Creating Decorative & Painted Papers

If you have kids who enjoy painting and drawing, you may find yourself acquiring quite a large stock of painted papers. For every masterpiece produced there will be a whole stack of less impressive artwork, and the temptation is always to put them straight into the recycling bin, but these painted papers can have a second life recycled into further artwork, saving some money in the process.

In fact now my kids are older and no longer want to paint and draw (sob) my stack of painted papers is much depleted, so that I now have to create my own! It has however, become one of my favourite occupations, as there is no (self-inflicted) pressure to produce a finished piece of artwork, but simply an excuse to play. Anything goes!

I have always had a tendency to ascribe too much importance to the finished result, but if there is one thing that children’s art has taught me, it’s that enjoying the process and learning along the way is just as, if not more important.

So this piece is a round-up of techniques, resources and projects that you can use to create painted papers, and ideas for using them. I hope you find it useful!


Of course the range of techniques available to decorate your painted papers is pretty unlimited, so here are just a few suggestions from previous projects to get you started:

Unlike with printing, where an item is inked and applied to a page to create an image, frottage does the opposite, and uses and item to remove paint from where it is applied, resulting in some very special effects…

Click on the title above to find out more.

There’s more than one way to paint with bubbles, and this post introduces you to 3.

Click on the title above to find out more…

A very simple technique which creates some beautiful effects.

Click on the title above to see the original post…

A classic technique, paste papers have been created for centuries for use in bookbinding, and lining boxes and drawers.

You can view the original post by clicking on the title above to find out how…

More Ideas

I don’t find time to blog about everything I do, so here are a few more brief ideas that haven’t always made it to the page!

Printing with Cookie Cutters

Of course it doesn't just have to be cookie cutters, try experimenting with whatever you have to hand, try natural materials, found objects or simply hands and feet - this is great to do both indoors and outdoors

Scrape Art

I used an old credit card for the purpose, but experiment with different tools to scrape the paint, both window squeegees and a tiling tool (used for spreading tile adhesive) give fantastic different effects.


Graffiti Paper

This paper uses several different techniques in layers to create a very painterly effect.


Another old and traditional technique which can be used with great skill to create beautiful papers. It is many years since I tried this, and I don’t have any photos to share, but there are excellent marbling kits available containing everything you need to have a go, and even a beginner can create successful results. Click on the image left for kits (affiliate link).

Digital Papers

Ok so this could be described as cheating, but there is a a lot less mess, and all you need for these is a printer and scanner:

Pixelated Papers

Use your own colourful photographs to print out these beautiful decorative papers...


Scanner Papers

Use a home scanner and found materials to create decorative digital papers...

And If all Else Fails...

If in spite of everything, you need material quickly and you simply find you don’t have the time to create your own, then try some of the following:

All and any of these will add their own character to a project, and will often work well in combination with your own painted and decorative papers

Inspirational Books for More Ideas

I can personally recommend both of the books below if you can get hold of them second hand. If you click on the affiliate links below there are a number of copies still available. Unfortunately I couldn’t find much in the way of more recent books on the subject!

Next Time

Projects, resources and techniques for using your papers!

Creating Decorative & Painted Papers