Creating Quick Backgrounds #1

Sometimes, when I am creating a Bible journal entry, an art journal page, or a traveler’s notebook page the hardest part is just getting started.  Putting actual color to a blank page can feel intimidating at times, so it is great to have several techniques in your back pocket, ready to pull out and get started.  Today, I am sharing several easy background ideas to help you overcome the fear of the blank page staring at you!

Ink Smooshing

This is a favorite one of mine!  It creates a lot of texture and interesting color mixes, but is not very easy to control.  Ink smooshing is definitely a “loose” technique, but can be very freeing!  To begin, you will need a piece of plastic packaging.  I tend to save mine from all the supplies I buy!  Choose a watercolor and drop a few drops of it onto the packaging. At that point, I generally add a quick spray of water to the packaging to dilute the color even more.  Then, you just take the packaging and smoosh it on to the different parts of the page you are working on.  Before adding more colors, allow the first layer to dry and then switch colors.  If you don’t allow each layer to dry, the colors may begin to get a bit muddy.


You can also use distress inks to accomplish the same technique.  Begin by smooshing the ink onto the plastic packaging.  It actually doesn’t take a lot of ink to get a very saturated color. After the ink is on the packaging, spray the packaging lightly with water to activate the ink and allow is to move more easily.  The more water that you add, the more easily the ink will move once it is on the page. Once the ink is activated, you use the packaging to smoosh it on the page, just like with the watercolor.


Watercolor wash

This is such a fun one to do!  Start by lightly spraying your page with water, to allow the color to move and blend more easily.  Then, select 2 or 3 colors that are close to each other on the color wheel.  Keeping your brush as wet as possible, lay the colors down on the page near each other, allowing them to begin mixing and blending. Watercolors really do work best with water, so the more the better!  Just be careful not to go through your page!  If you are able to let the watercolor dry naturally, you will get the best results as far as blending.  If you are impatient (like me!) you can use a heat gun or paper towel to speed up the drying process.  Make sure the page is completely dry before adding pen or additional layers.


Acrylic Paint swipe

This technique is extremely popular in the Bible journaling community, thanks to Shanna Noel.  It takes very little paint and can easily create a mixed media look with very little technique needed.  To begin, grab an old gift card or plastic credit card.  Place a small amount of paint on the short edge of the card. Then, swipe it down or across the page, whichever look you prefer.  Continue swiping until all the paint is off the card or until you are pleased with how the page looks.  If you plan to layer different colors, make sure each layer dries before adding additional paint.  This technique is a fabulous way to add a lot of color!


Distress Ink blending

Distress ink is absolutely fabulous to play with for making backgrounds.  They blend so well!  Be careful of the colors that you are choosing to blend, making sure that they are close on the color wheel if you intend to blend.  If you prefer to layer colors instead of blending, then there is a little more freedom in the colors you are choosing.  However, the more color you add, the more likely it is that the background will begin to look muddy.


You can use a variety of tools to blend the ink. Ranger sells a line of blending tools, complete with soft felt sponges that make blending easier.  I prefer to have a separate sponge tip for each color so that they don’t mix or contaminate the different ink pads.  I have also found that using cheap blush brushes from the Dollar Tree creates a very soft look on the background!


There are so many fun ways to add splashes of color across the backgrounds of your journaling pages and memory keeping projects!  Which of these techniques are you most excited to try?  Let me know in the comments below!

Keep it creative,

-The Scrappy Wife

Published by Elisa

I'm a mom of 3 who loves all things creative! My current passion is bible journaling, a creative outlet that has really shaped my faith journey. I'm also excited about diving into some memory-keeping projects and dabbling in a bit of art journaling.

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