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DecoArt Mixed Media Blog

Intuitive Painting

by: Diane Salter
June 13, 2017

Intuitive Painting

I have trouble painting intuitively--starting out with paints and a blank surface without a plan in mind--just waiting to see what happens.  I usually like to paint papers first for collage that I will add to my work, which gets my creative juices going.  So this is how I approach a blank canvas--thinking of it as a piece of paper that I'm going to paint.  Once I get started, it always ends up being a very relaxing way of creating art.

Items needed :

  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Gesso - White
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Cobalt Teal Hue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Cobalt Turquoise Hue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Sap Green
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Phthalo Green-Yellow
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Phthalo Blue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titan Buff
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Quinacridone Magenta
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Primary Cyan
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Quinacridone Violet
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Yellow Oxide
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Diarylide Yellow
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Carbon Black
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Clear Matte Medium
  • Andy Skinner Stencils 12x3 - Burning Rubber
  • Andy Skinner Stencils 8x8 - Alphabet Spaghetti
  • Andy Skinner Stencils 6x6 - Whirlpool
  • DecoArt Media Varnishes - Gloss Varnish
  • 12 by 12 Birch Cradle Board
  • Scrap Book Pages
  • Palette Knife
  • Water Soluble Pencil
  • Assorted Brushes
  • Stencil Brush
  • Brush Tip Black Pen
  • Assorted Stamps
  • Permanent Ink Pad
  • Gel Pens

Instructions :

Starting with my cradle board, I applied a thick layer of the DecoArt gesso with a palette knife.  The gesso has a thick texture so you can apply it like frosting a cake.   I wouldn't suggest using a heat gun to dry it, because the top layer will feel dry, but depending on how thick you apply the gesso, the middle layer may still be wet, so let it dry naturally on its own--a couple of hours.  You'll end up with a wonderful texture to start.  If you want it smooth, just apply the gesso sparingly with a brush.

For the next layer I applied my chosen paint colors loosely with a paintbrush.  I blended in some of the paint in parts, but mainly tried to keep them separate--when you do this step, make sure the colors compliment each other.

Once the paint was almost dry, I sprayed water over the surface, waited a few seconds, and then blotted up the water drops with a paper towel.  This results in a mottled look and adds more depth to the background.

For my next step, I adhered some torn dictionary pages to random areas with the DecoArt matte medium.  When you tear the pages like this, they'll blend in better with painted surface.  The pages are thin so I was able to adhere them well even though there's texture created by the gesso. I also applied a coat of the matte medium over the tops of the paper--this creates a sealed surface that I can add more paint to.

Once everything was dry, I added a very light layer of Titan Buff to tone everything down a bit.

Next comes the fun part--playing with stencils, and other mark-making tools that you can find around in your home--corrugated cardboard, old cookie cutters, bottle caps, etc.  I brought in more paint colors to compliment the original first layer.  And I also decided to paint the edges a solid color of paint.  I used the Quinacridone Violet and Quin Magenta.

So this is when I decided what was going to be the theme of this piece.  I first used a water soluble pencil (black or white, depending on what shows up better) to sketch in my design.  These are great to use, because if you're not happy with your sketch, you can just 'erase' it with some water and start over.  Once I was happy with my design is when I went over everything with my black brush tip pen.  This helps you see the design when you add more paint to the background.

This next step is the start of bringing everything together.  I decided where to add more paint, and where not to.  The background helps with the design of the piece. For instance, in my houses I painted part of them, and left the rest with the original background painting, and I did the same with the birds.  This part is fun--no rules--just play, keeping in mind, once you paint over the background, it's pretty hard to bring it back again.

So even though this was an intuitive painting, I noted all of my steps to show my process.  These are suggestions or prompts for you.  Once you get started, you'll start to venture off on your own and find your own way of intuitive painting, and if you're not happy with it, just keep going until you are -- it's just paint and it can be covered up with more layers--just keep playing.

Be sure to visit My Art Journal for more projects and to learn more about Diane Salter.


Beautiful! I loved seeing your video.


June 13, 2017

Thank you for sharing...gonna give this a try.


June 13, 2017

Love Diane Salter's art. Follow Diane religiously. Thank you so much for this tutorial.

Susan N Schultheis

June 13, 2017



June 14, 2017

Love this thanks for sharing!

Tammy Oviedo

June 14, 2017

This is amazing. I'm new to art journals and just visiting here and there, but this is like nothing I've seen so far!


June 15, 2017

I must try this! Love the result. I do have a question, What is cradle board and where do I get it?

Debbie H

June 17, 2017

WOW!!! Great job!!! I'm like Debbie H. I don't know what cradle board is either nor where to purchase it. Thank you.

Maryann A.

June 21, 2017

Really gorgeous!!! Love this project, fun and very beautiful. The Decoart colors are also wonderful here!


June 21, 2017

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