Projects,  Techniques

Further Adventures with Spray Inks

For those of you who are familiar with this blog, you will know that spray inks are one of my all time favourite mediums – I get huge enjoyment from their use and love the effects you can create with them. It’s been a while since I’ve used these inks, but having lent them to my son for his art homework, I was inspired by some of the accidental effects he had created, to dig them out again. This time I have used the medium rather differently, so I thought it would be worth sharing the results. As usual at this time of year, I have used the latest experiments to create my own Christmas cards..

This time instead of using watercolour paper, I experimented with using glossy ink-jet photo paper. This of course comes pre-cut in handy sizes, creates finished artwork with a lovely glossy finish, and gives a sharpness and definition to the artwork that you don’t get on standard paper. The tiny dots which form the artwork have almost a pointillist quality about them akin to the work of Seurat (see example below). The paper coating can also be scratched off with a sharp needle or knife, allowing for additional highlights or details to be scratched in afterwards.

Georges seurat, la senna alla grande-jatte, 1888, 02 barca

For this Project you will need:

Set of Brusho colours – these can be used to create your own water colour sprays, and also for sprinkling on and spraying separately for a different effect.

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This is the paper that I used, other glossy photo papers will probably work just as effectively, but I haven’t tried any others.

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A set of small fine spray bottles, for as many colours as you want to use, plus a spare for plain water.

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Also helpful is some stiff paper or thin card, a coffee stirrer stick and some scissors.

Instructions & Tips

In order to create the artwork shown here, I used the spray inks alongside a paper or card mask to create shapes on the paper with the ink sprays. A sharp line is created by holding the mask close to the page, or a softer more blurred line is created by holding the mask further away (I should perhaps mention at this point that you need to protect both your own clothes and the area around you from excess spray!)

After spraying one colour, leave it to dry for a minute or 2 before adding the next colour so that the layers don’t mix – this will keep the colours pure, and it doesn’t actually take long to dry as long as you are using a fine spray. If you go a little heavy on the spray, you will achieve an altogether different effect as the ink will drip, run and combine.

I used the above technique to create a background, and then added ‘trees’ or other features, by sprinkling Brusho granules onto the paper and spraying on top with plain water, causing the granules to dissolve. I use a coffee stirrer stick to pick up and sprinkle the granules, as very few are needed. You can always add more if needed. The more water you spray, the more the granules with dissolve and run. I find that a small refillable perfume atomiser which gives a tiny spray of water gives maximum control when working on a small scale. Turning the paper or spraying from different angles will help to give a more even effect, and although you cannot completely control how the paint will run here, it is rather like pour painting in that you can tip the paper to encourage it to run where you want it to, so you can have a little creative control.

Once all this had dried again, I was then able to add final small highlight details using a sharp needle tool. I used this to scratch out foreground details such as vegetation, grasses etc., stars, birds, distant trees etc. For my Christmas cards, the highlights were perfect for creating frosty or snowy detail

That’s all there is to it – sounds easy, but as with lots of these things it’s just a matter of experimenting and having fun. From the experiments you create you may well produce a whole stack you aren’t that happy with, but hopefully you will get a few that work really well, and some that might work well if you trim or cut them down in some way – I do this with lots of artwork since there often will be areas I like and areas I don’t – it is well worth learning the art of creative cropping!

The gallery below shows a few more examples of this technique…