Skip to main content

Painted grid backgrounds for posters

Once you've got a pile of background papers that you are in love with, it's easy to forget how difficult it might have been to get there.  I had a lot of mis-steps before I started to achieve pieces that I really liked using this technique, but I luckily ended up with enough for a series of posters to replace the worn out ones at our church.

These backgrounds were painted the old fashioned way, with lots of mess.  I then scanned the ones I wanted to use and formatted them and the text in Photoshop.  Here's how I painted the backgrounds.

1. Paint entire sheet of watercolor paper (I used 140 lb cold press) with a light color and let it mostly dry.

2. Using dilute matte medium, add a layer of tissue paper which is wrinkled.  Drop India ink onto surface and move it around by tilting and with a heat gun.  Allow to dry.

3. Plan out a grid and cut tissue paper shapes a bit smaller than the grid shapes will be.

4. Paint the grid shapes quickly, leaving a border of the background color.  Timing for this step is really crucial: When they are about half dry, cover each with a tissue paper shape, letting the tissue wrinkle if you want.  Press the tissue down into the parts of the paint that are still damp.  "Paint" each shape with water to temporarily adhere the rest of the tissue to the drier paint and to add moisture for the next step.

5. Drop black India ink around the outsides of the tissue paper shapes, and a few splashes here and there inside them.  Let them almost dry.  The tissue that is only adhered by water will begin to lift as the piece dries.

6. Just before the piece is completely dry, rinse off in the sink, removing the tissue paper shapes and some of the ink.  Some of the tissue will stick (hopefully) to the paint beneath and have to be scrubbed off, taking some paint with it.  Wet the piece thoroughly.

7. Allow to dry overnight and iron it between pieces of parchment paper.  

Copyright 2016 Cyndi Lavin. All rights reserved. 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.