Using watercolours on a Gelli Plate!


This is something I have been thinking about for a while.  I did try it once before, with mixed watercolours, but it didn’t work well.

The reason, I think, is that the super-wet watercolours, either mixed from one of the hard watercolour blocks, or the tube watercolours mixed with too much water sort of bead up on the Gelli plate.

I did it differently.  I squeezed a blob of concentrated watercolour onto a slick report cover then spritzed on a tiny bit of water to get it to a creamy, more like acrylic paint, consistency.


That I was able to brayer onto the plate with no problem.



It may LOOK like the colour is patchy, but check out the prints!

I think the watercolour paint holds really well UNDER the stencil, so the prints first thru it, then after removing the stencil, both look crisp. You can see it works well on Deli paper too.

One of the things I really like is that if the paint dries on the report cover, if you aren’t keen on making 10 prints all in one colour (cause really a little bit goes a LONG way) all you need to do is spritz the barest hint of water on it to re-activate the paint.  I imagine you could store the painty sheets to pull out and reactivate later if you have the space for that.

I even did a clean-up print with acrylic paint OVER the “dirty” watercolour plate, which gave a fairly misty print.


And on this print I clearly laid the same stencil down in almost exactly the same place, unthinkingly, and got the almost shaded print you see. I love that one.




OK, so a couple of points.  What is the difference with watercolours?  Well, with the acrylic paint you get a toothy print – it has texture.  The watercolour prints are as smooth as a baby’s bottom, as smooth as the paper they are printed on.  Prints of something with a pattern or something like book pages, and the effect is sheer, more like acrylic paint with a glaze medium mixed in. And it stays wet longer.  On the down side, my belief is that it is likely to be more expensive.  Acrylic paint is CHEAP.  My watercolour set was cheap too, but lots of the tubes are a bit dried out, some of them are a little gummy and need to be “creamed” like butter and sugar to get them to the right consistency.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but one interesting thing is that after you do the watercolour pull you can let it dry then mist it so the paint runs a bit, for a very drippy looking print with the stencil areas still visible. Also note that as you are working on a separate sheet to apply the paint, rather than applying it directly to the plate, multi-colour prints take planning.  And you need space for multiple sheets.  I suspect it would be possible to add the paint directly onto the plate with better, or at least FRESH, rather than 3 years old, tubes!

And the plate cleans up perfectly with water.

Def. something to play with a bit more, I think.  I certainly like some of the pulls for ATC backs or maybe card backgrounds.  They will go in my stash to be pulled out and incorporated into other projects as they fit.


14 thoughts on “Using watercolours on a Gelli Plate!

  1. Hi there, love the idea of using watercolours, definetely going to give it a try. I also have a couple of years old paint lying somewhere.

  2. Hi – Visiting from Carolyn’s Gelli print party…great idea for using water colours, am still at a very experimental stage with my Gelli plate so always on the look out for new ideas…especially like the ‘almost shaded’ print..Esther xx

  3. Great prints using your w/c. I haven’t tried using them yet.

  4. I guess the fact that they will move again and bleed if re-wet can be a blessing or a course, depends on what we are doing, right? lol Thanks for sharing this, it is very interesting

  5. Very interesting experiments and great results. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Very cool, I love the prints you’ve made!

  7. Gorgeous! I’ll have to try with my Brushos….

  8. Pingback: Gelli Printing and Stencils | Carolyn DubeCarolyn Dube

  9. Great idea. I thought I had tried everything under the sun with watercolors and then I saw your idea. I have some cold press D’Arches paper and cannot wait to try it for a textured look.


  10. What fun experimentation! And you are using up 3 year old paint (I must confess I have plenty of that too) so that must have felt great! My favorite is when you put the stencil back down right over the other place and ended up with the shaded print! Thanks for sharing your technique with the party!

  11. Thanks for this most interesting post. Still have not had the opportunity to play with my recently purchased gelli plates. Enjoyed reading about your experiments with the water colors. You got some truly nifty prints with the w/colors.

  12. VERY VERY Pleased to hear have been having a go at using w/c onn the gelli plate……..its something I definitely am wanting to do more with. I like that image where you have the edges of the circles colored with the leftover paint on the stencil (well thats what I imagine happened) I am a member of the Flickr Gelatin monoprint group and shall report your findings there.


    i tried using speedball extender by rolling it onto the gelli plate first. I like the more translucent quality of w/c and I have a lot of w/c paint too.

    I also tried some golden open acrylic medium ………

    I would love to be able to have some of the bleeding behaviour of w/c going on within the image i pull from the plate. Thats what would be really nice. I enjoy reading your blog.


  13. Very interesting ! Thank you for sharing.

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