Let’s Get Messy! DIY Inks and Sprays.


My art journal pages have included a lot of shimmer sprays and spray “inks” lately.  I don’t know if I’ve shared how I make them, so I thought I would.

When I first started making the sprays I used my watercolor paints.  I use distilled water and added some of the watercolor paint from the tubes of colors I have.  As we all know, I have a lot of watercolor paints.  The inexpensive brands worked for me.  I used small spray bottles and filled the bottle about half way with water, then added the color from the tube.  I used as much color as needed to make the spray as dark as I wanted it.   This worked well, and the watercolors came in a set with a variety of colors already mixed.  Easy way to make spray “inks”.

I also used Rit Dye in the liquid form from Walmart.  This worked pretty well too, and is easy to get anywhere.

I made some with rubbing alcohol too.  They are supposed to be like alcohol inks.  I used 2 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol from Dollar Tree.  These have worked for me but, again, I have nothing to compare them to.

As we all know I am all about the sparkle.  After I made the original sprays, I wanted some shimmer in them.  I used my cakes of eye shadows, crushed them to make them a powder and added them to the sprays.  This also worked but I have found the sprayer clogs often, which I find incredibly frustrating.  Later I found the powdered eye shadows at Dollar Tree and used them.  These don’t seem to muck up the sprayer as much, but there is still some clogging and frustration.

Then I discovered a tutorial from Lindsay the Frugal Crafter-who is a genius, in my opinion.  In it she mentions you need to swirl the bottles that contain the eye shadow so you don’t get the particles stuck up in the mechanism of the sprayer.

I have been shaking the snot out of the spray bottles…Lindsay also mentioned liquid watercolors.  I was not even aware these were available until I saw her tutorial.  So I ordered the three colors needed for mixing:  magenta, yellow and turquoise.  Blicks also had a magenta glitter watercolor hugely discounted and I thought, why not?  Maybe I can get the same effect with that as I can with the eye shadows, without the clogging.  (There are metallic watercolors too, which I think I’ll buy and add to the mixes, rather than adding the eye shadows…)  They have been sitting in my cupboard for months and I thought I’d try them today.

 liquid watercolors

Okay, the colors are lovely, they blend together well and I can mix pretty much any color I want.  They work well in the sprayers when there is no eye shadow in them.

No matter which method I used; the watercolor paint from tubes, the liquid watercolors, and the Rit Dye, they all clogged up a bit when I added the  eye shadow.  Maybe it’s my bottles and tops which are causing the problem, but when it’s just straight color and water-without the added eye shadow-they spray fine.

With the liquid watercolors: I would mix the colors together first, then add distilled water.  I found I was a bit to liberal with the water and it gave me a pale color.  I couldn’t really add more color because the spray bottle was full.  I had to pour half into another bottle and add more color to both.   The good news is by adding different mixes to each, I had two different colors when I was finished.  (If you want pale colors, I started with three quarters of the spray bottle filled with water then added color on top of that.)  I did not add any of the magenta with glitter in it as I was worried it, too, would clog up the works.

Since I have no shimmer inks, I have nothing to compare with the ones I made.  I can tell you I am pleased with the colors and it took little effort to make them.


Art Journal Prompts


As you can tell, I’ve been playing in my art journals for a while now.  I have art journal prompts I use when I am stuck or just want an adventure.

I tried to create a PDF of the journaling prompts, but my computer began updating and I’m still waiting…Here is the list I typed up:


Art Journal Prompts:


Use craft paints         Use clocks/time      Use only 2 colors

use lace or trims              sketch something             use a book reference

Use purple         Spatter paint       Use texture        Use the color wheel

Use enamel dots        Use paper beads       use recycled paper towels

make a Zentangle         use woodgrain              use the color orange

Use foam core            doodle             use fibers       use dots             use fun foam

Use a checkerboard pattern             use charcoal              monochromatic page

Use a graphite pencil    use 3 random colors        use your least favorite color

Layout using sunshine/the sun        border stamps, stencils or stickers      Use hearts

Use Words      use a paper doll         use 3 different media of the same color

Mimic the style of a great artist you admire            Use alphabet stamps or stickers

Use non-alphabet stickers    Use chipboard           Use brads/grommets

Use markers            use a crayon                use metallic elements

Use a black background       use colored card stock           use hot glue

Use patterned papers           chalk-board style            favorite quote

Geometric shapes     use watercolor pencils          favorite flower

Use a rubber band     use emphemera        use a book page       use a napkin

Use a geometric pattern       use a poem    use a credit card scraper

Use glitter pens or glue         use tissue paper        use ribbon

use junk mail        use a palette knife                 use plastic wrap

Decorative edged scissors    use die cuts             use a non-art material

Use Lemon Yellow     Use Mod Podge          Use a stencil

Use your non-dominate hand           crumpled paper         use stamps    use gel pens

Use a resist           collage something                use a water-soluble media

use chalks                     use modeling paste                                          use a dark color

Follow a you-tube tutorial         use a new, unused supply            use the color red

Antique a page           favorite color combinations         use numbers

use a black pen         use a page from a magazine          use a music reference

Use a cartoon character       use spray inks            use glitter       use tape

Use acrylic paints      use a paint pen          use scraps             use a face

Add an element from nature            circles             diamonds       stars

Finger paint    use a toothbrush       use a recycled item       use a sponge

Use gesso       use a coloring page     use washi tape           use a homemade supply

use a tag       use a photograph                 use wrapping paper         use a puzzle piece

use thread            use paper punches        use buttons          use colored pencils

use a dryer sheet       use lines                       use swirls         use a title

I put mine on watercolor paintings I didn’t care for and mixed media pages.  I cut them into 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 size.  I keep them in a small box in my “most used supplies” storage unit behind my desk.  I tried to include only those things I thought most people would have in their stash.

My Middle Name Should Be Tenacious.

After I made the lapbook, which I don’t care for, I was determined to make one that could actually work as an art journal.  I found this tutorial.  The woman on this video didn’t care for the other lapbook either and quit making her’s.  She decided this one would be more functional.  She’s absolutely right.  There is plenty of room for art journalling in this one which is what I had made the books for in the first place.

I have every intention of using the other lapbook I made because I cannot throw it out without trying to make something of it.  I do think this newest version is much more functional and practical for my purposes.

Of course I made it with recycled manila file folders.  This is a fast, frugal and fun project which will actually be useful for me.

Texture Cards

I’ve been playing around with my manila folders and cut the large ones into thirds.  This gives me 6 large tags to use from one folder.

I am using these to make art journal texture cards.  These are cards with the various types of materials you can put on your page to create textures.  Here are some of my cards:

Cotton Batting

Aluminum Foil

Parchment paper, crumpled

plastic wrap

tissue paper

fun foam

sand paper



plastic bags


paper towels

dryer sheets

used disposable paint palettes

hot glue


drywall tape

modeling paste

bubble wrap



spattered paint

ripped paper



beads, buttons, sequins



Each of these can create all sorts of interesting backgrounds for you art journal pages.  I adhere mine to the cards with gloss gel medium.  It works well and dries clear.

If you’re stumped as to what to do for a background, give some of these a try.  They add so much texture to your page which is one of the best parts of multi-media art.

Yes! This Stuff Rocks!


This is my adhesive of choice for my art journal books.

In this post I gave you suggestions for inexpensive art journals.  I use this paste to glue two thin pages together.  In the composition books this gives you a fifty page journal, rather than 100 very thin pages.  This Yes! paste is incredibly strong, archival, and will last forever.  I have had mine for a couple of years and still have most of it, not even a quarter of the jar is used.

When you get a new jar, the first thing you need to do is smear petroleum jelly around the threads of the lidThis is very important.  This stuff sticks like crazy and you will glue the lid onto the jar. In fact, I re-apply the petroleum jelly every 5 or so uses, just to be sure the lid will remove.  (Experience speaking here.)

Using an old gift card, I spread the paste onto the paper.  Very thinly.  I lay the opposite page on top of the glued one, and using another old credit card, I smooth the page flat.  This drys slowly, so if you get wrinkles when doing this just pull the two pages apart, lay the page down again and try it over again.  I put waxed paper between my glued pages and let them dry.

Yesterday I used this on an art journal and today I made sure the pages were not stuck to the waxed paper.  They are perfectly smooth, no ripples or problems of any kind.  I love this stuff.

My Purpose In Life



I have worked for the past 18 years in theatre, as a set artist and designer.  Along with Laurie, the two of us have been set dressers and prop masters.  I have been the stage manager, worked on sound and lighting, helped with costumes, been an assistant director and taught theatre classes.  I have worked with hundreds of students in the school productions and hundreds of adults in the community productions.

Why do I do this and why is it important?

Because there is a place for everyone in theatre.  We live in an area which focuses on sports, but not all kids are into that.  The non-sports kids have a place with us.  Those students who don’t quite “fit in” are welcomed.  The “fringe” kids, those on the edge and could easily fall through the cracks, are embraced for their uniqueness.  We treasure diversity and encourage all to pursue their dreams.

If there is no theatre, what is the option for these kids?  Where do they find their place?  Or do they just drift into a dark space, unable to see a way out?

I’m completely serious about this.

I believe, absolutely, theatre in school is as vitally important to students as math, science, and history.  I have seen the difference this makes in the lives of kids, how they thrive and grow in the theatrical environment.  This is an amazing thing to witness and I have been privileged to be part of it.

Which is why I have devoted my adult life to it.  This is not an exaggeration.  I made a list of the plays I could remember off the top of my head and came up with 78.  I have worked on far more than that.  Honestly, there have been so many I simply cannot remember them all.  More often, I remember the set colors rather than the name of the play or musical.  I’ve painted so many castles, I have run out of color combos I want to use…Stones and bricks have become the most hated things I paint because I have done them so often.  Creating a wonderful backdrop for the stories told by our students is what interests me.  They deserve the best set I can provide for them, and that passion has never left me.

Community theatre is another place I do what I do.  And while I think community theatre is valuable, it does not mean as much to me as the work I do with the students.  My work in the schools provides the kids with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.  An experience which helps them grow and mature as people.  The lessons they learn in theatre are lessons they will carry with them throughout their lives.

Seems like a worthwhile way to spend my time.

DIY Quick Tip

If you are a pastel artist and would like to make your own surfaces, here’s how:

Paint the surface you are going to be using with clear gesso.  This provides the tooth you need.

This can be painted on mat board, paper, card stock, foam core-whatever you can think to work on.  It works very well and is cost effective.