Fun with Gesso BONUS!!

I wonder how many great discoveries happened with the simple thought “What if I…”  Chocolate and peanut butter, Mint and Chocolate, Rum and Coke could have and all probably did start with the simple thought of…

“What if I…”

Now I am in no way considering this on the scale of Chocolate and Peanut butter or even Rum and Coke…although I might be willing to take on chocolate and mint…

As you know we have been playing with Gesso and if you didn’t know you can check out the lesson here. As I was working tonight on some smaller bits of artwork and painting with my watercolours and thinking about how I would LOVE more Tombows but how they were so darn expensive and  and shipping charges are stupid (insert internal blah, blah, blah here) and I would also love to be able to teach my students in September how to do all the things that I have been learning in the last couple of months.

The problem is that Tombow markers are awesome and expensive. For those who don’t know what a Tombow marker is its a water-soluble marker that once you colour with it you can add water and paint with it like watercolour paints. If I wanted to use Tombow markers in the classroom I would need a lot of them and kids ruin/break/disrespect/etc/etc supplies and I hate spending money on things that are easy to slip into your pocket and “forget to hand back” It doesn’t happen a lot and in general I have good students but I would rather spend the schools money on good and inexpensive supplies than good and expensive supplies.

So back to my “Ah-Ha” moment.

I was painting away and thinking about how the gesso allows the paint to sit on the surface and takes a bit longer to dry…mainly because I had just stuck my finger in it…and I thought “I wonder if my Crayola markers will sit on the surface of the gesso and take longer to dry also?”

O-M-G and a chorus of Angels singing Hallelujah!! Totally works my friends!

I simply used them as I would my Tombow markers by colouring with them and adding water using a paintbrush. The main thing that I noticed is that the colours did get lighter when I added the water to them. Not in the same way that the Tombows would blend to get a lighter tint but in a bleed all over and not want to blend kinds way. I can work with that. I simply used less water and added more marker to it when it was dry if I wasn’t happy with the final results. By the way I should mention that I used the markers on top of piece of paper that I had previously used spray inks and gesso on. Some of the splotchies are from the ink in the first steps (specifically the green blots by my thumb)

Don’t bother trying to add more markers when it is wet though. It just sucks that water up into the markers and it stops adding colour.

Another trick that I figured out happened when I was trying to make and area look like it was fading from light to dark. Wasn’t happening how I wanted it to and then i noticed that when I lifted the marker a little spot of extra ink was left on the paper. It wasn’t being absorbed quickly by the paper and just sat on the surface. So in all the areas that you see the arrow I simply added dots of colour to make it darker. Now you might be thinking to yourself “Ok but then I am going to be left with a million tiny dots” Nope

Because the colour is not being absorbed into the paper it bleeds out…it spreads…it softens. I didn’t do anything special but dot, dot, dot and the colours started to spread out  and created a darker shade of the colour that I was working with.

It also allowed the the water blots that I LOVE to do in my work. Simply dropping a bit of water into a wet bit of marker and letting it spread around creates some fantastic marks and textures.


both of these images are simply some extra paper i had left over from my gesso lesson and I thought that it would be good to try out some ideas on. The crayolas are definitely not Tombows. You have to work fairly quickly with them to get them blended out. The darker colours want to leave a line in the paper but if you have a paintbrush in hand and get it wet quickly you are going to be able to create some lovely colours and blends of colours using a really inexpensive and readily available art material!!!

This is really exciting for me because not I have a plan on how i can teach this to my students in the fall without having to spend a ton of money to do it…and I think I can supplement my own Tombow markers when I need to make a colour just so.

Word of caution though. There is probably no way that these markers have any archival qualities to them. Do not expect the colour to last for ever and expect that they will fade over time. I would not guess that they have any lightfast qualities to them (which means that they will retain their bright colours for an extended period of time in normal lighting conditions) For an art journal I would expect that they will work fine.

Now…go steal some Crayola washable markers from your kids and PLAY!





3 thoughts on “Fun with Gesso BONUS!!

  1. Great! I love my Crayola markers – and I picked up a set of 10 no name markers at AC Moore for $1. that work just like Tombows. It’s worth checking out all your markers.

  2. Hello,
    I know it’s been a long time since ur post and you probably already had your class, but another technique I have learned is using a plastic wrap. Rubbing the marker on the plastic wrap so that there is some ink. Then using a brush that is dipped in water to pick up that marker ink from the plastic. It works just like watercolours and blends really well and good thing is you can use more than one colour to blend. Try this and maybe u can use it with future students.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s