Gelli Arts® Printing with Watercolor

Hi there!
It’s Marsha here today with a fun little watercolor technique!

You may be thinking that watercolor
isn’t the most suitable paint for Gelli® printing. The viscosity is thin
and that causes the paint to bead up on the slick surface of the Gelli® plate. However, with a little experimentation, I was able to use watercolors to create amazing prints!

If you like surprises, apply watercolors directly onto the plate and just
let the magic happen. The paper you use will affect the outcome. I experimented
with different kinds of paper and I found I preferred drawing paper and smooth
watercolor paper.

Keep the
brush fairly dry and gently rub the paper without applying pressure when
pulling the print.

Don’t use
a brayer. Pressure will push the watercolors around on the plate and it’s possible
to end up with more watercolor next to the Gelli® plate than on the print.

Add more
water for a real watercolor look. Just load the brush with more water when applying
the paint to the plate or spray water over the paint on the plate with a spray

For a
little more control over the paint, you need a carrier or something that will
make the surface of the Gelli® plate less slick.

In her last blog post, Birgit used gel medium as a carrier for her spray ink technique.This will
work for traditional watercolors too. But once use gel medium with watercolors, you cannot reactivate the watercolor paint on your print.  It will act more like acrylic paint. 

If you
want the watercolor to keep its characteristics, try using a tiny drop
of dish soap instead. The soap will create a thin film on the plate that will
stop the watercolor from beading up as much.

You don’t
need to add a new drop of dish soap for each new print. I used a baby wipe to
spread the dish soap over my Gelli® plate the first time. That baby wipe
absorbed a lot of the excess dish soap, so from then on I just cleaned the
plate with that same baby wipe to distribute dish soap onto the plate in
between prints.

Dab the
baby wipe with dish soap onto the plate to create foam. This will cause tiny
bubbles that will show up in your prints!

Now add
the watercolors with a brush. Try dragging and dabbing the brush for different
print effects and use mark making tools and round pointed brushes to create

Watercolors stay wet longer than acrylic paints on a gel printing plate, so there is plenty of
time to work on the designs before pulling a print.

Let the printed paper dry properly before pulling another print on top.

Be mindful
of the colors you choose! Go for colors that mix well, because watercolors are
transparent and each new wet layer can also re-activate the watercolor that has
already dried on the print.

The most
important thing is to have fun and experiment!

Happy printing
with watercolors!!


Arts® 5″ x 7″ Gelli® Printing Plate

Drawing or
watercolor paper

(Winsor & Newton)

watercolor brush

pointed watercolor brush

making tool

Dish soap

Baby wipe

8 thoughts on “Gelli Arts® Printing with Watercolor”

  1. sewzallsquirrels

    So cool! I love watercolors and these techniques are very helpful to make different looking prints.
    Birgit's ideas with the gel medium were great too.

  2. This looks exactly like something I want to try now! It is exciting to see a new way to use both plate and paint.

  3. I’ve read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a great informative website.

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