Scrape art or scrape painting is a form of abstract painting where you use a tool to scrape paint across a surface, thereby creating mostly random patterns of colors. It requires just a few supplies, is easy to do, is a lot of fun, and definitely something you should try out yourself – especially if you like to experiment with different techniques.
Making Spectacular Scrape Art is Easy
If you'd like to try your hand at making scrape art, then this article is for you. Here you'll learn the scrape art fundamentals as well as some advanced techniques.
What You Need to Make Scrape Art
First things first, you'll need the right scrape art supplies. We suggest you get the following:
- Acrylic Paints. Water-based, safe, and easy-to-use artist paints are the best.
- Silicone placemat or newspaper. To act as a protective layer for your table in case you get paint beyond your paper or cardboard.
- Heavy weight paper or cardboard. This is going to be your canvas.
- Tape. To stick your canvas to the plastic bag or newspaper and to stick the latter onto your table. Less movement means better control of your painting technique.
- Scraper. This can be anything you can use to scrape the paint. You can use a large color shaper, a spatula, a credit card, a pallet knife, or a large artist's squeegee. An assortment of different-sized scrapers lets you scrape into different-sized spaces.
- (Optional) Hairdryer. If you want the previous layer to dry quicker, a hairdryer should do the job.
Scrap Art: Easy as 1-2-3
Once you've got your materials ready, it's time to create some cool scrape art.
- First, tape your silicone placemat or newspaper to the table then tape your canvas to it. This gives you a steady surface to work on while also protecting your table from errant paint streaks.
- Place globs of paint on one side of your canvas. For starters, place them on the top side as scraping from top to bottom is easier to learn than scraping left to right or vice-versa. Try using different colored paints to see how well they work with each other.
- With your scraper, scrape down from the top of the canvas. You can scrape one or multiple colors at a time. You can achieve different patterns by varying the speed, pressure, and direction as you scrape.
- Voilà! You've just made basic scrape art!
Scrape Art: Fine Tuning Your Techniques
Now that you've got the basics of scrape painting, it's time to try some different techniques.
The Rainbow Band
Line up your paints closely together then scrape while squeezing down your scraper. This should form bands of colors, with blended colors where two bands meet.
The Spotted Rainbow
You can add to the previous technique by adding a second set of paint globs. Line up the paint globs the same way but this time add a second set of paint globs either directly below the first ones or below the empty spaces between each one. Scrape your paint as usual and see how the second row of paint globs mixes with the first to create even more dynamic patterns and combinations.
Remember that the harder you squeeze down on your scraper, the more the colors are going to blend. Also, nothing's stopping you from adding even more rows of paint globs below the first one.
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The Color Wheel
As artists, we're quite familiar with the color wheel that shows us which colors complement each other and which are opposites. This scrape art technique lets you produce a wheel of blended colors or one with a series of wavy colors radiating from the center.
To make a blended color wheel, place your paint globs on the canvas so that they create a circle. Choose a starting point on the wheel. Then, simply scrape from your starting point until you reach the other end, all the while making sure to keep as close to the circle shape as possible.
To make wavy "rays", simply move your scraper left and right as you scrape down. The slower you scrape, the bigger the waves will be.
The Freeform Pattern
Lining up paint globs in a straight line is great for producing straight bands, but there's no rule saying it's the only way to make scrape paintings. You can make a freeform pattern by placing paint globs where you want to on the canvas. Let your imagination go wild and set your creativity on autopilot while choosing and placing your colors.
Then, once you feel like there's enough paint, scrape your paint in any direction you want to go. Use any of the techniques you've learned here and feel free to try out some of your own.
Scrape Art: Some Notes
As simple as scrape art can be, there are some tips you should know to help you produce the best results. These tips come from experience and in no way form a comprehensive list. You'll learn some of your own tips and tricks the more you practice scrape painting.
- Clean color lines: Paint tends to stick to your scraper each time you scrape. If you don't want the next line to mix with colors from the previous line, make sure you clean your scraper after every scrape.
- Different types of paint: You can make scrape art with different types of paint. You can use watercolor, poster paint, oil paint, or acrylic paint. That said, we found the best results using acrylic paint as they tend to have a balanced flow and viscosity, blend well together, have strong pigments, and dry more quickly.
- Patterned scrapers: Your scraper doesn't need to have a straightedge to do its job. A patterned or jagged-edged scraper can produce unique designs. We found that using corrugated cardboard as a scraper can leave subtle stripe marks on the canvas.
- Scrapers big and small: You're not limited to just one scraper so try using different-sized scrapers to produce different designs and images. The legendary Bob Ross was known for using his scraper to produce realistic-looking mountain slopes and vegetation.
- Multiple layers: You can make a scrape painting over an earlier scrape painting to produce the illusion of a 3D effect. You can add a secondary layer quickly by using a hairdryer to speed up the first layer's drying time.
Scrape art or scrape painting is fun and easy to do. Because this is a form of abstract art, you're really only limited by your imagination. Try out this vibrant art form yourself and don't be afraid to experiment and play around, you never know what you can come up with.