Week 12: Spray Paint Marbling & Mixed Media Drawings

Recently in my Intermediate Drawing a student showed me samples she’d created using spray paint to marbleize paper. This was really interesting and I hadn’t seen anything like it despite my blatant obsessiveness with Pinterest.

Nora E.’s experiment with spray paint marbleizing (above) inspired a whole series of pieces on printmaking and watercolor paper.

Of course, this prompted immediate youtube searches for the technique and it is pretty easy and inexpensive so I though – why the heck not?

I bought a can of graphite-colored spray paint from Home Depot and used a $1 metal turkey roaster liner from Wal-Mart to create a bunch of tests using Reeves BFK (a printmaking paper), Bee Paper cold-pressed watercolor paper (140lb), and paint samples left over from my studio make-over. I also tested out some Sumi Ink, acrylic ink, and spray metallic shimmer in the process.



I covered my concrete porch with red rosin paper (which is like brown craft paper and can be bought in a giant roll at home supply stores) to protect it from the spray paint and then went to work. The sumi ink worked well even without additives to the water but it didn’t stick to the paint samples. The acrylic ink did squat. The metallic sprays actually didn’t do too bad but they weren’t very dark or noticeable. In the end I found that the spray paint stuck to just about everything.

I was particularly happy with the way that spray paint soaked into the BFK because the plasticity that I associate with it was not as evident. The absorbancy made it quite promising. The watercolor paper also did well but overall I feel that the printmaking paper was the best surface.

In the end I had a lot of pieces on paint samples but I didn’t like them as much because the surface was super fragile and they stayed fairly shiny. I’d torn a large sheet of BFK down so I had 14 total pieces that were 5.5 x 7.5 inches each. I also had 6 watercolor pieces that were 6×9 inches each.


I measured off windows on the BFK and watercolor pieces and brushed on a thin layer of gesso (white acrylic medium) to create a lower contrast work area. I plan on using these pieces for collaborations with my students in the next 3 weeks so I felt this would make these pieces more approachable.


I also added minimal drawn pen and ink elements such as roots, shells, flowers, and birds to get the ball rolling. Students who bring me a work they’ve started that is smaller than 6×8 will have the option to pick any of these. They’ll then add to mine while I add to theirs – then we’ll return them to one another to finish.

I’m excited to see who takes advantage of the opportunity. I’ve already completed two student pieces at this time (I’ll share results soon) and I have 3 other students working on their creations for the exchange this weekend. Despite offering zero course credit or bonus points there seems to be a lot of positive interest.

I challenged them to make it hard for me… fingers crossed. I’ll be sure to post the results throughout the coming weeks.


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