a blog with tools for creative minds. If I haven’t been there for a few months, I can get lost jumping around from ink recommendations to slice of life stories. He tells us about Alexander Wang (the creative director of Balenciaga) and his interest in altering a Habana journal. This is not your run-of-the-mill altering. The journal now has brass edges.

Anna Hawthorne is a bookbinder who does a wonderful job updating books with interesting and inventive bindings.

If you like wine and you like maps, combine you love with these interesting maps of various wine regions. I think they’d make great labels, book covers, or folders for loose-leaf journal pages.

If you are in the Phoenix area, I’ll be teaching One-Sentence Art Journaling at the White Tank Library at 2:30 p.m on Saturday. No charge. Just come and have fun! Address:  20304 W White Tanks Mtn Rd. Waddell, AZ  Call 602-352-3000 for question

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and art journaler. She has inky fingers.

Tutorial: Sumi Ink Marbling

Marbling paper is a complicated process. Marbling paper with sumi  inks and colored pencils is fun and unpredictable–you don’t know what you’ll get, but it’s always fun. Raw art is meaningful art you make with a minimum of equipment and without kits. It’s art that is uniquely yours and art that makes meaning for you. All the expensive equipment in the world won’t make you an artist. But making something meaningful does.

This simple, unpredictable technique  of marbling paper uses only a black ink. The project that allows for quiet meditation and a lot of fun with colored pencils, aquarelles, regular pencils, ink pens, or whatever else you have. You will need some equipment:

  • Toothpick
  • Soup plate or baking dish (8-inch square)
  • Paper towels
  • Paper to work on (I used 4 X 6 Arches Wove Text, but any  good paper will do.)
  • Sumi ink (available at most art supply houses. Walnut ink or regular fountain pen ink won’t work.)
  • Tap water (Don’t use distilled or treated. Regular tap water is perfect.)

sumigraphtintGather everything on a place you can clean up easily. Stack up two or three paper towels. Make sure the bowl you use will hold the entire sheet of paper. Fill the soup plate or baking dish with cool tap water.

Dip the toothpick in the sumi ink, so you get the toothpick wet. Touch the tip of the toothpick to the surface of the water. The ink should immediately flow onto the surface of the water. Use the tootpick to gently spread the ink on the water’s surface.

Pick up the paper by holding it at opposite corners–one on the bottom, one on top. Curve the paper slightly, so the bottom will touch the water first. Roll the paper smoothly over the surface of the water. If you want both sides of the paper inked, wait till the entire piece of paper is floating on the surface of the water, then gently push the piece under water, pull it out by one edge, so water and ink rolls down the length.

Hold the paper by one corner, allowing it to drip dry. When the paper is no longer dripping, put it on the paper towel to dry. You can use a hair dryer to finish the drying process.

When the paper is dry, use pencils, pens, or colored pencils to pick out and emphasize patterns that the sumi ink made. In the example I made, I use my favorite subtle-color pencils–watercolor graphite pencils, which can be used wet or dry. Derwent Graphtint are wonderful for subtle work, but you don’t need anything more than a regular pencil. OK, you can also use Derwent’s InkTense for their transparent color. Use a light touch, because gentle color works best with the mysterious swirls of sumi ink.

FTC Required Disclosure: I purchased all materials in this tutorial. No one paid me or donated the tools I mentioned by brand name. Links to products are not paid, simply practical ones I find useful.

—Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who believes that everyone can keep an art journal, even those who can’t draw. See her work at