Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Backgrounds in the White Book

I was asked by some of you about the backgrounds in my daily journal The White Book. I guess when I stuff the pages with writing and collage, you can't really see them all that well, but they do seem to bring up questions, so I thought today I would share my current way of doing backgrounds. Mind you, it's my current way, so it could just change any day. ;-)

It's pretty basic really. I use a small piece of household sponge, some gouache (pans) and these:

That's right, stencils stencils and some more stencils. I love me some stencils! These are all 15x15 cm (6x6 inches) or a little bigger, which is the most practical to work with inside a book. I basically either keep the page white or fill it with a layer of colour (again using the sponge) and then I pick a stencil and a matching colour and sponge the patterns on the background.

That can give results like these: 

The cool thing about this technique is that it doesn't leave razorsharp patterns and edges, but makes everything a little more grungy and less perfect. After this I may or may not add some patterned paper or other details before starting the collage. But this is usually the base right now.

Hope this clarifies things. If you want more ideas for using a sponge and watercolour, I have an old tutorial on it in the tutorial section, or you can just click here.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy week!


  1. You have a great collection of stencils! I like how you use them rather universally to create your backgrounds, and then take your spreads into totally new directions from there. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Andria. I think you've explained why I rarely buy stamps or stencils that really depict something other than patterns or structures. 'Real' images just feel too much like they belong to somebody else and I need to be able to make them my own. There's gorgeous stencils out there with all kinds of imagery like faces or birds and stuff, but I just don't use those.

  2. I like the backgrounds you've made. Where do you find stencils like these?

    1. I get mine in craft supply stores and online. And I often stock up when I go to an art supply fair too. If you buy just one or two at a time it's not too expensive and your collection gradually builds up. You can of course also carve them yourself from acetate sheets if you are so inclined.


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