Thursday, August 9, 2018

Gelli Arts® Landscape Painting with Bob Pennycook

Hi all, welcome to the Gelli Arts® blog. Bob Pennycook here! Since the majority of my work is landscapes, I thought I’d show you how I create a contemporary landscape using my Gelli Arts® printing plate, sponges, torn paper, tape, and oil sticks to produce an image of sun, water, earth, and growth. Check out the end of this blog for a GIVEAWAY!

This is my registration board. It holds an 8x10 Gelli Arts® gel plate. The base is melamine; wood lath strips are screwed into the melamine and metal brackets are screwed into the lath. The photo on the right shows the gel plate snuggled up to the edge of the wood lath. The plate sits a little higher than the wood.

To start your print, cut a piece of printmaking paper a little wider and longer than the registration board. This size will allow for white borders around your print.

Mark an arrow in the upper left corner of the BACK of your print paper. As you can see in the photo below, the corner with the arrow fits into the corner of the angle bracket and the top and sides of the paper fit against the straight metal brackets. This ensures true registration for each layer of color.

Place painter's tape on the wood before you add color to the plate. This keeps the wood free of color. Remove the tape before you print and you won’t get errant dabs of color on the white borders of your print. Apply the tape every time you’re about to add a new color.

Randomly apply tape to the gel plate to create a wonky rectangle. Using a large bristle brush, apply a thin layer of paint spreading the paint whisper thin at the open end of the rectangle.

Remove tape and print the image making sure the arrow in the corner of the paper fits into the metal angle bracket. The image on the right shows the first pull of the print.

Re-tape the rectangle (and edges of board) and brush on another layer of paint. Use a shop towel to wipe off some of the second color to create some visual texture. Pull the print.

A grouting sponge from a hardware store is one of my most used painting tools. If you cut the sponge into little cubes, these little cubes are perfect paint applicators. The grouting sponge stays soft and pliable so I prefer it to any kitchen sponge that requires softening with water before use.

Tear off the corners of a small cube of sponge so you create soft, printable edges, and you don’t print the sharp edges of the sponge.

Tap the sponge into the paint you’re using. Just a little paint will do. Tap the loaded sponge on some paper. The paint layer on the sponge will then be even, thin, and covering the entire side of the sponge.

Tap the sponge onto the gel plate creating a circle for the foliage. A very gentle tap, very light pressure will create soft, wispy color, particularly around the edges of the foliage. If you need to, apply more paint to the foliage before you pull the print. The right photo is the printed color with a couple of layers of paint applied before the pull.

These are the foliage colors I used to create variety of color in the leaves.

Use the same dirty sponge and tap into a light color first.

Tap the light color onto half the foliage ball. Repeat, using the same dirty sponge, with a darker color tapped onto the other half of the foliage ball.

Pull the print.

Rip a piece of painters’ tape in half creating an irregular edge. Place the two pieces of tape on the gel plate, irregular edges facing, and about a half inch apart.

Use a clean sponge and tap paint into the opening. Remove tape, print and let dry. Repeat to create a second, thinner wavy line.

Draw and cut out a crescent-shaped tree trunk on a piece of sticky-backed foam.

Remove the paper backing to expose the adhesive on your tree trunk.

Place the tree trunk onto another piece of foam, creating a support (and a stamp).

Sponge a dark color onto the trunk, stamp onto the gel plate then pull the print.

Apply some direct painting to the print to create the earth. In this case I used an oil stick. Wear latex or vinyl gloves to keep your hands (and the paper) clean.

Apply a couple of different colors of oil stick. On the sample piece, I felt I needed some of the “sun” color elsewhere in the print so I mixed the two colors used in the wonky rectangle and used a round brush just to dab the paint on. You’ll see this in the picture of the completed piece. Also remember not to apply acrylic paint on top of the oil stick. The oil will eventually repel the acrylic.

The Golden paint left a ghost image behind on each layer. I used that image as a guide to apply the next layer of paint. If you're using color that doesn't leave a ghost, draw your image on paper using a non-transferable medium and place the drawing underneath the gel plate as a guide. Remember, draw the image in reverse!

-Gelli Arts® 8x10" gel printing plate
-Registration board
-Printmaking paper - I use BFK Rives. It's an acid-free, 100% cotton, smooth paper.
-Golden Open Acrylics in Titan Green Pale, Nickel Azo Yellow, Sap Green, and Teal
-Oil sticks. I use oil sticks from Kama Pigments in Montreal. I simply used colors that worked with the paints in the print.
-Painter's tape - 2 inch size works best
-Grouting sponge
-Sticky-backed foam
-Vinyl or latex gloves

© 2018 by Gelli Arts®, LLC Philadelphia, PA
All rights reserved.


  1. This is such an interesting technique!!! Thanks SO very much for posting. Will share the link with my fiber art group next Monday!!!

  2. Love this! The registration board looks like a wonderful tool.

  3. Nice piece of art with simple tools! Great!

  4. Simple technique - big impact!
    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  5. Always looking for new texture tools. Grouting sponge for grass/leaves is on my list. Like your registration method. No room for slippage.

  6. Nice to see some printmaking techniques that do not require a brayer!

  7. Really interesting post, useful tips and great work - thank you!

  8. I love how simple and clean this is! Very nice.

  9. Love your artwork. I like seeing the different still shots at the different stages.

  10. You make it look really easy, thank you for the post

  11. I really like the end result! Great technique to try. Thanks.

  12. Very nice outcome using the gelli plate :)

  13. loved this and the explanation. Will try it myself tomorrow

  14. A different way to make some great images. Thanks for taking the time to show this.

  15. Love this idea. So very different

  16. Thanks for your comments, everyone. A registration board, some grouting sponges and a few brushes can help create interesting and exciting prints from your GelliArts plate. Bob


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Gelli Arts®

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