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Experiment on postcard with watercolor, alcohol, acetone, acrylic, hypotrochoid designs (spirograph) and patterns

Watercolor doesn’t have to be serious and technical all the time, have fun experimenting with watercolor , spirograph and zentangle designs on ARTiful, painting demos

Here are some techniques you can try with watercolor, mixed media and spirograph.

First postcard

tree with designs and patterns

Here are the steps you can take to paint this first postcard.

taping the postcard

Start by taping the postcard onto a small board with masking tape so it will be easier to work and you will get cleaner sides when the painting is done.

painting the background

Paint the background first, with a wet in wet technique, letting the colors blend on the paper.

background colors

I used Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Lemon Yellow Sap green and a bit of burnt sienna.

drops of alcohol

If you want to to add texture and complexity to the background, drip alcohol onto the watercolor wash.

Wait for the wash to dry.


Next step is the fun part with an hypotrochoid set :) (spirograph)

adding spirograph patterns

Add a few patterns, here I used  with the green pen that comes with the set and try a few ones with a white gel pen, they don’t show very much.

painting with white copic marker ink

Then draw the outline of a tree with a pencil and paint in white all the negative space using white Copic White ink and a brush.

negative space painted in white

All the negative space has been painted in white, some of the spirograph design are still visible through the paint, which I find is a nice effect. You could also use acrylic paint to paint the negative space. If you want to, you can add a bit of color to the background.

adding a wash of watercolor to the background

Here I did  mix a very light yellow-green wash from Sap green and Cadmium Yellow and am painting on top of the copic white. I thought copic white was waterproof but it actually isn’t so I am careful not to disrupt the underlayer of white when painting over with the green wash.

adding a wash to the tree

I also want to unify a bit the colors of the tree, so I am glazing it with a mix of Burnt Sienna and Sap Green.

patterns with sharpies

When everything has dried, add another layer to the design and start drawing patterns with a sharpie.

crochet looking pattern

You could look at zentangles designs to find inspirations for your pattern.

the finished postcard

The finished postcard

Second postcard

postcard hypotrochoid and patterns

Here is the second postcard,  made using the same techniques, except watercolor has been mixed with with acetone and the design is a bit more simple.

painting with acetoneYou can dilute a watercolor wash in alcohol or acetone instead of water, they will have a similar effect but I find that the smell of acetone is stronger and that it also tends to increase pigments granulation.  You need to dilute the paint in a bit of water before adding the acetone as acetone by itself won’t dilute the paint.

painting a a wash with acetone

Start by painting a wash with a few colors, acetone is giving a bit more body to watercolors than would water by itself so the paint seem to move more slowly on the paper.

dripping acetoneDripping acetone on the wet wash seem to have a similar effect from what you could obtain with alcohol, only a bit more subtle.

spirograph drawingWhen everything is dry, draw a few patterns using your hypotrochoid set, with a pencil this time, you can add a few tiny designs like here I added flowers with my white gel pen.

Start drawing your design with a fine point sharpie.

drawing a design with sharpieThis time I just go for a simple circular design.

working in concentric circlesWork in concentric circles. When you are done,you can adjust the colors if you want to. Here I wanted a bit more blue so I am painting a wash of blue on top of the designs.

light cobalt blue washI did add a Cobalt blue wash in some circles only to add variety.

finished paintingThe finished postcard.

Feel free to share picture of your postcards in the comments!

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{ 18 comments… add one }

  • hendjd83035300 October 30, 2015, 4:53 am

    I’m hooked. Finished 2 postcards & ready to move to canvas.

  • Kaye Mero July 1, 2014, 6:37 pm

    I signed up for your newsletters, but am not receiving them. I love your work and would like to receive your newsletter and get the download. Unfortunately, the website tells me I’m already signed up and won’t let me get the download or take my information for the newsletter. Can you help?

  • nancy April 29, 2014, 1:24 pm

    Your technique is very interesting.

  • froebelsternchen April 15, 2014, 11:42 pm

    fantastic sharing Sandrine – thanks a lot!
    I try out new techniques on ATCs or tags or I trys it in my Art Journal…

  • Kathryn April 1, 2014, 9:04 pm

    Love the process ! Have just had a class on clouds so the less favourite ones are about to be spirographed!

    Thanks for a great technique and I hope it works on yupo as well!

  • Chris Ruys April 1, 2014, 7:31 am

    You are very generous in sharing your process. I look forward to your emails and wish you continued success.

  • Jane Hinchliffe March 18, 2014, 1:05 pm

    Wonderful tutorial and exciting techniques. Thank you for your generous sharing…

  • Lori Bagneres March 18, 2014, 8:17 am

    This is very cool Sandrine! Way to go!

  • Louise March 18, 2014, 7:53 am

    I like to way you use Spirograph as a background to your own graphic design. Great idea!

    And to answer your question, I prefer to work on small size when I try new techniques or medium. Postcard to 8×10 size usually.

  • Nicole March 18, 2014, 7:02 am

    I love when you post about your experiments…..beautiful postcards

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