We're an online artist community sharing ways to create and sell art. Try one of our easy websites for artists or just browse around and enjoy!

How to Add a Colorful Bleeding Tissue Technique to Your Handmade Cards

Last month my husband and I lost George, a friend who had just celebrated his 90th birthday. At the celebration of life service, I learned a few new things about him from his family and friends—they noted his many accomplishments and how he continued doing what mattered to him, even after having a serious stroke.

The service was both somber and upbeat, and included a heartfelt poem that George had written years before. In our years of friendship, he also shared his interest in watercolor and designing projects that he built during his retirement.

So to honor George’s memory, and show how much his friendship meant to us, I decided to make a celebration of life card for the family. Bleeding tissue brings vibrant color possibilities, which is a little out of my comfort zone but it fit this project because of George’s interests. And I decided to choose excerpts from his poem in pencil because he would have often used those in sketching out plans.

Note: Thsi technique is often used in children’s art classes, but if you missed out on doing it earlier in life, here’s a chance to catch up!

Here are the materials you’ll need:

1. Pacon brand Spectra (bleeding) Art Tissue (no substitutes!)

2. A few sheets of hot pressed watercolor paper, at least 140 lbs/300 g/m. (I recommend 9×12”, but any size you have is fine. Cold pressed paper is fine, also, but it’s harder to write on.)

3. 1/2 – 1” flat or pointed brush

4. plastic paper to protect your working surface (remember this tissue bleeds and will stain)

5. A sharp object to lift the tissue when paper is dry

6. Old clothes to wear!

The bleeding tissue technique:

Choose a few or a lot of colors. Cut tissue into varied sizes and shapes, squares, triangles, etc. Or, you can tear it into strips. Experiment!


Brush clean water over the paper. You don’t want puddles, but get it wet. Place the tissue randomly and quickly into position. Because I intended to letter on the paper afterward, I did a border design on the left and bottom edges. The amount of water is important. You want enough to release the colors, but not pool.

Keep an eye on it and if it needs a little more moisture (i.e. if it’s not bleeding), touch the tissue with a damp brush.

You can also mist it gently, although the mister can move the paper if the spray is too robust—so apply just enough water to get the color moving.


Let the tissue dry for 10-20 minutes, or until the paper is not shiny. Tilt the paper up and most of the tissue will fall off. Remove remaining pieces with the tip of a paring knife or similar tool.

Using a pencil I lettered some words from George’s poem. I hope I captured his spirit for his family and I felt an artistic kinship with George’s spirit as I created this.


Our words (and art) are eternal. That’s worth celebrating!

Imagine if everyone left a poem behind as beautiful as this one. . . what would yours be? What do you care about?

I hope you’ll join me for more projects, classes, and tips, at Calligraphy and Design by Phawnda on Facebook.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

London-born painter Louise Chatfield channels her love of England's coastline to create gorgeous semi-abstract paintings that celebrate the stunning play of light across land and water. Take, for example, Looking Across the Water. This painting is a perfect example of how the atmospheric conditions of a place can greatly enhance a. . . read more

More related articles
If you're looking for something else. . .
Love the Easel?

Subscribe to our totally free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!

Art Contests
More art contests. . .
Other Stuff
EE Writers
Cassie Rief Niki Hilsabeck Lisa Orgler Carrie Lewis Aletta de Wal Phawnda Moore

If you'd like to write for EmptyEasel, let us know!

We love publishing reader-submitted art tutorials, stories, and even reviews.Submit yours here!
© 2006-2018 EmptyEasel.com About Contact Sitemap Privacy Policy Terms of Use Advertise