Step 1: Starting with your darkest colour – in my case Cherry Pie – apply the first layer of paint to your journal pages using a small brayer. I like to apply quite a thin, textured first layer so that the colour of the journal paper shows through in places. Use any spare paint to start a background on a tag or another journal page
Step 2: Clean your brayer. Because the second layer of paint needs to sit on top of the first rather than blend in, wait for the first layer to dry (or use a Heat Tool) before adding your second colour – mine is Tangerine Dream – in the same way as Step 1. I like the patchy, textured effect that using a small brayer gives, so there’s no need to think too much about the placement of the paint.
Step 3: Apply the third layer (Pure Sunshine) in the same way as before. I added too much Pure Sunshine at this stage – it looked very yellow and was covering up a lot of the first two layers, so when it had dried, I added a fourth layer (Cherry Pie) to balance it out and bring back the pink.
Step 4: When the background is dry, add some stencilling using your three background colours. Because I like a grungy effect in my backgrounds, I followed up the stencilling with some random marks made with a palette knife, and then added some Black Marble paint and white gesso drips and splashes with a small paintbrush.
Here’s a close-up of a section of the completed background after I’d finished stencilling and making the marks and splashes.
Step 5: Using plain cardstock – I used Ranger No 8 Manila tags – hand or die-cut twice as many circles as you’re going to need, plus a couple of spares of each. For me, that meant 10 large and 10 small (plus spares). Put half to one side. Use a palette knife to put some of your three paint colours onto your Craft Sheet – you’ll need more of the darkest colour than the other two. Using your finger and starting with the darkest colour, apply paint to the circles, blending the colours slightly as you add them. Adding the paint in an arc that follows the curve of the circle helps to give an impression of dimension to the shapes once they’re on the page. I usually paint just over half of the circle with the first colour, and then use an equal amount of the two lighter shades.
Step 6: Put the painted circles on one side to dry and use the unpainted set to work out their placement on your page. It helps to have chosen your words at this stage so that you can use the letter stamps to help with positioning. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see that I’ve put some of the stamps above the circles so that I can make sure there’s enough room to stamp the words.
Step 7: When you’re happy with the positioning and your painted circles are dry, stick them down with Collage Medium, positioning the circles so that the highlights are all pointing in the same direction
Step 8: When the Collage Medium is dry, cut the edges off any circles that are overlapping the edges of your journal page, and use a fine paintbrush to edge the circles with Black Marble paint. Because my background was deliberately grungy, I didn’t mind that the edges weren’t done perfectly neatly. Using Jet Black Archival Ink, stamp your chosen words around the top of the large circles. I normally put the un-inked letter stamps in place before stamping them so that I can be confident they’re in the place I want them to be…and for the same reason, stamp each letter individually rather than the whole word at once. You can see that I ended up moving the placement of a couple of the words from their original location – the letter stamps fitted more comfortably this way.
Step 9: The Clearly Alpha stamps have an etched fill, so for this spread I’ve filled them in using a Black Marble paint pen: the solid fill really makes them stand out against the background.
Step 10: When the filled-in letters are dry, add some highlights to the letters and the black edging of the circles with a White Linen paint pen. Finally, finish the spread by edging the page with Black Marble paint on a mini blending tool.
Here is the finished spread along with a close-up that really shows the texture of that brayered background, and the way in which the paint on the circles blends differently each time to make them all unique.