Are We There Yet?

Layered Gelli Arts® Print

Reprinting over a Gelli® print is a great way to build an exciting image. It often takes several layers of printing before achieving a result I like.

But not always.

There are also those Gelli® prints, created with acrylic paints in a single pull, that say — STOP NOW.  Maybe the image is a beautiful leaf print, or a swirly design created with string, or a crisp pattern from a stencil or mask.

And while I like these images, they still need “something” more — but not another printed layer.

There are so many ways to deal with prints that “aren’t there yet”.

This time I’m going to experiment with adding more color!

Acrylic paint will act as a resist to many mediums. So, the idea is to apply color to a dry print, then wipe it off with a damp paper towel (baby wipes would work too) to reveal the original paint. The added color remains in the bare paper areas and makes the print “pop”!

Here’s what I’m going to add …

Spray Dyes!  

fast and easy way to overdye a print is to spritz it with Adirondack Colorwash Sprays. After spraying on the dye, wipe the print with a damp
paper towel. The dye absorbs into every tiny little unpainted area —
with the most gorgeous results!


Using a soft brush, apply a watercolor wash to unprinted areas and watch the color seep into the blank paper. Blot off the excess watercolor. Luminarte’s Twinkling H2O’s are particularly beautiful! Nice effect!

Acrylic Glazes!

I’m a big fan of Golden Acrylic Glaze — slow-drying transparent colors. Excellent characteristics for this purpose. Apply some color glaze onto a paper towel or sponge and rub onto the print. It leaves behind a tint of unifying color. Wipe off as much or as little of the transparent glaze from the print as you like.

Stamp Pads! 

Swipe dye-based ink pads onto the print and smoosh the ink into the paper. Using a damp paper towel, sponge, or baby wipe, gently wipe away excess ink off the paint. Unpainted areas on the paper will absorb the ink. I love using Ranger’s Distress Ink colors for this purpose. Ranger has a line of juicy Distress Stains in dabber bottles that should work beautifully on Gelli® prints.

Acrylic Ink! 

These usually come with an eyedropper, so use it to drop or draw ink onto your print. Some colors can be pretty staining or opaque, so — once applied, rub them off the print with a damp paper towel. I used Liquitex Acrylic Ink and loved the result!

Watersoluble Crayons and Pencils! 

Scribble on your prints, apply a wash of water with a brush, then blot or wipe with a damp paper towel — and you’ll get a very cool result! I love using Caran d’Ache NeoColor II crayons and Inktense pencils and blocks! Try adding a black Gelato (byFaber-Castell) to a pale print to create a nice contrast!

Walnut Ink! 

A mist or wash of walnut ink makes just about anything look great! No exception here!

Rubber stamps! 

Most dye-based rubber stamp inks will rub right off the acrylic paint while leaving their image on the blank paper surface. Intricate patterns can be added to the negative spaces this way! Some permanent inks, like StazOn, will leave an imprint on the paint. Different inks will give you different results. Explore the possibilities!

I find all the above methods for adding color work especially well on prints made with metallic acrylic paint. Gold, silver, bronze, pearl, and so on. Try it … you’ll see what I mean!

Sometimes all you need is the tiniest touch of additional color to make a print sing! Use a small round paintbrush and selectively add vibrant touches of color!

Bonus Time!

Here’s an added bonus! Those paper towels you’ve used to wipe off the colorants (dyes, inks, glazes, etc.) become quite beautiful as you mop up the excess colors! Save them and use them for collage! 

Hopefully, these techniques for adding more color to your prints will result in additional excitement and direction for those prints that aren’t quite “there yet” — and help them artfully arrive!

I’m sure you’ll think of more ways to apply another layer of color to your prints … and we’d love to hear about your ideas and experiments! So please feel free to comment here, or post to our facebook page!

Meanwhile, please enjoy the following slideshow featuring “color-enhanced” prints! 

I think we’re getting there!

Thanks to Kevin MacLeod for allowing the use of his composition “Shades of Spring”!

20 thoughts on “Are We There Yet?”

  1. I am so addicted to this! I can't stop making prints. When are you going to produce a larger plate?
    Sydney Wellman

  2. Your plates offer many possibilities, especially for the classroom. Do you have any elementary art teachers using them?

  3. These are so much fun —- and the creativity is unlimited. These tips and instructions further unleash the possibilities.

  4. Anita Judson Harkavy

    So stunning, all of them! Can't wait to get my hands on Gelli. Hard to find locally LA/Ventura, so will have to order online and wait for delivery – ugh! I just wanna start playing. Any idea what the life span is? It gets really hot here in summer, would refrigerating help? Would it ruin it? Such a cool thing, thanks!

    1. Hi Sandra! The big leaves are actually a stencil! I got it at Michaels's some time ago 🙂 Good luck and happy printing!

  5. Fabulous and so helpful! I have just received my Gelli plate and am almost too nervous to start! Am I right in thinking I can put inks and shimmer mists on the gelli plate and it won't harm the plate but it will discolour it? Denyse x

  6. You need to tell us how you did some of these designs. They are so awesome.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. You need to tell us how you did some of these designs. They are so awesome.
    Thanks for sharing.

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