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Spirograph Tree: Using a spirograph for visual texture

spirograph tree
Inspiration / Mixed media / Painting / Painting technique / Popular posts / Step by step demonstrations

Spirograph Tree: Using a spirograph for visual texture

If you like to work in layers for your paintings, you usually start with some background of visual texture. There are many ways to make this background, recently I have been looking at using a Spirograph to add that visual texture: It is fun to use and fast ans you get beautiful geometric shapes on your background.

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Here are the steps I took

using terraskin stone paper on mixed media paintings

I worked on Teraskin stone paper because it has a very smooth texture that will be very nice to work with the spirograph. I used a 12 x 12 inches panel to outline my painting are on the paper.

painting on terraskin
using a Spirograph to draw textures

You can leave a bit of extra space on the sides.

Using a spirograph, yo can start to add patterns to your background. Here with a Sakura Pigma micro marker.

using a pencil with Spirograph
Spirograph fine liner

You can also use a pencil.

Here is a close up of some of the textures I get.

adding visual texture with a spirograph
painting on top of Spirograph visual texture
Spirograph and Indian Ink

To make your background a bit darker, you can paint a layer of Indian Ink, and add a bit of texture with rubbing alcohol

Adding a bit of diluted India Ink on top of the Spirograph patterns.

India Ink spirograph

You can make your ink wash a gradated wash, darker on one end, so the branches of the tree will look lighter as you go higher on your painting.

alcohol textures on India ink
alcohol visual textures

You can use your thumb to add drops of alcohol on your paper.

India ink and alcohol wash
layering for visual texture
India ink texture on top of Spirograph patterns
Spirograph patterns
painting the negative space on top of India ink

The alcohol will add textures to the India Ink wash

Working from a reference picture, you can start painting all the negative space in white, leaving only the branches and the tree in black

white acrylic over India ink

Try to make the branches smaller as they get further away from the tree.

painting a tree negative space
copying a reference picture

You don’t have to copy exactly your reference picture but it will give you a guideline to paint the space around the branches.

watercolor on top of acrylic paint

I want to add a bit of blue on the painting and make the branches lighter on the sides so I am mixing a bit of Turquoise watercolor with China White (gouache)

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Holbein Acryla Gouache, 152 Chinese White, 20 ml

Acryla Designer Gouache is a fast-drying, opaque acrylic based watercolor paint. It’s water soluble while wet, and water-resistant, matte and opaque, even over dark surfaces. Great for grounds and layering.

India ink and mixed media

You can paint that mixture on top of the India ink. I would recommend you try first on a corner of your paper to see if your India Ink is truly waterproof of if you would need to spray a layer of fixative before painting with the watercolor and gouache.

painting drying at an angle

You can let your painting dry at an angle to get a gradated wash, denser on the top of the painting.

tree painting with Spirograph visual texture

The finished painting: Spirograph tree

4.4/5 - (5 votes)

Comments (15)

  1. Kimberley Broyles

    For Christmas last year, my husband got me the anniversary edition Spirograph, which is made of diecast metal. It survived the second round of decluttering this fall because I thought it would be handy for creating mandalas. After seeing your post here, I have even more ideas for it. I love your newsletters and blog posts. You always bring fresh ideas to mixed media!

    1. Haha :), I laughed at ” It survived the second round of decluttering this fall”. Thanks Kimberley,

  2. Jeanette Weaver

    Dear Sandrine you have such clever ideas.

    Thank you

    1. Thanks Jeanette !

  3. Nancy

    Did you sketch out the tree before filling in the white space?

    1. I did a rough sketch for the trunk and the main branches but for the tiny branches, I made most of them up.

  4. Nicole

    I love to read your newsletter. I always find something interesting and beautiful =)

    1. Thanks Nicole, I am very glad to hear you are enjoying the newsletter and the tutorials 🙂

  5. Eddi Reid

    I like the background using this method. You are so consistently creative that my imagination is newly challenged. I don’t have a spirograph but you can bet it won’t be long before one appears!
    Thank you Sandrine.

    1. Thank you Eddi! I will take that compliment 🙂

  6. donna

    Thank you for this demonstration. The underlying textures really complete the rest of the piece.
    One of the steps shows crinkled edges of the paper. Did you mount the paper
    on to a heavier paper after this step?
    I still use my son’s Spirograph with other techniques of drawing and designs.
    (Even after 35 years, all of the original pieces, including the pens, are still in the box!)
    This demonstration has given me new inspirations for future pieces. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Donna!
      My first idea was to mount that painting on board once done, but I changed my mind and might leave it just on paper. I left quite a large margin on the sides so I could cut a bit to make it clean.

  7. SD

    thanks for sharing. Loved spirograph as a kid.
    Was the white paint you used acrylic or watercolor? You seem to mix a lot of different mediums which I’m always hesitant to try.
    Are there any permanent markers that work well with acrylic paints?
    thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks SD. Yes the white paint is acrylic.
      If you spray fixative medium in between layers and follow the rule of fat over lean, you can mix pretty mix any media.
      Fat over lean means oil paint or oil pastels over acrylic is ok, but not the opposite.
      Sakura pigma micron markers will work well over acrylic, comic markers too.

      1. Nancy

        I learned this rule as a rhyme: “Oil over acrylic is idyllic.”

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