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Painted backgrounds: imprinted paper

Imprinting a painted surface with lots of different materials is a fun and easy way to let liquids do their thing. As the paper dries, the materials touching your paper surface allow more pigment to pool in certain spots, leaving you with ghostly impressions of those items.

You can't control the results perfectly, and that's part of the charm of this technique. Spend a bit of time making background papers, and you'll have hours worth of pieces to draw from when your next project strikes!

Materials & Tools:
Watercolor paper
Textured materials
Acrylics, cups, sponges
A place the papers can sit undisturbed while they dry

1. Gather up your textured materials that you plan to use to do the imprinting.

2. Mix up the colors that you want to use. I like to mix my heavy-bodied acrylics to the consistency of cream. I use water, not glazing medium for this, because I want them to dry relatively quickly, and glaze extends the drying time.

3. Saturate watercolor paper well with the colors, moving them around and allowing them to blend. Don't overblend, or the colors may end up muddy. Place your textured materials all over the surface. Allow to dry undisturbed.

4. Remove the textured materials and see what you've got. I plan to tear this piece up into several smaller pieces to use in different projects.

Copyright 2009 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Unknown said…
Very nice tutorial. I've done this technique with permanent inks and dried it quickly in the oven (being careful not to use items that might be toxic when heated on low) and in the sun. The friend who taught the method called it sunprints, and we weighted the items with phone books or heavy boards. I wondered if it could be done with acrylics. I wondered if the items might stick to the surface too much, but I guess diluted paint makes it less adhesive.
Also try it on Yupo paper, paper sized with acrylic mediums, etc.

Kathy (see examples on Etsy - kathydkeith)
Cyndi L said…
These are really similar to sunprints, but since they dry more slowly, you don't end up with the same ghostly images. Both methods are fun :-)

Acrylics work great for sunprints, some colors better than others. I've had most luck with blues, purples, and greens. I've not had any problem with the items sticking, but like you said, the paints are a bit diluted to make it work best. When doing them in bright direct sunlight, there's no need to weight the items down, just to make sure they're not going to shift.