The sponging technique would have to be one of the quickest background techniques you can master. It can be applied onto any type of surface. It may even assist in concealing uneven and slightly damaged surfaces.
When I started my painting journey it was nearly always recommended to use a sea sponge when sponging. It’s natural and uneven imprint allows a more natural effect while avoiding a visible distinct pattern in your art work. After much trial and error over many years of experience in the art industry, I have found that sea sponges disintegrate rather quickly, leaving little pieces of themselves behind in my work which are impossible to remove. They are also relatively costly compared to the humble synthetic ones. So, personally, I prefer the synthetic type.
I have trained my wrist to flip, turn and twist while holding a synthetic sponge in its hand in a synchronised “uncoordinated” way – to avoid a repetitive pattern. Adding pressure when required, using a lighter hand in other instances. Loading at the right time to achieve the effect I’m after.
Materials required for the sponging background technique
Surface of your choice
Base coating brush
Two colours of Acrylic paint that work well together- Hint: White works well with any colour
With the brush basecoat the surface using the dominant colour. Wet the sponge, remove excess water then dip into your chosen paints keeping the colours separate on the same sponge and blend onto the surface simultaneously. Move the sponge around by turning and twisting it to avoid a repetitive pattern. Dry thoroughly.
Tips on sponging with acrylics
- Try: adding three or more colours
- Don’t over blend, make sure you can still see each distinct colour you have used on the surface (as well as the new mixes you have created)
- Let it dry, then sponge over with thick uneven blotches of metallic paint here and there
- Remember to cover the entire surface, even the edges.
Here are some examples of my completed work using the sponging technique as the background.
Please note; the background is there to complement rather than compete with the main artwork.
I wanted to recreate the feel of an old and worn out nautical porthole. This MDF framed mirror has lots and lots of sponged layers of acrylics (including metallic paints)
a variety of metallic paints sponged over black acrylic
Two colours of acrylics sponged over each MDF board
Sponging technique used to conceal a damaged frame
using small fragments of DecoArt Metallic Lustre over the black background helped to conceal the uneven surface
Dragon fly Notebook
sponging technique applied on fabric