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There is so much fun to be had with watercolors in your art journals! Today I thought I would share some of my favorite watercolor painting techniques that will help you get started in your way to creating unique and fun pages.

8 Fun & Easy Watercolor Techniques for Painting With Watercolors

These techniques are super fun and easy! And of course, don’t forget to check out our tutorial on the basics of how to paint with watercolors for some other great tips and ideas for working with watercolors in your art journal!

1. Salt & Glue Technique

salt and glue watercolors art journal technique

This is a fun technique I picked up from Pinterest as an idea of things to do with kids for fun.  Start with a blank page and paint a scene or an abstract background. While the paper is still wet, sprinkle some salt onto the page. (Table salt works fine – or you can experiment with other salts such as sea salt or kosher salt – the larger the salt grains the bigger the salt spots will be.) Then add some glue.

Once the painting is dry, it can be really hard to get that salt off the page! I’ve found that gently rubbing it with a dry sponge can help get it off – just be careful not to scratch the paper!

2. Rubbing Alcohol and Watercolor

watercolor techniques for art journaling

Alcohol and water don’t mix, so it creates a neat effect when you add some rubbing alcohol to your painting.

I’ve found to get this effect to work well, you need to really make your paper wet! Also, try to use a higher concentrate of alcohol (ie: 91% as opposed to 70%).

You’ll notice that the places where the alcohol was splashed is where the lighter circles are formed.

3. Tissue Paper Technique

Have some old tissue paper or paper towels lying around? Great! Scrunch it up and after painting a piece of paper with some bright and deep colors, making sure your paper is nice and wet, press down on it gently with the crumpled up tissue paper. You’ll get a great texture for your pages this way! This can be a lot of fun to use for making art journal backgrounds – especially because the paint lifts off to create some very neat effects and textures!

#4. Wax Resist Technique

watercolor wax resist technique

We often used this technique whenever we would dye Easter Eggs as a kid – we would draw on our eggs with crayons, then dip into the dye. The part covered with the crayon wax would not be dyed, so it would reveal a design after you dyed it.

Water colors work in a similar way! To try this technique, start by drawing some lines, shapes, or another design on your paper with a white crayon or using the edge of a white candle. Then start painting! The paint will not go anywhere the wax is on the paper, so it’s a very fun & simple way to make some very neat designs!

#5. Paint Splatter Watercolor Technique

watercolor paint splatter

Toothbrushes make for the perfect splatter tool with watercolors. Of course, you can always use a nice large dry watercolor brush as well. Simply dip the edge of the bristols into your color of choice, and slide your thumb over the bristols onto your page. This is a great effect to try if you are looking to add some “grunge” to the page.

#6. Paint Drips

paint dripping watercolor techniques Okay, so this technique is SUPER messy – but that IS part of the fun, right? With this technique, you will want two pieces of paper. On one piece of paper, take some watercolors and LOTS of water – you want it way more wet than you would typically do when painting. Then, simply let the water drip down and make streaks & drops all over the page. Another super fun and easy way to make unique art journal backgrounds!

#7. Smoosh-it Technique

smoosh it art journal watercolor page background idea I’m not really sure that “Smoosh-it” is a technical term, but that’s pretty much what we do in this method and the results are really quite interesting! For this technique, again you will need 2 sheets of watercolor paper. Basically, we will be sort of using these two sheets of paper like we would for making gelli plate prints. First, layer up some paints and water on one sheet of paper. Then, take the second piece of paper and smoosh it on top! Peel off the top layer of paper and you’ll have two very interesting designs! You can also experiment with doing this with painted watercolor pages that have already dried and then applying some paint/water over top – and yes, this is a wonderful way to use up those not-so-pretty art journal fails you have leftover from projects!

#8. Lift-Off: Make Designs Lifting Paint From Watercolors

This is a very simple thing to do and all you will need is either a dry paint brush or you can use a little piece of paper towel/tissue. Simply paint any area of the page – and then using either a dry brush or by wrapping a tissue around the end of a paintbrush, dab in some dots, stripes, or other designs in your watercolor page.

Any Other Watercolor Techniques or Ideas We Should Try?

What other fun watercolor techniques have you tried in making your art journal backgrounds and pages? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below! And of course as I learn new watercolor painting ideas I will be adding them to this page. I am always experimenting with watercolors in my art journals, and have so much fun exploring the so many different ways you can use watercolors!

I hope you find this helpful, and of course, if you have any questions about how to start an art journal, share your questions in the comments section below or join us in our Facebook Community Group to connect with others!

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  1. thanks for the invitation to join this forum… just bought my first journal; and a brand new box of watercolor pencils…funny; i had a lot of ideas for starting an art journal..then when i got the stuff; seems like i forgot most of the ideas brewing in my head…so, i am looking forward to reading all the blogs; ideas and techniques!

    1. LOL…I thought I was the only one this happened to. I know this is an old post but I am new to Art Journaling and trying to figure it out. Thank you!

  2. Placing scrunched up plastic wrap on a paper you have painted with watercolor creates a very nice texture. You will need to let the watercolor dry before removing the plastic wrap.

  3. use a 9.5 by 14 cookie pan with a half inch lip. Squirt a thin layer of shaving cream onto the pan. Put Watercolors into spray bottles. Spray on the shaving cream. Lower a piece of watercolor paper onto the pan. You may need to pat the paper lightly so that it gets lots of color. Remove the paper and let dry. Try swirling the colors to get a marble effect on the paper.

  4. To get some fantastic texture try spreading geso &modeling paste together ( this gives diferent levels) onto a piece of mount board. Leave overnight then pour 2 or 3 interesting colous of ink on to the textured surface and then spin the card on one corner then lay flat ,cover with scrunched gling film ,lift one edge slightly and then using an eye dropper,run extra colour behind the film.The ink runs into the chanels made by the film,leave to dry over knight before removeing film.
    Experiment &enjoy

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