Creative Kickstarts: How to Apply Paint with a Cloth

*A guest post by Art Journal Kickstarter contributor Theresa T. Mirabile.

Art excites me—color, shape, texture. It wakes me at night and keeps me from doing the everyday things I should be doing; gratefully, I am at the point of my life where I never need to deny myself. My family and friends encourage me—what a joy!

Often, I prefer to use a damp cloth to apply paint. Color slowly builds while a good rub can remove excess color. This is how I created the backdrop for “Nina” (p. 107) in Art Journal Kickstarter. Texture can be built and blending colors is easily done with a damp cloth. The first time I remember seeing someone use a cloth to apply paint was as a young child growing up in Brooklyn, New York. The superintendent of our apartment building applied a second coat of paint over a base coat, using a cloth, creating a textured design. I was and still am amazed at the wonderful things that using a cloth can accomplish.


acrylic glazing liquid (to preserve the pencil drawing)
acrylic paint: Ultramarine Blue, liquid Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold
watercolor paper, 150-lb (canvas using heavy body paints will produce a great painting, too)
damp cotton cloth
drawing pencils, #2 and #6
paintbrushes: 1/2” flat, detail round
pallet knife
paper stump
waterproof fine-point pen
white gesso


1. Tint the gesso with a bit of gold color. Use a pallet knife to apply the gesso to the paper and create texture.



2. Using a damp cloth, rub in small amounts of liquid Quinacridone or Nickel Azo Gold. You may want to apply additional coats if a deeper gold is desired.



3. Mix Ultramarine Blue with gesso and rub into a sky and water area. Use a clean damp cloth to soften areas where paint is applied too thickly.


4. Using the #6 drawing pencil, draw the boat base and use the paper stump to blend.



5. Add setting sun by tipping a flat edged brush into gesso.  Place the brush straight up over the area you want the sun and spin brush while gently pushing down.  Allow to dry completely.



6. Add details to the boat with pen.



7. Using a #2 pencil, lightly place all rigging, then complete details in pen. Add folded sails with # 6 pencil and use stump to blur. Add additional color if you like to deepen some areas. To complete apply clear glazing liquid over pencil drawing being careful not to smear.

Here are some additional examples of painting with a cloth.

ragging-heavy-bodied-acrylics-on-canvas abstract-on-paper

Click to Purchase Art Journal Kickstarter!

For more art ideas, check out Art Journal Kickstarter! You never know what direction your art may take off in until you try. As Theresa Mirabile says, “Be courageous. Push yourself to try new methods and products. You may destroy your first attempts, but your successful works will be worth it.” You can find Mirabile’s work in her Etsy shop or you can contact her at:

Would you like to learn more about painting abstractly? Check out these two North Light books:

T0736_CreatingAbstractArt_CVR.indd  T1353_160px_72dpi

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