Painting with Re-Inkers from Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop

(This tutorial was previously published in the book Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop by Serena Barton, copyright 2013; republished here courtesy of

I love using re-inkers mixed with acrylic glaze medium as my paint in wabi-sabi work. I discovered re-inkers several years ago and was amazed at the rich colors they provided. I immediately began painting with them on small wood panels. I discovered after a while that the re-inkers tended to sink into the wood and that the colors didn’t stay vivid. After I recovered from my disappointment, I came up with the idea of mixing the re-inker color with acrylic glaze medium to make the paint film stronger. It worked! The combination of the medium and re-inker produced gorgeous paint layers that didn’t fade. From now on when I refer to re-inker glaze, that’s my shorthand for re-inkers mixed with acrylic glaze medium. You’ll find that the re-inker colors are so rich that you need to use less than you might think when you make your re-inker glaze. Experiment with earth colors, bright colors and light re-inker colors. A spot of vivid color can bring an earth-toned piece to life, while a contrasting light color can give a subtle glow when applied over a light area of your piece.

Field at Night

Field at Night
Re-inker glaze on wood panel

In the following project you’ll create an atmospheric piece reminiscent of an old oil painting. Grab your favorite re-inker colors, glaze medium and brushes—and go!

What you’ll need:

  • Acrylic glaze medium
  • pre-gessoed canvas or board
  • Re-inkers- Slate, Denim, Rust, Lettuce, Butterscotch, Plum
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper towels
  • Gesso
Step 1

1. Start with a pre-gessoed canvas or board. Paint the surface with a layer of Slate re-inker mixed with acrylic glaze medium. Blot with a paper towel.

Step 2

2. When the Slate layer is dry, add a layer of Denim re-inker mixed with acrylic glaze over the slate. Blot gently.

Step 3

3. Toward the center of the piece, brush on Rust re-inker and glaze medium to resemble a grove of trees.

Step 4

4. After the previous layers are dry, brush on a glaze of Lettuce re-inker.

Step 5

5. Incise into the bottom of this area with a narrow brush handle.

Step 6

6. Below the incised area, brush on a layer of Butterscotch re-inker glaze and wipe with a towel to remove excess and add a bit of texture.

Step 7

7. Incise vertical lines in a loose zigzag pattern over the bottom of the piece.

Step 8

8. Brush on and blot a bit of the Slate re-inker in various places over the tree area.

Step 9

9. Brush a narrow band of Plum re-inker glaze below the incised tree area. Blot a small amount of this color onto the area below.

Step 10

10. Mix a little Denim re-inker with a little gesso and paint over the tree area on the left side of the canvas.

Step 11

11. Add Slate re-inker mixture to the bottom corners of the piece. Gently blot a small amount of each re-inker color in random areas over the piece to create an aged look.

No More to Be Said

No More to Be Said
Re-inker glaze on wood panel

Wabi Sabi Wisdom

• Remember to use the glaze medium with the re-inker color.
• Let each layer dry before you add the next one.
• It’s fine to mix re-inker colors to create custom colors.
• Start with a light-colored layer; you can always make it darker.
• Alternating warm and cool colors yields a
rich effect.


Mixed media on wood panel
I painted vibrant re-inkers and glaze medium over this layered collage. Notice the ethereal transparency of the re-inker glaze.


From Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop by Serena Barton, 2013: courtesy of

To learn more about or purchase Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop by Serena Barton, click here.

For more on Serena Barton, read her artist profile. Or visit her website,




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