Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summer Sunsets on Canvas

Summer Sunsets on Canvas

With Gelli Arts © Printing Plates 
Deco Arts Americana Premium Paints

I am excited to be asked to collaborate with Deco Arts and Gelli Arts to create this project. I chose to create summer sunsets on canvas crossbody purses and a canvas board for framing.
Supplies I used are the 5” x 7” and 8” x 10” Gelli Arts plate and the Deco Arts Americana Premium Paints.  The Americana series of paints are very creamy and stay open (slow drying) so I can free hand paint them on the gel plates and not have to hurry to pull the print.   I also used Deco Arts Fabric Medium to help bond the paint to the fabric.  I mixed a few drops into each spot of color on my pallet.  I used gesso mixed with some of the fabric medium to pre coat some of the purses. On the ones that were not pre coated I felt the paint soaked into the fabric too much and was a bit dull. I liked them all either way, just a bit of a different look.

Supplies list:

5" x 7" Gelli plate
8" x 10" Gelli plate
Jane Davenport Mermaid scale gel plate
Deco Arts Americana Premium Paints
Deco Arts Fabric Painting medium
Deco Arts Americana Premium Gesso
Deco Arts Dazzling Metalics
Small canvas cross body purses
Canvas board

8" x 10 Canvas board with mat
Canvas crossbody purse - front and back
Close up of sunset on purse

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Stamping with Dare 2b Artzy© stamps and Gelli Arts© printing plate

Stamping with Dare 2b Artzy stamps and Gelli Arts 8” round gel plate

I have been asked to make a video for a collaboration between Dare 2b Artzy© stamps and Gelli Arts© printing plates.  I choose the Totally Tracy line of stamps and the 8” Gelli Arts plate.  I like working with parchment papers for my prints as in this case it gave the print a Batik look.  I used the Deco Arts Americana Premium Acrylic paints and mediums.  Enjoy the video!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Collage with Gelli Arts® by Catherine Tonning-Popowich

Collage with Gelli Arts® by Catherine Tonning-Popowich

If you are like me and you have a few extra prints that you made with your Gelli Arts® printing plate then this blog post is for you! I have accumulated hundreds of prints from playing with my gel plates and they are starting to take over my studio! I decided to try my hand at making collages from some of them.

I discovered a technique from artist Kathleen Mooney with whom I took some workshops with this past summer. This technique involves coating both sides of the prints with matte medium to virtually create skins. I used Liquitex but any brand will do.

You will need to use a clear trash bag to paint on (clear trash bags for glass recycling). You can also use heavy 4 mil plastic from Home Depot that is found in the paint department. It comes on a roll. You are basically making an acrylic skin. When the paper is thoroughly dry you just peal it off the plastic. Look at the edge of the second image below and you can see the skin edge.

Using a sponge brush, paint the matte medium on the plastic bag and then put your print on top of it. Brush the print into the medium while pouring more on top of the print and brushing it to cover the entire paper. You can fit a couple prints on the plastic bag and then move it to a safe place to dry for a few hours.

I spent a day just coating the prints I wanted to use for collages. Then the prints are dry and ready to go when inspiration strikes. I most often use my prints that are made on deli or parchment paper. This technique lends a bit of translucency to the prints and makes great collage material.

Next, I coat my collage surface with the gel matte medium and leave it to dry. With this technique you can collage on mat board, wood panels, canvas board, or stretched canvas. I choose to paint my surface with black gesso before coating it. I like the dark background behind the collage. 

Now that your surfaces and papers are dry you can start to create the collage. I chose to use the beautiful blue papers I made. What better way to use them but in a sunset over a water scene. I made a variety of them using various surfaces. My favorite is cradled wood art panels.
I trace the shape of my board on a piece of parchment paper and move the board aside. I will then arrange the pieces to be collaged on the parchment within this area. Each piece should be overlapped a bit so they will adhere to each other when heat is applied. When I have all the pieces in a pattern that I like, I iron them together between 2 sheets of parchment. They do not adhere to the parchment paper. This leaves me with a collage skin to place on the prepared surface.

Set the iron on medium or polyester and press over the top of the parchment paper. It doesn’t take long and then lift off the top parchment layer and peel up the fused piece. Now you can lay this on top of your surface of choice and place a sheet of parchment on top and iron it onto the surface. Check to make sure it has adhered. If not, iron it a few more seconds. When set, trim the edges with scissors or X-ACTO knife being careful not to pull it off the board or panel.

Look at your design and decide if you want to add more pieces. I wanted the sunset to stand out more so I added some pieces to make the reflections in the water and to shape up the sun more. What’s nice about this process is you can add more pieces on top of the fused piece as long as they all have been coated with the matte medium. When you are satisfied place the sheet of parchment on top again and give it a quick press with the iron.

When you are completely satisfied with your piece you will now apply more matte medium over the top to seal the entire piece and leave to dry for a few hours. Once mine was dry, I did some metallic pen and ink work on top. You can use gel pens if you like but I prefer my dip pens and gold ink. Just a few lines -- don’t over do it as it can take away from the collage technique.

I would like to share a couple storage ideas for your gel prints. It is easier to find what you are looking for if they are out in the open instead of filed away so I save those plastic pant hangers that most of us throw away. I sort my large papers by color and clip them onto the hanger and hang them over the door or from my wire shelf. For the smaller pieces I again sort them by color and put them into a blank journal or spiral notebook. You can put an elastic band around the book to keep them from falling out.

Thanks for stopping by!
Share your collages with us by tagging us on social media!

Finished gel prints on parchment, deli, or tracing paper
Clear recycling trash bags
Matte medium
Gel matte medium
Sponge brush
Canvas panel or wood panel

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Birch Trees using embossing folder on Gelli Arts® Printing Plate

Birch Tree Monoprints

I've always loved Birch trees and I am obsessed with drawing and painting them! 
I wanted a project that was quick and not too complicated involving these trees. I think I have every stamp, die and embossing plate of various trees so I decided to try printing with an embossing plate.  Just so happens I had a plate that was 6” x 6” to match the size of one of my gel plates. I usually lay out 2 or more Gelli Arts® printing plates when I work on a project so I can get a couple prints at the same time. Don't mind the difference in color, one plate has been used a lot more and seems to have taken on a color.  This does not affect the prints.

1) Using Sequin Black Metallic paint by Plaid I loaded my brayer and rolled the paint onto the embossing plate.  I used the side that had the trees raised out. The brayer just catches the trees when you roll over them.  I then turn the embossing plate over and press it into the gel plate. I used a clean brayer and rolled on the back of the embossing plate to push the paint onto the gel plate. Lift it off and the trees are on the gel plate. Let this dry about 10 minutes.

2) When this is dry pick a color for the background layer. I used Plaid Color Shift Orange and Yellow for the orange print. These paints are very translucent  and sheer so choose your paper color accordingly. I used brown deli paper (I order from Amazon) for the orange one and blue cardstock for the others. As soon as you apply the colors put your paper down and pull the print.  Depending on how dry the black on the trees are you might have to leave the paper on for a minute or two and burnish the backside with your hand or an old credit card.  Pull up a corner to make sure everything is coming up on the paper before pulling the print completely.

Catherine L.Tonning

Fall Birch Print using Embossing Plate

Fall Birch Monoprint in Aqua

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Fallen Leaves Layered Gel Print


By Catherine Tonning-Popowich

 8” x 10” Gelli Arts plate, Plaid Metallic and Gelli Arts Paints

Technique: Layering with Plaid FolkArt Metallic paints and Gelli Arts Paints on cardstock

I am so excited to create my first blog as a member of the Gelli Arts® Artist team! Having been asked to join the team is an honor, I love all of their products!

"My work is informed and influenced by nature. Whether working in the colors of autumn, in the flowers of spring, or in the radiance of a sunset or sunrise, I enjoy creating visually stimulating art."

My monoprints, mixed media, acrylic abstractions and realistic paintings all focus on nature whether it be the colors, textures or spirit and my obsession with it.

My prints are one-of-a-kind using mono printing with Gelli Arts® plates. I start with an idea or feeling which, I express in textures and colors using natural and manmade found objects. I see an item's potential by how it might appear after color and pressure have been applied to the plate, that is what makes the mono print process so exciting to me. Each print is unique and the result of my experience with color, texture and form.

Having said all that, I will tell you about this Falling Leaves print. I took a photo of some leaves floating at the bottom of a waterfall in Upper Michigan last fall. I loved how they looked like jewels in the water. I knew that this print needed to be done in layers.

Step 1 – Place photo under the 8 x 10 plate. I started with the leaves first painting them in with Plaid FolkArt Metallic paint. I didn’t paint all the leaves exactly as they were in the photo but most of them. I actually added some around the edges. Try to get a variety of colors, some orange, some greenish yellow, copper etc. I used a rubber tipped tool to wipe out the veins in the leaves while the paint was still wet. Let this layer dry completely.

Step 2 – Now that the first layer is dry paint another layer on the leaves using Gelli Arts opaque paints mixed with the Folkart Metallics. This allows the leaves to be a little opaquer but still shimmer. I paint the leaves in a direction from the outside edge in toward the center vein so that the leaves have a texture of veins. Let dry.

Step 3 – When you are satisfied with the leaves (you can pick up the plate and peek at the other side to see what they look like on the front) start to sponge on the blue colors for the water. I used Folk Art Multi surface Aqua, Metallic Champagne, Metallic Topaz, Metallic Blue Sapphire and Gelli Arts Cosmic Blue for the darkest shade. I used a sea sponge but any textured sponge would work. Sponge over the entire plate varying the colors from light to dark. Again let this layer dry.

Step 4 – Now using the Metallic Blue Sapphire blended with the Cosmic blue load up your brayer with paint and roll over the entire plate. Clean off the brayer on paper and run it over the plate again. You need a thin layer of paint over the plate or all you will pick up is the blue layer. I make sure I have a thin wet layer over the plate and the edges. This step reacts with the first layers and makes them moist again so you can lift them onto the paper.

Step 5 – Using a dark blue color cardstock place the paper over the plate and rub with the palm of your hand. I use an old credit card or hotel room key card and holding it at an angle I burnish the back of the paper. I use some pressure with the card to get the paint to adhere to the paper. Check the print by lifting a corner to see if the paint is sticking. If it isn’t all lifting put the corner down and continue to burnish till all the paint adheres to the paper.

If you are happy with your print let it dry and your done. If you want a little more detail I went over some of the veins and edges of the leaves with gel pens to sharpen the details.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Palette knife (plastic knife) painting on gel plate and then pulled on black cardstock

I have always had a love for printmaking but I couldn’t afford the cost or the space for a press for printing but two years ago I discovered the Gelli Arts® Company and I have been hooked! With the gel plates you don’t need a press so after many years of not printing I have rediscovered the joy of printing again and I even teach numerous classes on gel printing throughout the year. I am so excited to share with you a new art venture I am embarking on; I have been asked by the Gelli Arts® Company to be a brand ambassador for their product line of gel printing plates!

This year my program Art Has No Barriers is in its second phase at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center. Through this I have taught the gel printing process to those with and without disabilities. The gel plates are a great hands-on art project and it has been very well received for the positive impact it has been having on those who participate in the program and in the community.

As a Brand Ambassador for Gelli Arts® I will be working with a team of artists from around the world to bring exciting and creative projects to you all. To make sure you have an opportunity to create alongside me, the company will is offering a 10% discount of Gelli Arts® products if you order with my code: CatherineTP @

I am thrilled to start this new chapter in my art career and to bring you along on this journey! I will share some photos of some of the things I have printed and you can see some things my students have printed with gel plates here at my Art Has No Barriers facebook page. I hope you will share what you create with me, too! Please "Like" my fb page C.L.Tonning.Artist to keep up with my latest creations.

The possibilities ahead of us are endless!

Ink & Acrylic on Parchment Paper

Jewelry made from Gel Prints
Printing on gel plate with feathers on handmade paper

Pocket journals made by gel printing on manilla envelopes