Printing and Drawing With Dawn Emerson

Pastel and mixed media artist Dawn Emerson has been featured in our competition book Strokes of Genius. She was recently in our photo studio doing work for her upcoming book with us, Pastel Innovations. I wanted to share some of the excitement and show one of her interesting techniques. Inside the book you’ll find a lot of great techniques. One that I found really different is the way she uses a brayer to draw. You can change the angle of the brayer to create lines, marks, texture and more for backgrounds in your pieces. You can even alter the brayer for more unique shapes and lines. Read below and give it a try yourself!

Dawn Emerson - brayer marks

Brayer marks: The brayer is inked evenly and pressed onto the paper without rolling to create lines that are the width of the brayer.

Dawn Emerson - brayer lines

Brayer lines: The brayer is inked and tipped on edge and the brayer is rolled, leaving behind thin lines.

Dawn Emerson - brayer texture

Brayer texture: The brayer is inked unevenly, then rocked back and forth as it is rolled.

Dawn Emerson - overlapping strokes

Overlapping strokes: Overlapping strokes create layering of depth and variation in the opacity of the color.

Dawn Emerson - combining marks

Combining marks: Mix and match brayer techniques for interesting effects. In this example, lines are combined with rolled strokes.

Dawn Emerson - lap lines

Lap lines: The brayer’s diameter will determine how long a roll you can go before running low on ink. Each revolution will print softer and lighter until the ink is replenished. If your goal is to achieve a perfectly smooth surface, lap lines may not be desirable.

Dawn Emerson covers each of these drawing techniques with the brayer in her new book. Now that you have the basics down, try doing some alteration. The brayer can be used as a rolling stamp. You can add lines and shapes with string, tape, pastel and more to create interesting new marks with just the one simple tool: the brayer!

Brayer Wrap Step 1: Wrap thread around the brayer and then charge the brayer with ink. Depending on how you ink the brayer, the string will appear as continuous squiggle lines. You can also ink the brayer first, then wrap it with string.

Brayer Wrap Step 1:
Wrap thread around the brayer and then charge the brayer with ink. Depending on how you ink the brayer, the string will appear as continuous squiggle lines. You can also ink the brayer first, then wrap it with string.

Brayer Wrap Step 2: The image and pattern of the string blocks the ink and leaves a continuous pattern of squiggles as you roll.

Brayer Wrap Step 2:
The image and pattern of the string blocks the ink and leaves a continuous pattern of squiggles as you roll.

Masking out the Brayer Step 1: Attach pieces of masking tape or painter's tape to the brayer.

Masking out the Brayer Step 1:
Attach pieces of masking tape or painter’s tape to the brayer.

Masking out the Brayer Step 2: Roll the brayer in ink, then roll the brayer over your paper.

Masking out the Brayer Step 2:
Roll the brayer in ink, then roll the brayer over your paper.

Pastel as a Resist Step 1: Draw on a piece of paper with soft pastel, then roll over the pastel with an inked brayer.

Pastel as a Resist Step 1:
Draw on a piece of paper with soft pastel, then roll over the pastel with an inked brayer.

Pastel as a Resist Step 2: Roll the brayer onto another piece of paper and notice how the pastel blocks out the ink.

Pastel as a Resist Step 2:
Roll the brayer onto another piece of paper and notice how the pastel blocks out the ink.

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