Incorporating Stamps Into Your Decorative Painting

Margaret Riley

by Tammie Wilson, Designer and Artist
Courtesy of Stampendous


My background and passion is painting but my time, like yours, is limited. I realized when Stampendous launched their first Jumbo Cling Rubber Stamp Sets back in 2012 that I could use those stamps to lay down my pattern instead of spending hours tracing and transferring designs. I, also, realized that planned properly, I could avoid basecoating those images, too. So, I painted a box, then some canvases, a floor cloth, and…well, I haven’t stopped painting since!

The larger images are perfect for creating home décor accessories, wall decor, and more. Any surface you would normally paint on, you can use these stamps on (i.e. wood, canvas, glass, etc.) Flat surfaces and, yes, even curved surfaces! Cling rubber stamps can be used on or off the acrylic handle so they work on just about any surface!

Background and Basecoats

Whether you start with one solid color or create a faux finish background, the choice is yours. Solid color backgrounds offer a cleaner more contemporary look. Faux finished backgrounds help to create texture and interest in your piece. Sponging is really quick and easy, ragging or just loosely slip-slapping a couple of colors on, makes it look like you spent hours prepping your surface, even though we know you didn’t.

When selecting a background color, it is important that you think about and coordinate the color with the images you are stamping since those images do not get basecoated. They are simply shaded and/or highlighted and the background color shows through. This, however, does not mean that if you want to paint a pink flower that your background needs to be pink. Colors in nature are inter-mingled. A pink flower is not solid pink and has shades of pink with maybe a touch of green or yellow. So, paint your background a pale yellow, highlight and shade in pinks, and let that yellow shine through. This will help to add softness to your painting, along with interest and dimension.

Protecting the Layers

The key to this technique is protecting what you already have in place. So once your background is done, simply brush on one coat of a matte medium and let dry. Now you can start stamping and creating your design, if you make a mistake or simply don’t like what you have done, clean it off with a wet wipe! You can add a protective coat of Matte Medium at any time throughout the process. If you finish a flower and you are really pleased with it and are thinking about layering another element near it- apply Matte Medium. If your idea works, great! If not, just wipe it off.

Creating Depth and Interest

Overlapping stamp images, using tones similar to your background, is a great way to add subtle interest to your project. You could simply use the same jumbo image, but not paint it in, just leave the outline. Or you could use any of the multitudes of images that are on the market right now, like postcards, Eiffel Towers, gears, flowers, crackled backgrounds, tags, etc. There are literally thousands of choices out there. The key is soft tonal colors so you don’t distract from your main image.

Templates and Designing

Whether you are using an existing design/pattern for inspiration or striking out on your own, templates will make your life easier. If the stamp set comes with a template, all the better. If not, simply stamp the desired images on a piece of white cardstock and cut out. Use the templates to block out unwanted elements when you are overlapping images or use them as a tool when deciding on design and placement. Save your templates and store them with the corresponding stamp, they can be used over and over again.

Stamping with Paint

When using paint on stamps, it is very important that you do not overload the image. Pour a puddle of paint out on the palette. Using the smallest end of a dense foam make-up sponge, tap into the paint and pounce the sponge on a clean area of the palette. When you look at the bottom of the sponge, it should be covered by paint, but you should still be able to see the texture of the sponge. If you can’t see the texture of the sponge, you have too much paint on your sponge. Now quickly pounce the loaded sponge over the entire image and stamp it on the surface. Yes, you have to work quickly because acrylic paint dries fast, but once you get the hang of the technique, it isn’t an issue. If you live in a very dry climate, and I say this with caution, you might to want to add just a drop of an extender to your paint to give yourself a little extra time. If you don’t like what you have stamped, simply wipe it off with a wet wipe! Since you already have a coat of matte medium to the surface, it will clean up easily.

Coloring the Image

Again, this goes back to planning your design and incorporating your background color with your images. If the background is a lighter shade, depending on the size of the image (such as a tiny petal or leaf) just float a shade at the base. On larger images, float a medium value color from the base towards the tip then reinforce with a smaller float in a deeper shade at the base. Leave the background to shine through as the highlight on the tips.

When working on dark backgrounds, apply a wide float of white about 2/3’s of the way from the tip of the petal toward the base. Go back and float the lightest value over the white. Then proceed as above.

Each image has to be evaluated on its own merits in regards to coverage. If the image is conducive to stroke work, such as a tulip or peony, this is another fun and interesting possibility. After stamping the image, float the shades at the base of each petal. Load a round or filbert brush with a medium value color, tip into white or a lighter value, and stroke away. Being careful not to make the strokes too long cover the shading at the base of the petal. A good rule of thumb is about half to two thirds of the way down the petal.


If your background is too light or too strong, which you may not discover until you are further along with your project, no worries. Since you’ve been applying those protective coats of matte medium as you work, simply apply light washes of one or two colors from the design to the background. Let dry between layers until you get the look you want.

Which way to go? If your focal image is too light and melts into the background you might want to add darker areas to your background to help separate the image and make it stand out more. If everything is too dark, add highlights to the tips of the petals and leaves. Light separates from dark and adds depth and dimension to your project. If your project looks flat, remember this: lighter highlights, darker shades. A good tip is to prop the project up in an area where you pass frequently and then leave it for a day or so. What’s the first thing you notice when you walk by the piece? You’ll know where to make adjustments if you just step away.

Clean-up and Storage

Clean-up is easiest if done immediately after you use the stamps. Scrub with soap and water and use an old toothbrush to get into the crevices. If you cannot or forget to clean the stamp right away, spray the stamp with rubbing alcohol and let sit a few minutes. Then clean with soap and water as usual.

Store stamps sets and templates together, either in their original packaging or in a storage system like Stuftainers. With proper care these stamps will offer infinite inspiration and possibilities for years to come! Enjoy!

*See Tammie Wilson's Free Project!

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