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.

W8061_wabisabi-cov.indd 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,     MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTSImprove your mixed media art with books, DVDs, downloads & from the North Light ShopSign up for your FREE Create Mixed Media email newsletter for great tips, projects & moreGet unlimited access to mixed media art instruction ebooksDownload free mixed media desktop wallpapers

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