Plaid backgrounds are absolutely simple with acrylics and a brayer...
- Water-Soluble Block Printing Ink in several colors (2 minimum)
- Plastic container (to roll ink, likely to stain)
- 1.5" or 2" soft rubber brayer
- Heavy cardstock or watercolor paper
- Newspaper to protect workspace
- Note: For this project, I used 9 x 12" watercolor paper, 2" Speedball soft rubber brayers and Speedball Water-Soluble Block Printing Ink.
1. Squeeze a small amount (~ 1-2 teaspoons) of block printing ink in the desired color in a square or rectangular plastic container. Hint: If you are mixing colors, put a bit of each color in the container at the same time.
2. Roll the brayer back and forth in the container to spread the ink evenly on the brayer until it is tacky (dry, not goopy). If combining colors, roll the brayer in different directions to mix. No need to mix evenly.
3. Roll the ink in vertical lines separated by the width of the brayer. In other words, if you have a 2" brayer roll a vertical line, leave about 2" space, then another vertical line, repeating until you reach the end of the paper. You don't need to measure, and it doesn't have to be centered!
4. Roll horizontal lines separated by the width of the brayer (i.e. same spacing as your vertical lines). There will be less and less paint on the brayer, adding interest and differences in color and texture.
5. Select and mix your next color. Just play with color. I used blue and yellow as my first two colors because I knew that they would create green where they overlapped. If you choose black and blue, for example, the black-blue sections will look the same as the black sections.
6. Roll vertical lines alternating with your first color, til you reach the end of the paper.
7. Mix a tiny bit of a third color. Roll the brayer on another surface (i.e. start another plaid paper) until it is almost dry, leaving barely any ink, and roll it here and there on your plaids to adds a bit of quirky color.
This would be a good project to do with your kids, it is fast and easy and would look great with almost any color combination. Let the kids pick the colors (of course!) and just steer away from two very dark colors, although one dark color with another color will work fine. I usually bring out 5-6 colors and let my kids pick. Sometimes they mix colors to achieve one of their colors.