Golden Black Gesso and Sakura Gelly Roll Pens

This was so much fun! (Image can be clicked for a larger, clearer view.) I used Golden Black Gesso to coat a few page spreads in my Stillman & Birn 5.5x8..5" Epsilon hardbound sketchbook, drying each with a hair dryer before going on to the next. One coat of the Golden Black Gesso perfectly coated the paper. I did try a couple of different dilutions of it also, but it was best right out of the jar the way it came. It applied a thin, totally opaque covering of the paper with a single coat. I used an inexpensive foam brush.

Then I diluted some Golden Fluid Acrylic Interference paints in spray bottles, using a little airbrush medium, flow release and water, and spritzed each page spread with a couple of different colors, drying them again with the hairdryer. I did this in preparation for a sketching trip to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. They have a few very dark rooms with extremely interesting things and flourescent lighting, like jellyfish! This page in the book almost exactly mimics the dark, flourescent tank they were in. I grabbed a handful of Sakura Gelly Roll pens, purchased at a Jerrys store on my way to the Aquarium, and went to town with them.

The Gelly Roll pens worked fabulously on the gesso and the paper. They are very opaque, bright and smooth. I am going to get more!

Here's what the Sakura Gelly Roll pens that I got look like on black and on white. On the white paper, I brushed over the crosshatched sections with a waterbrush to see which ones will wash and which are waterproof.

That first sketch was fun, but it didn't give me exactly what I wanted. I turned to another black/interference page spread, and this time used gouache with some Gelly Roll pens over the top. I was much happier with this one!

This is something that I definitely want to spend more time exploring in the weeks to come!


  1. Oooh!!! I like this! You nailed that translucent look of the jellyfish in this second one where you blended the gel pen. This reminds me of going to the Monterrey Aquarium and seeing the jellyfish...I was mesmerized.

  2. Hi Joan! Thank you! That wasn't the blending of the gel pen; it was gouache!