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Create Magical Backgrounds for Your Art by Adding Salt to Ink

Adding salt to painting mediums can give your background for artwork a wonderful textured look. In this post, I’ll show you its effects on ink sprays.

effects of salt crystals on ink paint

Using household items in art

Like table salt, It’s amazing how many every-day-things most folks keep in their house can be used in art in fascinating ways.

I was looking at all the background techniques that I’ve shared on Artsy Karma so far, and over a third of them require some household item to make.

There are a few different ways you can use these unexpected items. First, look for things to use instead of paper with interesting textures, like sandpaper, aluminum foil, or paper towels.

You can also look for items around the house to apply the paint in interesting ways. You could use a scrub brush with acrylics or blotted paper towels on watercolors. You could also splatter paint using a toothbrush. However, my favorite is what happens when you spread drops of acrylic and then scrape it with a credit card. You have to check that out.

Some items get used in more interesting and scientific ways. You can use shaving cream to get a marbled look on paper. You can use rubber cement as a mask for watercolors. And you can use rubbing alcohol to reveal paint layers.

And using salt is just as fun and magical. What type of salt, you ask? Any kind! Each type of salt creates a different result. So use what you have for now and experiment with it. House of Watercolor has an extensive post on using salt on watercolor and what the different types of salt can do.

What happens when you add salt to paint?

What creates this cool effect when you add salt to wet paint is that the salt will suck up all the water in the surrounding paint. That process leaves a little blossom around the piece of salt. And when you brush the salt away, a darker spot of color will be left underneath, where it was collecting all the pigment.

So let's do this!

I decided to do this technique using a collection of ink sprays that I have. Some of these are name-brand glimmer mists, some are made for tie-dye, and some I made myself (a post for another day).

variety of spray inks

I used pieces of card stock cut in the sizes of artist trading cards - 2.5 x 3.5. You could also use watercolor paper.

I sprayed on one of the colors, making sure there was enough to be soaked up by the4 salt.

spray ink atc backgrounds

I sprinkled on the salt I had immediately after.

making salt and ink backgrounds

salt crystals on wet paint

I walked away to let it fully dry, and this is what I came back to:

the effects of salt on paint

It was neat to see how much spray ink the salt could suck up.

In order to use the background for more art, the salt must be removed. I’ve seen others say to use a heat gun or blow dryer to do the job, but I’m telling you that that won’t do much. Most likely, you’ll have to brush it or scrape it off with your hand.

rubbing salt of painted background

Here are all the backgrounds I made doing this technique:

ate backgrounds made with salt

They all turned out a little different due to the difference in paint/ink consistencies, I believe.

So, now I challenge you to grab whatever salt you’ve got and whatever paint you’re got and experiment with it. This would also be fun with the kiddos.

Let me know how it turns out!

If you loved this salt and ink background technique, please share ❤️

spray ink and salt crystals mixed media backgrounds

salt crystals on ink technique


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