Okay, fine, let’s talk about that blank page anxiety. Again. Look, you have enough to be anxious about without worrying whether that white page in your journal or diary is glaring at you, daring you to write or work on it. People, this will not do. Instead, today we are going to look at a variety of mark making techniques that will jumpstart your creative engines by making a nice, grungy, comfortable, welcoming space to create on.

Coffee cups

I keep a special tea cup dedicated to this technique alone. You can make messy circles using gesso. Or Ink. I like to combine a bit of colour to gesso. This makes a viscous medium that looks like chalk paint and also has remarkable depth. Add circles sparingly or go crazy and make bold patterns.


Drizzle or pour a small amount of liquid pigment – I am using my handmade walnut ink but you can use watercolours or acrylic thinned with water. Improvise. Smoosh it about on the page, then gently blot. You can now use this image as a messy, happy background, or you can draw into it, letting the blot tell you what it is meant to be. Alternatively, you can use it to psychoanalyse your friends.


Normally we use stencils in a precise way for a sharp result. For messy mark making, I recommend something looser. I like to use a mister and this gives a really sloppy, pretty mark.

Coffee/tea stain

Most of you are familiar with dying papers whole with tea or coffee but you can also drizzle with it, then blot, and make a subtle, irregular splotch that you can then work into.


Another way to use the mister is to make drips that come down from the top of your page like melting wax. Either use it full strength or mist again with water to really get it moving.


And while we  have our misters out, you can always just spritz, or spritz and blot.

Ink wash scribbles

If you are ready for something more dramatic, you can scribble with ink or other watersoluble medium and then get it really wet. It almost looks like alien script.

Bubble wrap

This is actually kind of like stamping. Just ink up your bubble wrap and pounce it over the expanse of paper. Here I am combining it our coffee drizzled page from earlier.

Masking tape

Add the tape in long blocks across your page and then spritz, or paint or whatever you like. Remove the tape and hey, presto, some bold patterns to mess with.

Wet ink blots

Finally, one more inky one, although again, please experiment with whatever you have to hand. Wet your paper well then add drops of ink for ghostly, abstract blobs.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other ideas.