paint spatters and wash in sketchbook

Creative Challenge | Make a Mark


The trouble with pages in new notebooks and sketchbooks is that they’re so pristine. It can be intimidating to make that first mark on the blank page. Sometimes so intimidating that the book lies unused, pages bright and clean.


To make a mark

Sketchbook page with text overlay "Get rid of that blank sketchbook page! mark making"


Let’s get rid of that unblemished page. If you have a concertina book (read our instructions for making your own small concertina notebook), spread it out so that you can work over all the pages. If you’re using a normal book, just work page by page, making sure that you allow enough time for each page to dry before moving on.

concertina sketchbook with wash and spatters
Use a large brush to paint a wash over some or all the pages using thinned paint or inks.

Don’t worry about colour combinations or making it look like something. The idea is just to add a faint colour to your pages.

Flick some paint or ink over the pages. Dip an old toothbrush into the paint pot and draw a blunt knife across the bristles towards you, which will spray colour onto the pages. Best to protect your worksurface as this can be a bit messy! Use a stencil to block out part of the page if you want to keep some bits unspattered.

Make a blob of runny paint or ink on the page and tip the book to make a colour run. I get the best results by folding up the book a little and balancing the blob on the top of the fold between pages. Blow it with a drinking straw to make different shapes.

You should now have a book that looks a little more interesting and is ready for you to sketch and write in.

If you have a little more time

marks, washes and spatters in a sketchbook
Write an introduction to your book

Make sketches, doodles or notes in your book

Make patterns or pictures from the marks you’ve made

Add more marks with foam or rubber stamps. Make your own rubber stamp by using a craft knife to cut away parts of an ordinary eraser.


Now your book should look more like an artist’s book.

Do let us know what you’re creating in this year’s Challenge. Leave a comment below (with a link if you’re sharing online) or tag @Slamseys in Instagram.

If you missed the introduction to the Challenge, read about the Slamseys 2019 Summer Creative Challenge here.

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