YOU MAY RECALL FROM the beginning of the book that the eighth “ingredient” for finding your own style is Expansion: Continually growing your knowledge of new materials.

With that in mind, we’re excited to introduce you to an array of some of our favorite art materials we affectionately call the Art Salad Bar—an inspiring buffet to satisfy your creative cravings!

As always, this chapter is not about following step-by-step instructions to yield a specific result. On the contrary, it’s about opening up to new ways of thinking about your materials and what’s possible when you approach them with playfulness, courage, independence, and curiosity.

Our hope is that these ideas will serve as seeds of inspiration that will continue to bloom and grow in ways you can’t even imagine. Remember, there is no “right” way to work with these materials and techniques. In fact, the more you think of them as jumping-off points, the easier it will be to make them your own.


WRITING INQUIRY: Your New Materials

Before we dive into new materials, take some time to reflect on your past, current, and future relationships to different creative materials and processes through this Writing Inquiry:

I have always loved creating with _______________ .

Lately, I have been curious to explore creating with _______________ .

One art medium I have been afraid of is _______________ because I think _______________ .

An art medium I enjoyed working with as a child is _______________ .

I wonder what would emerge if I were to combine _______________ with _______________ and perhaps even a little bit of _______________ .

I once tried working with _______________ but never picked it up again because _______________ .

If I could work with ANY new material in my one hundred paintings, I would be most excited to work with _______________ .

I find _______________ (art material) so frustrating!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE _______________ (art medium) because when I work with it, _______________ happens.



It’s easy to pick up a paint brush and use it in the very same ways you’ve always used it. We tend to be creatures of habit like that. However, that very same familiar tool also has the potential to open up exciting new worlds of mark-making expression when you get curious and start pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

One way we like to experiment with our brushes is by using watered-down black paint on white cardstock or directly on our watercolor paper. This stark black on white contrast makes it easy to focus on the marks we’re creating without worrying about things like color choices.

To begin your explorations, gather a variety of brushes and start to play with all the different ways you can hold each brush. Try loosening and tightening your grip, holding it with just two fingers, using your nondominant hand, holding it at the very end or close to the bristles, and trying out a variety of pressures.

Next, experiment with all the different surfaces on your brush. For example, the flat side, tip, corner, and handle of each brush will all produce different shapes and effects. See how many unique marks you can make with just one single brush.


Another way to experiment with your brushes is by playing with the quality of your lines. Here are a few prompts to get you going:

  • Move between thick and thin lines by applying more and less pressure as you drag and twirl your brush across your paper.
  • Create “skipping” marks by rhythmically lifting up and pressing down.
  • Spin your brush as you hold it in one place.
  • Hold your brush in your nondominant hand as you make one long meandering line.
  • Play with these prompts: curvy, delicate, nervous, jagged, bold, circular, constricted, flowing, and long.

When you’re finished exploring your brushes, consider what other materials might be made into mark-making tools. Things like leaves, sticks, pinecones, makeup tools, cookie cutters, toothbrushes, combs, cotton swabs, utensils, chopsticks, old pens, and plastic tops are all great options.

Think outside the box and see what you can find. You just might stumble across your signature mark-making tool!



As we mentioned in the last section, we love experimenting with nontraditional materials that make unique and unexpected marks, and one of our favorite places to find these items is right in our kitchen or garden.

Some of our favorite unusual mark makers are vegetables, and we especially love working with potatoes because they’re inexpensive, easy to carve, and offer an infinite number of options when it comes to creating shapes for stamping. We also love that potatoes are temporary, and no two potato stamps will ever be quite the same.

  1. 1 To create your very own potato stamp, find a sharp knife and a proper surface to cut the potatoes on. We like to cut them in half to create two smooth flat surfaces to begin with.
  2. 2 Once the surfaces are exposed, wipe them down with a paper towel or rag to remove any surface liquid and then cut the potato into any shape you like.

Remember, you can always keep cutting and changing the pieces to create any number of different shapes and sizes, so enjoy experimenting with this naturally inspiring medium. Also take note of your “off-cuts” and the many sides of your potato. Over the years, we’ve created some of our favorite shapes completely by accident!

Feel free to use these same guidelines to experiment with other veggies (or fruits). Some of our favorites are the bottom of a celery bunch, a corn cob, the inside of a pepper, the rind of a melon, and a slice of eggplant.

The organic stamp-making possibilities are truly endless!



We learned this easy and satisfying way to add images to paintings from our friend, Orly Avineri, and we’re excited to share it with you. This technique is especially helpful if you want to add an image from a photograph or magazine into your painting but you’re not feeling confident enough to draw it by hand. We also love the unique effect of transferring images this way.

To begin, find an image you want to use. If the image is precious and you don’t want to draw directly onto it, you’ll want to make a photocopy. Place your carbon or graphite paper, also called transfer paper, with the carbon or graphite side facing down on your painting where you’d like the image to go. (Do a little test on a scrap to make sure you have the correct side down.) This paper comes in many different colors. To make your lines pop, we suggest working with dark carbon paper on lighter surfaces and vice versa.

Next, place your chosen image on the top of the carbon or graphite paper. Feel free to tape it all down to keep it in place or just hold it firmly. When the image is in place, trace around the image with a pen, pencil, or stylus. The sharper your tool, the crisper your transferred lines will appear on the painting.

You can add in as much detail as you’d like or keep it simple. Just remember that anytime you make a line or mark on your image, that line or mark will be transferred onto your painting with carbon or graphite. Feel free to do a test run on a different sheet of paper before you work directly on your paintings to get the hang of it and see the results.

You can layer in transferred images anytime into your in-progress paintings or start out with this technique as a first layer.



While it’s easy to buy premade rubber stamps from the art supply store, we believe creating your own homemade stamps is a much more authentic, satisfying, and exciting way to infuse more of your unique style into your creations.

To create your personalized stamp, you’ll need a soft rubber carving block and a linoleum carving set, both available at most art supply stores or online.

Each knife in your set will have a different shape, so we suggest doing a bit of trial and error to become familiar with what kind of marks and lines your knives will create. Of course, any time spent experimenting with new tools is time well spent as you expand your creative fluency and ability to express your truest desires.

When you feel comfortable with your carving tools, it’s time to start thinking about your stamp design. Remember, your design can be super simple or incredibly intricate—both are satisfying ways to create, and we hope you’ll make more than one stamp. Once you get the hang of the material, it’s very easy and also very addicting!

To make your carving process easier, you can draw your design onto your rubber carving block with a pen or pencil first, or you’re welcome to free-style carve if that feels more interesting to you. Depending on your design, you may want to incorporate a variety of knife tips to get the look you want. You can also cut up your rubber carving block into any shape before you begin.

Once you’ve carved your stamp, it’s time to start experimenting with how to put your stamp into action. Use your fingers or a brush to apply paint to your stamp and feel free to play with both fluid and heavier bodied paint to see what works best. You can also add more than one color to your stamp and experiment with applying different amounts of pressure as you go.

This, friends, is a grand rubber-stamping experiment. Take what works and leave the rest behind.



Stencils are another fun way to add texture and shape to your artwork.

Just like with rubber stamps, there are many prefabricated stencils available for purchase, but making your own is also a wonderful option. Again, we believe this is a great way to bring more of your unique flair into your creations.

There are many ways to make your own stencils, but our favorite low pressure, inexpensive, and easy way to make a stencil is to use a simple manila folder.

Start by drawing your design with pencil or pen onto your manila folder and then use a utility knife to cut away your shapes and designs. You’re also welcome to freestyle your cuts if you’re feeling brave! Next, pull the off-cuts of your paper stencils away and see what remains. Feel free to make adjustments as you wish.

Next, choose a surface you would like to add your stencil design to. This might be a first layer of a painting, an in-progress painting, or any surface you feel comfortable working on.

Start by positioning the stencil on your paintings. The design can be fully contained on the page or moving off the edge. You can also choose to repeat the stencil image or only apply paint to part of the design, creating another version of your stencil. The possibilities are endless, so again, this is a fabulous opportunity to get into your own groove and play! Pause and listen to what you feel curious about, try things out, and let your own style emerge through the process of experimentation.

We love to use spray paint with our stencils, but we understand spray paint can be toxic and messy and it isn’t for everyone. If you do experiment with spray paint, please take care of yourself and your space by spraying outside away from plants, animals, and other people. We also suggest using a simple respirator from the hardware store.

And if spray paint isn’t your thing, there are many pumpable spray inks available. Applying acrylic paint with a brush is also an option.

The most important thing is to experiment and find what works for you.



For anyone who’s had a passion for fiber arts or beads on your creative journey or anyone who is feeling drawn to these materials now, we wholeheartedly encourage you to explore them in your painting process.

Perhaps you’re familiar with quilting, sewing, beading, embroidery, lace-making, weaving, dying, or appliqué. If so, imagine how these skills and passions might be referenced and applied to your one hundred paintings. We’d love to see what you come up with!

The use of beads and fiber are as old as human beings themselves. Often, we adorn ourselves with these beautiful items or give them away as meaningful gifts. Lynx has a lifelong practice of working with tiny beads because her mom was the owner of a bead shop, and this is a perfect example of “stitching” past experiences with present pursuits. It’s that kind of integration of creative passions that creates the space for truly unique expressions of style to occur.

Have you ever quilted? Sewn clothes? Made jewelry? Even if you’ve just dabbled in any of these mediums, perhaps you have some supplies you could pick up and incorporate into your paintings?

Here are some ideas of how you might consider integrating these mediums into your work. Of course, these are just ideas. You are free to experiment with these mediums in any way you please!

  • Embroider with embroidery floss directly onto your painting.
  • Hand sew fabric scraps or cut shapes onto your painting.
  • Use a sewing machine to create a line design onto your painting.
  • Sew beads onto your painting using a needle and thread.
  • Glue yarn or other cord into a design on your painting.
  • Using a darning needle, use yarn as a mark-making design element in your paintings.


Now that you’ve experienced the Art Salad Bar, we hope your creative cup is overflowing and you’re inspired to play with your new materials. It’s time to invoke your curiosity and put on your brave boots as you set out to explore some new ways to create.

Begin with the mediums we’ve offered here and also feel free to add in your own favorite art-making materials whenever you feel inspired. Follow your curiosities as you ask yourself, “I wonder what would happen if I mixed _______ with _______ ?” Those are the whispers of your authentic creative voice coming through!

Remember that you can do no wrong.


Jumping-Off Points

If you’re feeling unsure about how to begin, here are a few prompts to get you going:

  • Build up layers of shapes using potatoes and other veggie stamps and alternate colors in each layer. We suggest allowing each layer to dry before adding the next layer.
  • Look for new mark-making materials to play with. Nothing is off limits! Experiment with contrast by stamping light colors on dark colors or cool colors on warm colors.
  • Stitch one of your favorite shapes onto your painting with thread or stitch a piece of fabric onto your painting.
  • Transfer an image onto one of your in-progress paintings using carbon or graphite paper.
  • Hand carve a rubber stamp with a symbol that has meaning to you and find different ways to use it in your paintings.


Expansion with New Material

This is a sampling of paintings completed by Fresh Paint E-Course participants.


  • Ginny Liskow
  • Maureen Kelly
  • Elsa Katana


  • Cordelia Peacock
  • Belinda Sigstad
  • Dalene Woodward
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