Bored of using your paintbrush to paint? Or perhaps you’re looking to incorporate new textures and shapes into your paintings. Either way, here are some household items you probably have lying around (or are headed for the trash) that you can use to create some unusual textures!

Foam Net

Foam nets or foam fruit wrappers are those squishy nets you sometimes find that are wrapped around fruits that are easily bruised, like apples and peaches. They’re usually discarded pretty quickly, but you can try painting with them first!

All you have to do is cut out the size you want out of the net, then prep some watercolour paint in a flat dish. Once the foam net has picked up enough paint, gently press it down onto a sheet of watercolour paper. You can use a sketchbook too if you like, or do a quick test on a scrap sheet of paper first.

If you want a clearer texture of the foam net, use hot press paper, as the smoother surface makes the paint easier to transfer from the net to the paper. If you want a rougher, grungy look, go for cold press or rough watercolour paper.

Tip: If you want to use this texture as a sort of striped background, you can block out the middle of your watercolour paper using artist’s tape or a cut-out sheet of scrap paper before pressing the foam net on top. Once the paint is dry, you can remove the tape or scrap paper, and add whatever you want to the clean area!


Also known as Saran wrap or plastic wrap, clingfilm is an often-overlooked tool for watercolour painting. Using it is pretty easy! 

First, tape down the edges of a sheet of watercolour paper to a wooden board (or hard surface). Then, paint a wash of watercolour paint. You can use the wet-in-wet technique here if you want a blend of different colours.

While the paint is still wet, gently lay a cut-out sheet of clingfilm on top. Make sure that the clingfilm is wrinkled, not smooth. You can press down some areas and control the pattern you want to a certain extent, but I usually prefer the randomness of the texture!

Once the clingfilm is down, leave your painting to dry halfway before gently peeling the clingfilm off. Then, leave the painting to dry before adding more layers, or you could leave it as it is.

You’ll notice that the areas where the clingfilm was touching the paper are darker than the air pockets that were created, which generates this cool crystal-like effect.

Bubble Wrap

For bubble wrap, the process is similar to the one for clingfilm. 

You might have to weigh down the bubble wrap with a small dish or something similar to keep it from lifting off.

The resulting texture is also quite different, which you can see above. I recommend that if you plan on layering other things on top of these textures, you should dilute your paint more so that it dries quite light.


I’ve seen professionals use a straw to paint things before, and they make it look so cool! They usually stick to painting tree branches, which you can try for yourself.

The concept is quite simple. First, drop a large bead or a small puddle of watercolour paint onto your paper. Then, point the end of a straw towards the paint, angling it in the opposite direction of where you want the paint to go. And last – you guessed it – blow through the straw to make the bead of paint move!

Make sure your paper is flat before painting like this, as the bead of water may be pulled to a different direction due to gravity. You can also adjust how you breathe out the straw to create different effects – a quick puff aimed at the centre for a splash effect, or a gentle breath for more control. 

Note: While it’s a great idea to be environmentally friendly and use a metal or glass straw instead of a plastic one, once you paint with the straw, I don’t recommend using it to drink things with again. Also, do be careful not to inhale! Paints can be quite toxic, especially when ingested or inhaled.


Last but not least is the humble tissue. You might have already used one to help lift out mistakes in a painting, but have you ever tried doing more? For example, you can make some pretty awesome clouds. Just paint a wash of light blue on your paper, then after scrunching up your tissue, dab out some cloud shapes

The soft tissue should also create softer edges around your clouds, which makes this ideal for creating anything light and fluffy, such as clouds and cotton balls. 

In a way, this is like “reverse painting”, where you’re removing paint to create your subject! However, I will say that for some paints, it’s very hard to lift them out entirely, so you might not get the pure white of the paper back. Still, tissue is great for softening the edges of your paint, so give it a try if you haven’t already. 

Experiments Galore

So don’t be shy, and start painting! And do share any ideas you may have with us – we love to see what our art community have come up with using our products.

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Nicola Tsoi is a practising graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. During her downtime, she likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 

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