Pale and painterly papers

A collection of pale papers by Lyn and Lesta

A collection of pale papers by Lyn and Lesta

Lesta Frank and I are teaching a workshop this month called Whiter Shades of Pale. Recently we got together at my studio to play with surface design of all kinds and create papers that have subtle painterly textures and intriguing variations of the palest tints.

The workshop has been sold out for a while, but I thought you might like to see some of the results from our pre-workshop experiments.

The first idea, below, is so simple – you just do a reverse stamp onto tan kraft paper (like a shopping bag) using a white stamp pad or white acrylic paint soaked into a damp piece of felt. Another variation we did was to roll white acrylic paint onto a textured placemat and print the design onto the tan paper.


Below, tissue paper has been painted with clear acrylic matte medium, which causes the paper to wrinkle a bit, and then it was sprayed with walnut ink. It’s almost like tinted glass!

This is one of my favorites. Lesta stenciled white acrylic paint onto deli paper using a small paint roller, and after it was dry, soaked it briefly in strong coffee to “age” it.



This is an easy “cheater-ly” way (below) to make multiples of subtle designs for ready-made custom collage paper. We just lay various pale papers on a scanner, scanned them in to the computer, and then printed out 8.5″x11″ composite-designed papers. Lesta tinted the face on the example below with Portfolio oil pastels.


Cheesecloth can be used in so many ways to add interest to collages with pale papers. You can Gesso it and let is dry, then cut it into fragments. You can use Gold Gesso as well. You can also add it as a layer over textures, then paint over it with light tints of acrylic paint.


Finally, don’t forget that you can lighten images with your printer using MS Word – here’s a Renaissance face with its contrast decreased, printed on a plain piece of inkjet paper and mounted to matboard. I punched holes and will attach this to a collage as one of the final layers – hmm, and maybe cover it partially with tissue?


If you want to play around with pale papers, here are some materials you might want to try.

I hope you have a chance to use some of these ideas – you can make just a few pale papers and collage little 3×5″ creations for cards. Or whatever – pale is pretty!



7 thoughts on “Pale and painterly papers

  1. Thanks for the early teaser! While in Colorado getting ready to set up for my art show, you are making it VERY hard to concentrate, here! See you before we know it! March on “Paley” 🙂 Laura

    • Aww. Sweet. Me too! But I know that you are cheering me on. Ill send pics of course. Its such a dreamy venue Lyn. You can’t imagine. I am in my happy place when I am here…:) Laura
      I just tapped the crazy zig zag avatar on your site and it led me right through the steps of adding a pic. So glad for all of the little helps that are out there…including you! xo L

  2. Thanks for sharing these terrific ideas. My art has been stuck in a “dark” place for months, and color is just starting to creep back in. Play would be a wonderful transition, and I can’t wait to experiment. I am still going to make it to Texas for a workshop one of these days…..

  3. Wow! Great ideas for altered papers!! I especially love applying mat medium to the tissue and spraying with walnut ink. Will have to find a bit of time to play. And what a great use of leftover cold coffee!

    • Had a few minutes to play and a new set of stamps to try out. Love adding the walnut ink to painted papers. I’ve posted my playtime over on my blog – Thanks for the inspiration!

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