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Monday, October 24, 2011

Journal Box - Playing with Watercolor Ground

I've been wanting to try Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground (DSWG) since it first came out.  My subject.... a cigar box :) 

It's all about repurposing, and now that the smell from the little devil's finally faded, I'm quite excited about the possibilities. Tip: if you have a cigar store in your town, check them out. They sell their boxes for very, very little... Our local store asked $1.00 for the cardboard boxes and $2.00 for the wood boxes!

I decided I liked the red cover on this box and chose to tape off the foil stamped illustration and used this area for application of the DSWG. 

Once applied, the DSWG has to cure for 24 to 72 hours before applying watercolor or acrylic.  It can also be thinned up to 10% with water.  You can see in my second image that the ground looks thin in some spots. My intuition was telling me to add a bit more to even out the first coat, but my adventurous side wanted to see if the uneven coating really mattered.  I had several cigar boxes that I applied the DSWG to.  My studio was filled with the essence of gesso..... it was a bit too strong from my nose.

 You can see in the upper and lower left corners where the ground was applied too thinly.  Could I make this work?

Well, yes and no. The lower left corner was a bit too thin and when you view the box in person you can tell.

Painting on the DSWG was similar to the feel of  painting on watercolor canvas. It was necessary to dry each application of paint with a hairdryer. Lifting paint is easy and I didn't see any wear on the surface.  Truth be told, my lifting was more like scrubbing.....

Almost done! I'll let this sit for a couple of days and no doubt tweak the image a bit more. The last step will be to spray it with Golden's MSA Archival Spray Varnish to seal the surface.
This will be home for my Garden Journal - a collection of single watercolor paper sheets... but more on that later :)


  1. this is an awesome idea that could be expanded in so many ways. I'm going to the smokes store in town tomorrow to see if they have any cigar boxes. great post

  2. Wonderful tutorial Pam. I recently used the ground on my little travel paint box to cover up the 'Sucrets' word. Worked great!

  3. This is delightful! And of course your lettering really added the final touch.

  4. I've never heard of Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground before but I'm glad you introduced me to it. Sounds like great stuff. I have a couple of boxes that I store some art supplies in and this would make them much more attractive! Love your hand lettering by the way. Thanks Pam!

  5. Thank you, Chris, Teri and Kate!

    Chris, you are lucky to have a 'smokes' store in your area! They offer a lot of great box shapes and with DSWG... the skies the limit :)

    Teri, your travel paint box provided me extra inspiration!

    Kate, it's amazing me what a little lettering will do :) thanks!!

  6. This is lovely, fun, and exciting, Pam. I got some of the watercolor ground a few months ago and haven't used it yet, but now you've inspired me. Another good place to find cigar boxes is thrift stores--I've found quite a few that way. Question: What did you use for your lettering? A white ink pen, or...?

  7. Thanks, Richard! We must have posted at the same time because your comment wasn't there when I responded the first time :) I'm quite impressed with the durability of the ground.

    Thanks, Maria! I used a Uni-ball Signo broad pen that Laure Ferlita featured one time. JetPens.com sells them. I've not found them in box stores like Staples, Walmart and Target. It works well for making bright full moons, too :)

  8. Hey this is great. The man at a the local garrafeira (wine shop) gives them to me for nothing but a smile and a wag of my tail. I love what you've done with yours.

  9. It looks really really good, the colors are just great and the details very good.


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