Level up your art by drawing into wet paint

by | Free Art Lessons

Hey, it’s Cait Sherwood! I am a mixed-media painter who loves making art into journals and sketchbooks. I live on a farm in Maryland, in the States, with my husband, two dogs, and many chickens (and turkeys, and ducks, and a goat.) I am a Get Messy lifetime member and I was on the Creative Team in 2015.

Artwise, I like to work in a chaotic flurry of drawing, painting and collage. At some point I was too impatient to let some paint dry before drawing into it with pencil. That’s when I discovered that I like the look of this technique. The result is a highly dynamic drawing/painting with deep textural marks.

Drawing into wet paint is a fun and organic process. Also it causes you to be more decisive while drawing since each mark is so defined.

I use the pencil with the understanding that some lead will transfer to the page as expected, but the pencil also functions as a scratching tool. So sometimes the lines that are revealed through drawing show the color of what is beneath the paint layer.

This is a simple technique that I have found myself returning to regularly. In this tutorial I will show you how I approach drawing into wet paint and give you some tips.


  • Pencil – I like a very dark pencil (wet paint would damage a pen or a marker)
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Rag or paper towel (to clean the pencil as needed)
  • Acrylic paint or gouache
  • Spatula, palette knife or old credit card
  • Paper or art journal to work on
  • A reference to draw from if you wish (could be an image, could be real life, anything)


So, I said this technique was simple, and I meant it:

Apply an area of paint onto your art journal or paper with a spatula, palette knife, or old credit card. You want the paint to be sort of thick–thinner than icing a cake, but thicker than a typical layer of paint.

Using a pencil, draw directly into the paint. Every few marks you might want to wipe the pencil clean with a rag before continuing.

When you are finished drawing, let the paint dry (or dry it with a hairdryer.)

Pick a simple pattern you like to draw and try this out! Let me know how it goes and what kind of awesome color combinations you discover.


Cait Sherwood is a mixed-media painter who works into art journals. She lives on a farm in Maryland.

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