Rainbow Grunge Backgrounds

~ * ~

This article is written by Kate Palmer (aka Sparkle Tart)

Today I’m going to show you all how to create a vibrant Rainbow Grunge Background suitable for cards, pages, journal backgrounds and even canvas!  This background style is particularly useful for low mojo days as it is low stress, uses up extra paint, when finished can be used as a base for many different projects and of course, it can be created in any colours you like!

Finished background using Rainbow Grunge Technique

Journal Background

To create a page similar to mine you will need:

  • Lindy’s Stamp Gang Starburst Spray: Time Travel Teal and Flat Fabios: Summer Lovin’ Sun, Ocean Breeze Blue, Hibiscus Rose and T-bird Turquoise
  • Delta Ceramcoat Acrylic Paint:  Seashell White, Royal Fuchsia, Deep Lilac and Laguna Blue
  • Ranger Archival Ink Pads: Deep Purple, Aquamarine, Magenta Hue and Watering Can
  • Delicata Ink Pad – Golden Glitz


  • Dina Wakely & Stampington – Create with Abandon & Script Heart
  • Stampers Anonymous – Spills & Splatters
  • Pam Carriker – Honeycomb
  • Kaisercraft – Bubble Wrap
  • Old credit card or paint scraper

Step One – randomly spray paper or canvas with a variety of Lindy’s Stamp Gang Sprays and allow to dry.

Rainbow Grunge Step 1

Step Two – using a credit card and Ceramcoat Royal Fuchsia paint, add a little paint to the background by dipping an edge into the paint (I squeeze a little onto my work surface to make this easier) and then scraping the edge along the paper.  Make sure you only add a tiny amount of paint to the credit card otherwise you will end up covering far too much of the background, less is more definitely applies with this technique.

Rainbow Grunge Step 2

Step Three – using this same scraping technique add a little of the Laguna Blue – I like to overlap the colours a little – notice how they appear translucent and you can see one colour behind the other – this can only be achieved by scraping very thin layers of paint – add too much and you lose this effect.

Rainbow Grunge Step 3

Step Four – is a little more subtle as a result of the colour of paint I used – Deep Lilac.  In this step continue to scrape paint onto the background, but add a few horizontal elements.  I like to make sure there is still uncovered background so the whole thing doesn’t end up looking too busy.

Rainbow Grunge Step 4

Step Five – time to tone it down a bit by adding some of the Seashell White (you could a watered down gesso for this if you need to).  Add the white over roughly 1/3 of your paint in both horizontal and vertical directions – it helps to break up the paint streaks and tone down the colours a little.

Rainbow Grunge Step 5

After you paint has dried it’s time to add some stamped images, using Ranger’s Archival Inks.

Stamping on Rainbow Grunge Background

Step Six – using Aquamarine ink add some Bubble Wrap impressions, I like to hold the unmounted stamp in my hand to create these marks as you get a more random and less perfect impression.

Stamping on Rainbow Grunge Background Step 6

Step Seven – using Magenta Hue ink add some Honeycomb stamped images, notice how I’ve echoed the colours used on the first background layer in both the paint and ink layers – this helps to keep the background unified and stops it looking to overwhelming.

Stamping on Rainbow Grunge Background Step 7

Step Eight – time to add a little darkness to the background – but be careful not to overwhelm the more delicately coloured layers underneath.  I’ve used Deep Purple ink and the Script Heart stamp, but to keep it soft, for several of the stamped images I have inked my stamp then stamped lightly on scrap paper before stamping onto my project.  This creates a lighter coloured impression.

Stamping on Rainbow Grunge Background Step 8

Step Nine – this is my favourite part, I’ve added the beautiful text stamp Create with Abandon using Gold ink – while it may not add any additional colour it adds a textural element to the page and catches the light.

Stamping on Rainbow Grunge Background Step 9

Step 10 – this is the final background element and is the only additional colour I have used – Watering Can – a wonderful grey.  I’ve used one of the Spills & Splatters stamps to add a little extra grunge to the background and tone it down a little more.

Stamping on Rainbow Grunge Background Step 10

Now for a few close-ups so you can see the background elements.

It’s important to have a little bit of ‘something’ everywhere on the page as you never know which bits will be seen in the final piece.  You can see all of the layers and elements – the translucent images and paint marks, really help to bring this background together.

Rainbow Grunge Background Close Up 1

Just a little touch of gold can really lift the colours around it.

Rainbow Grunge Background Close Up 2

While I created this page in one session, the fantastic thing about this background is you could easily create it overtime with the leftovers from other projects.  You could create the first layer from over sprayed liquid, the paint scrapings could be left over paint that you add as you need to (rather than waste it) and the stamped images could easily be added whenever you have ink left over on a stamp – you could even play with the order that each item is added to the page, eg: stamps then ink then paint, as each layer is translucent you will still see each element.  Cool huh!

Challenge and Give-Away Winners

Now I’d like to issue a little challenge – I want to know how YOU would use this background – now that you’ve created it what would YOU use it for, what comes next? THANK YOU for all of your comments and inspiration – it is amazing what can be done with a wonderful background!

And the winners are:

Carole Furlong and Joan McAlpine

Carole Furlong says:
“I love this – the lovely warm yellow survives to the last layer – gorgeous. I would use as a background in my art journal. I think I’s do something like a technical drawing over the top – scaffolding, pipes, conveyor belts and that sort of thing – would be a great contrast to the prettiness of the background”

Joan McAlpine says:
What a beautiful, bright background. More like spring than dull and dark winter in Melbourne.
Firstly, I’d photocopy the original and then play to my hearts content with such things like a small Banksy stencil or a silhouette stamp in black archival ink on the top. Of course I could decorate my studio wall (only one with the window as it might be too much if I did more) and use it as wallpaper, then the colours are there all the time to remind me what works. This would be more interesting than the two colour wheels that hang there (obviously one is not enough as colour is sooo… important).” I love the idea or a living color wheel wall!

Ladies – please email Michelle [Michelle @ MixedMediaArt.net] and we will con-ordinate with Kate to get your prizes posted to you!

Plus a HUGE “thank you” to Kate for offering the give aways!


Kate Palmer though perhaps better known as Sparkle Tart loved playing with mixed media and techniques.  Most of her work incorporates sparkly media of some sort, which is used on journal pages, canvases, scrapbooks or hand made cards.

You can see more of Kate’s work at Sparkle Tart or via Facebook – Keep It Simply Sparkly




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  1. Sue Pompetti says:

    I would use it as a background on a substrate to make a mixed media collage.

  2. April Lopez says:

    I think I would use one of the beautiful face stamps from Donna Downey or Dina Wakely and then create crazy hair with a black marker with maybe some gold highlights. Then some awesome journaling about freedom.

  3. Deena says:

    I can see myself creating this background on some cardstock and then cutting it up to use on a series of cards

  4. Randi Case says:

    I’d like to create this background on a reinforced canvas, start adding found objects. Think it could develop into an awesome mixed media piece.

  5. Jill Powel says:

    I see a cityscape collage or possibly a mixed media collage

  6. Amanda Byron says:

    I think this would be a great background for a nostalgic 80s journal layout. =)

  7. Diane Wayne says:

    That background is awesome, I am always trying to learn new ideas when painting. We don’t have access to classes here in Darwin. I would write this wonderful saying in memory of Dr Maya Angelou – You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated. I would also put some beautiful dragonflies. Thank you 🙂

  8. Kate, this was such a cool way to make a colorful background! I don’t use many colors, per se, as a background in my illustrations but I do like to layer them, as you’ve done here, for the subject matter. With this background, I would experiment with some cut-out collage and make custom envelopes for stationary. Thank you, Kate!

  9. Jami says:

    This is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would use this as a background for a mixed media painting. I have been on the fence about ordering these sprays form Lindy’s Stamp Gang and now I’ve decided I must try some. Such vibrant fun colors. Thanks for the tutorial. LOVE IT!!!!

  10. Carole Carlson says:

    I like this a lot. While it makes for a great start to a project, I can also see myself cutting shapes out of it to use in other projects. Stars come to mind.

  11. Marlene Leeson says:

    This is a lovely background, “chock full of color” – love it! First thing that came to mind is a “zentangle”, which would provide a monochromatic foreground to a colorful background, producing a lovely graphic contrast.

  12. I love this – the lovely warm yellow survives to the last layer – gorgeous. I would use as a background in my art journal. I think I’s do something like a technical drawing over the top – scaffolding, pipes, conveyor belts and that sort of thing – would be a great contrast to the prettiness of the background

  13. Bernice Pierre says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! The background is beautiful and I can use it so many ways! I will use it for scrapbooking as well as on my collage backgrounds!

  14. sokat says:

    couple of things come to my mind but I think that I would use it to cover my art journal and then use an image transfer technique to place a face of a woman on it.

  15. Mela Jarchow says:

    I am 13 and I would use it to paint the walls in my walk-in closet that need to be repainted due to water damage. I used to doodle on these walls with permanent marker. My closet is where I go when I need some time alone from my other 5 siblings. 🙂

  16. I think it would make a beautiful cover for a mini album or a handmade art journal.

  17. shawna vail says:

    This was a fun to try and a good opportunity to play with fun colors! Trying to figure out where to post my pic….

  18. shawna vail says:

    Sorry, I forgot to tell you I plan to put this in my art journal and then collage on some old magazine ads from the fifties and sixties.

  19. Buff Holtman says:

    This interesting background will be used as an atmospheric background for a traditional image. What a fun way to create nuances for my mixed media pieces.

  20. Karen Schroeder says:

    I would use it to make a number of cards! Love the technique…can’t wait to try it!

  21. Ann says:

    It is a lovely! If this were on canvas I would make this into a clutch style purse with the addition of some sewn on die cut flowers from the same canvas.


  23. Deb Bonogofsky says:

    I’d use it as an art journal spread. I’m seeing a heart in a hand silhouetted against that awesome background. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Kitty! says:

    I’d make a bunch of ATCs to trade! It’s beautiful!

  25. Belli Bone says:

    This would make some gorgeous paper beads, by cutting in long thin triangles, and edging the paper in that lovely gold. Or for some reason I see it cut in strips, then woven, THEN used in a mixed media canvas. Yummy!

  26. lise tessier says:

    how cool is that? i can see other color schemes, and some collage added. gold details are showing off nicely, aren’t they? thanks for the inspiration.

  27. Love this idea. It’s a great background to tangle.
    Thanks for sharing.

  28. sharon Canzi says:

    I love this background and would use it on canvas to make a bag. It would match so many outfits and would brighten any day. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. I love Lindys Stamp Gang products.

  29. Jan says:

    I would hang this little gem right on the wall. I LOVE abstract and color — it’s a WINNER from the get-go.

  30. Melissa says:

    I know a teenage girl who would love this for her bedroom – add some photos of her friends and frame it… it would be perfect.

  31. Victoria H. says:

    Oh this is a gorgeous background and will be definitely giving it a go thanks to the wonderful tutorial. I would use it either as background pieces for my cards or art journal page. I also see using it to die cut pieces like clouds, rainbows and such to create pieces for my card or journal pages. Thank you, Kate for the tutorial and chance to win some Lindy’s (they looks fabulous)!

  32. Ellie Horning says:

    Beautiful! I love this technique. I see a hand on one side with lettering going towards the other. The touch of gold is the perfect ending touch! Thanks for the chance to win some of Lindy’s awesome sprays!

  33. Denise Huntington says:

    This is the most beautiful grunge I’ve seen! I would use it on a canvas as the background for a mixed media piece with a painted girl on it or embellished butterflies/dragonflies and a mantra/quote of some kind. Thanks for the tutorial!

  34. Trish says:

    Wow – so many possibilities! Cut outs, use as a background for a bodacious journal page, maybe with collage, part of a painting – or acts, or even postcards.

  35. Pamela says:

    This is awesome – I would use it for my art journal.

  36. Mindy M. says:

    I would love to use the soft multi-colors background on a stretched canvas, adding collage items from the beach and sea. I love making art panels with canvas backgrounds to decorate my sunroom, which is decorated in a seaside theme. Thanks for this tutorial.

  37. Cindy Sikes says:

    I love the colors! I’d use it as a background to paint a whimsical lady. Never thought of that till now! Thanks for giving me a new idea!

  38. Jan Nicholas says:

    Can’t wait to try this love the idea of doing this over time with “leftovers.” Would use with a profound quotation in my art journal.

  39. Rob Keogh says:

    Hi Kate, love this background and love the idea of creating it as you have paints and inks left over from a project. I would make this background as a two page spread in my art journal then stamp or draw some words that resound with the page.

  40. Gabriela says:

    I love this background, the colors that you used are so nice together.
    I would use this background on a canvas, and draw a girl’s face with her hair flowing as she dances in the foreground, then I would add a quote about dancing and being free:)

  41. Vicky R says:

    I would use it as a cover for my new handmade journal. Thanks for a great technique.

  42. Jean Mullins says:

    What a lovely background this would make for a collage or similar its beautiful full of flowers sunshine and rainbows.

  43. Julie Smith says:

    Someone has already nicked my idea. But I could see a great bookmark with collaged and sewn overlays, then making beads from the leftover paper with a little extra gold embellishment then attached to the bookmarks with yummy fibres.

  44. Lesley Foster, Mrs says:

    I would use it as a colourful rio inspired fathers day card back ground
    I would try to find images of exotic birds to colour as a focal point for the card (relatives dont get mixed media art). I am loving the Rio theme at the moment. It is a great background.

  45. Barbara Inabnit says:

    I would use the Rainbow Grunge for journaling pages, then create large diagonal pockets out of complementary paper/cardstock…..or just the reverse…..use the Grunge for the large diagonal pockets and put them on a contrasting background page.

  46. Candy P says:

    I am taking a bookbinding class in a couple weeks and would either use this background for pages, after processing both sides, or mount it for the cover. Excellent substrate for adding poems or text.

  47. Viki tolhurst says:

    Hi Kate what a wonderful background. I would use one for my mini canvas collection. I create mini canvases like atc cards practicing different technics and ideas.thank you

  48. Tora Geirs says:

    I did take some bookbinding class this spring and I would love to use this as a cover of a sketchbook I am making for myself.

  49. Marilynn Rask says:

    You could use this background for anything, cards, journal pages, covers, I would used on canvas and make a tote.

  50. Dyan says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m going to use it as background pages and bind them in a small handmade journal so I can just keep going on those “low mojo days”. Doing this technique on the back and front of extra large sheets would easily make all the pages for the small journal and in turn will surely get my creative juices flowing just looking at it. 🙂

  51. Susan Alabaster says:

    I love to incorporate someone’s favorite poem in my designs. This would be a perfect background for that. I can’t wait to get started. I’m truly inspired! Thank you!

  52. Sheila Longden says:

    I’ve yet to create my first art journal. this is a great technique for a cover. I also make sculptures/dolls using fabric hardeners. I’ve always made them free standing but want to try aplaque style. This would be a great background, and one easily adaptable to the different themes. I hate wasting all my colours and never thought of using the leftovers as an ongoing piece of work. Thank you for helping me see new possibilities.

    cheers Sheila

  53. Maggie Mariner says:

    I would use Suzi Blu style female images in very dark red and other shades of red.
    I like the idea of flowing locks, femininity and pouty lips

  54. nadine says:

    I would use for art journal pages and background on canvas for a painting and try to use it on material as well if I could figure out a way.

  55. Lori Whaley says:

    I would use it to make backgrounds for cards and or scrapbooking pages! It is beautiful!

  56. I would take big bold masks of any shape and make the rest black with spraypaint… awesome bacground!

  57. Ann Powell says:

    Great start for ATCs or postcards and would just add found poetry. Also great for paper punching and creating my own embellishments–flowers, hearts, stars. Thanks for another great idea to get the art juices flowing this morning!

  58. Shaunna Nalinnes says:

    Definitely would make a great journal page! I’d add a quote with black acrylic marker (like Montana) and possibly a face/girl. With the base being so pretty, I’d hate to lose much of it with other “stuff”!

  59. Ann-Marie O'Rourke Lafrenaye says:

    I would use it in a mix media canvas it has all the colors I love and tend to use. I can see me adding some metal pieces to the canvas as well.!!!!

    Thank you for a chance to win!!!!!

  60. Robin B says:

    This would make a great background for a drawn or stenciled face.

  61. Patty Clark says:

    Love the layers that show through in this process. It would look great in a mixed media collage. And I think I would use it to create some ATC’s and swap with my arty friends.

  62. Barbara says:

    So many uses for these great backgrounds! I would most likely use some clear gesso over certain areas and add a figure or any some doodles!!!

  63. I would use this background for a portrait painting to contribute spirit and energy to the design.

  64. Linda Teresi says:

    I would use this exciting backgroud to print on mulberry paper, then make greeting cards, and collage onto a large painting. Fun! Thank you!

  65. Barbara Morlan says:

    I would love to used it in my journal for a back ground page

  66. Tamra says:

    I would use this to take brown butcher paper, decorate it for a beautiful wrapping paper. Then let the person use it for their own backgroun(s).

  67. Felicia Aaron says:

    What a colorful background! I just love it! I think I would totally love to use this for mixed media tags! Tags are some of my favorite things to do where you can be creative in a small way to give to others! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  68. Lately I have been making very flat mixed-media collage pieces to be used in the plastic pockets of high school student notebooks. This process is one that I have often used and I do love the variations you can get with it. Most students love the individuality of being able to identify their notebook from others, and could easily be taught to use this mixed-media collage idea within an art/craft setting, especially in a Literature class, where a journal of writings is kept. The mixed media piece on the journal could be changed out every month to accommodate a theme if the teacher assigned one. It could even be used as a mat for a poetry presentation. There are lots of artistic connections for core curriculum using with this process.

  69. Saranne says:

    I would make little accordian journal books!

  70. Joan McAlpine says:

    What a beautiful, bright background. More like spring than dull and dark winter in Melbourne.
    Firstly, I’d photocopy the original and then play to my hearts content with such things like a small Banksy stencil or a silhouette stamp in black archival ink on the top. Of course I could decorate my studio wall (only one with the window as it might be too much if I did more) and use it as wallpaper, then the colours are there all the time to remind me what works. This would be more interesting than the two colour wheels that hang there (obviously one is not enough as colour is sooo… important).

  71. Vicki Robinson says:

    I think I would cut the background into shapes and attach meet to various on journal pages, doodling in them to and more layers and interest. Thanks so much for the opportunity to win.

  72. jean marmo says:

    This is just beautiful! Several thoughts popped into my head. One was to use it for a simple layout adding just a photo and a few embellies leaving lots of white space – not really white! The other was to cut it into flower, petals, shapes and outline them in a matching dark color. Thanks for the tips on how to achieve this looK!

  73. I would love to put a Michael DeMeng recipe for sepia over these colors. How thin of a sepia coat would depend on how much “Wow” factor I would want to show through! My work is usually done with various shades and lots of sepia tones and then “Glitz’d up” with however much “bling” I need for the message I’m trying to get across with my Assemblage Art Pieces. I work in box, plaque and canvas forms. Your brighter colors would really make parts of the background of my boxes, “Pop”!
    I would also find it fun to do your techniques here, with my sepia tones instead of bright colors, just to see how the finished product would “play” on my pieces!
    Thank you so much for sharing your “gems of knowledge”!!

  74. Elizabeth Kaplan says:

    I have been painting faves over abstract backgrounds and can’t wait to try this technique in my journal or on canvas. So effective, and I LOVE color!

  75. Elizabeth Kaplan says:


  76. Judy quate says:

    I create inspirational mixed media paintings with quotes. I specialize in disability awareness. I just completed a memoir of my son who lived for 28 years with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. It is in production now with Tate Publishers.

    My son is my so,e inspiration and with his guidance from above I taught myself mixed media through magazines, books, YouTube and NJ Create Retreat sponsored by Interweave, Cloth, Paper,scissors magazine.

    This technique is beautiful and it would be a perfect background to place my quotes on along with a few other embellishments for interest.

    Thank you for sharing your technique and I will definitely use it and honor you for the design.

  77. Peggy Depue says:

    I would use this idea on 300lb watercolor paper for a background to a painting. I’ve recently been combining my art with some of my children’s art to give them for their homes rather than having the box of keepsake precious kids artwork underneath my bed! Always yearning to try new products.

  78. Joanna Grant says:

    This is such a great background. I think I would use it as a base for some gelatin plate printing to add even more layers and texture to it and then mount the paper on canvas as a backdrop for mixed media collage.

  79. Marita Kovalik says:

    Amazing background. Can’t wait to try it….first in my Dyan Reaveley journal, but I have been dying to do a collage piece on canvas. This background would be amazing. I’m pulling out the credit cards now instead of cutting them up! ha!
    Thank you for the inspiring tutorial! Beautiful work!

  80. Dawn says:

    Wow! I love it. Great u
    se of color and technique. I would definetely use it in my new
    Journal for my first grandchild due in awhile.

  81. Beachcomber says:

    Pretty background. I would use it for my cards and art journal pages.

  82. Y says:


    I would do this on watercolor paper and use it to make ATCs. I would mount silhouettes in black on them. Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.

  83. Vicky says:

    I would love to use this for gift boxes. The color and style would be good for any number of occasions;

  84. Fran says:

    So many ideas come to me, but in my art journal, using both pages, I would make a full page flourish, in black ink and then put wonderful words of wisdom from a famous artist., also in black, on the other page. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this give away.

  85. Janet says:

    Lovely background! To me this looks like springtime in Paris in a gentle rain. All the bright colours of the flowers blurred and melting together. I would turn this into a scene with a woman drinking coffee at a cafe and people with umbrellas. And, of course, the Eiffel tower.

  86. Barbara says:

    I would use them in cards, scrapbook backgrounds , ATC’s and art quilts. Love the grunge style.
    Perfect for steampunk to.

  87. Crystal R says:

    I see a face in the center of the pages so I would add a face with gazing out. Thanks for the fabulous tutorial, I am super excited to try this technique!

  88. Kristin Langlais says:

    I love this background! I still have a hard time of layering over things I like so I would be so tempted to just hang this up as is. I think it would work as awesome pieces too for “she-art” girls, such as their dresses or a background to place them on 🙂

  89. April Lopez says:

    I would make pretty backgrounds for my art journals.

  90. Raine says:

    This would be a great background in my art journal! I would add either a large, focal image or a favorite quote. This would be a cool background for a face.

  91. TR says:

    If this is on canvas/fabric I would make a purse and stitch one of my free motion faces next to the heart… or it’s in a journal I would use that great heart and add some cool text, stamps, then make some more hearts from canvas/card stock in deeper colors and add them for dimension…