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paint flowers from imagination in mixed media

How to paint with acrylic inks and mixed media on canvas

Mixing media is fun but it is sometimes difficult to know where to start, here is a technique you can use to mix watercolors, ink, acrylic  ink and oil markers on canvas.

To paint flowers from imagination with acrylic inks on canvas you will need

  • Canvas, I used 12 x 12 inches pre-stretched canvas
  • Krylon workable fixative
  • Acrylic paint, I used Pebeo in titanium white and Payne’s grey
  • Prismacolor Art stick in black
  • Sharpie White Oil marker
  • Krylon workable fixative
  • Watercolor paint, I used Yarka watercolors.
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Fluid Acrylic or acrylic ink, I used Liquitex Ink in yellow, orange and red
  • Speedball ink in Teal Green
  • Copic white Ink
  • An Ink Pen


You might also like: How to add visual texture to watercolor and acrylic washes.

acrylic inks, watercolor, and marker on canvas

In Barcelona,



Here are the steps you can take to paint with acrylic ink on canvas

Start by painting an abstract background with acrylic ink and alcohol


acrylic inks and fluid acrylic paint

I used a mix of fluid acrylics and ink, but as you can see Speedball Ink is basically the same as fluid acrylic.


Painting an abstract background with acrylic ink

Add a few drops of the colors you want on your canvas and spread them loosely with a brush without mixing them too much.

dripping alcohol on the wet fluid acrylic

You can drip alcohol on the wet fluid acrylic to add more texture.


Let the paint dry completely before going to the next steps.

Finding shapes in the abstract background

I am outlining shapes with a nupastel crayon.

Start looking for shapes and outline them either with a Prismacolor Art stix or with a graphite pencil.

You can see a few outlines.

Paint the negative space with white Acrylic paint

Painting the negative space with white Acrylic paint

Then paint all the negative space with white Acrylic or another color of your choice.

Painting the negative space with white Acrylic paint

Your painting will look something like this.

Add contrast and patterns with pen and ink and sharpies oil marker

Painting the vase with yellow fluid Acrylic

You can add more color to selected elements here I am painting over the vase with yellow fluid Acrylic. You can do it also with watercolors, with the possibility of wiping them off if you don’t like the result.

step by step process

Adding designs with pen and red Ink

Then start adding designs with pen and ink. You can look at Zentangle patterns for inspiration.

Adding designs with pen and red Ink

Add touches of color in some places, here I painted red fluid acrylic in the center of the flowers.

Painting with a bit of the diluted Teal Ink

You can dilute your ink or acrylic in a bit o water so they are more translucent and so you can still see a bit of the texture underneath. Here I am painting with a bit of the diluted Teal Ink.

Stripes with pen and ink

Keep adding layers of designs, here stripes with pen and ink

adding designs with pen and Ink

Add details to the elements in your painting.

Painting leaves with watercolour

Painting leaves with watercolor, watercolor on top of acrylic is neat because if you don’t like the result you can wash it off.

Drawing a peony with pen and ink

You can draw elements with pen and ink on top of the white background.

adding designs with white oil sharpie

And add designs with white oil Sharpie on top of darker backgrounds.

Once the ink has dried, you can paint a wash on top of the drawing.

Once the ink has dried, you can paint a wash on top of the drawing.

And create some highlights by lifting off the paint with a tissue paper

And create some highlights by lifting off the paint with a tissue paper

painting and ink wash

If your marker is water resistant, or if you are using water resistant ink, it won’t bleed when painted over.

drawing with pen and ink

Keep adding designs and layers until you are satisfied with the result.


varnishing the finished painting

When everything had time to dry, paint the sides with white acrylic and apply a layer of varnish.

Mixed media flower painting

In Barcelona

Have you tried painting with mixed media? what was the most challenging for you?

How to paint with acrylic inks and mixed media on canvas
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  • Sue

    Thanks for sharing your lovely work! I just watched your video ‘Painting from the Imagination’ and loved it. I’ve got to try this. It looks like a lot of fun! Have you ever used Neocolor crayons in your paintings; the water soluble or the oil based? Do you know if a fixative would work over these crayons?

    • Thanks Sue, I am glad you liked the video:)
      I am using 2 types of pencils in the painting:
      Prismacolor art stix which are the same as colored pencils (without the wood)
      Watercolor pencils
      both will work and I would recommend to always apply fixative to avoid any smudging you don’t want.

  • I love your work. Can I ask what kind of varnish you use? The last image looks beautifully smooth and glossy.

    • Thanks Kate! I like to use either Gamvar by Gamblin or Soluvar varnish. Both are very liquid and easy to apply and will work on water as well as oil based media.

  • Daniela Giles

    Hello Sandrine. I just wanted to say thank you for all this inspiration. I have used this technique on some of my paintings (intuitive painting), but have never painted vases of flowers. I really love small detail painting….though I have been concentrating more of less is more….I am really wanting to get back to the small details, like using my pen and inks. I have started a flower painting from this blog. I am already happy with it and am at the stage of putting in the details. I am hoping one day to do one of your online courses. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Thanks Daniela ! I agree that less is more, I am always split between my love for minimalist and clean designs and my love for elaborate patterns 🙂

  • Marleyne Mauri

    Yes, but I have difficulty finding markers that are water resistant. You mentioned Sharpie Oil marker? As for the Teal coloured ink, is this printmaking ink? I used “normal ” India ink but it also dissolved when I painted on it with acrylics!

    • The teal coloured ink is ink ( the kind used for calligraphy) I recommend you use waterproof ink or fluid acrylic to avoid any problem.

  • Just love your style so much and one of these days I’m going to give it a try. peace

  • Jackie Herman

    Sandrine, You have been so generous with teaching your techniques. I have had so much fun trying them out. Thank you Thank you!! I have one question for you, what type of varnish do you use and does that protect against UV damage if in sun light? Once again thanks so much your work is wonderful.

    • Thanks Jackie:)
      Right now I am using gamvar picture varnish by Gamblin, which has a kind of UV protection. I any case I would avoid displaying any painting from direct sunlight.

  • Aino

    So pretty! Thank you for sharing your techniques.

  • Anne Luetkemeyer

    Hi, Thank you for the great tutorial. I teach art in Middle school- High school and I really like this technique. It’s great because the students can see what They see, rather than me dictating what we should paint. I love the layers also, to give them time to really develop their ideas. Thanks again. Great illustrations too!

    • Thanks Anne, yes these techniques are working great with teenagers and children! Let me know how it goes if you try it in class 🙂

  • Sandrine – what a great tutorial! Just what this artist needed – have been in a crossroad and you have inspired me.

  • As a mixed media artist, I love trying new things. It’s rare that I can finish a painting without adding something extra, causing it to be mixed. The biggest problem seems to be that I get bottled up, & can’t think of anything different. Being paralized is a huge problem for me. Thank you for kicking me in the butt. I mix a lot of things, but haven’t mixed them all…..yet. Karen

    • Thanks Karen!
      Let me know how it goes 🙂

    • Nancy

      Thank you, I too, feel paralyzed. Thanks for the inspiration…I try to paint 7 days a week if possible, and I run out of ideas, but not now…….

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