Backgrounds for 1st Pages & Cover

Spread 1-Hope Journal

Here is the supply list of what you need to paint your background: 

  • Acrylic matte medium
  • Acrylic paint  in the colors of your choice ( I prefer Golden Fluid Acrylics)
  • Stencils/Templates of your choice
  • Paper towels
  • Paper for blotting
  • Protective covering for table/work area
  • Spray Bottle for water
  • 2 oz paint spray bottles in colors of your choice
  • toothbrush
  • Journal Pages to paint backgrounds on 

The following video is a demo of how I prepare the paper for this type of background:

The password for the video is: background

The following video is a demo of how I paint the backgrounds of the first pages of the Hope Journal:

The password for the video is: background

The following video shows the demo of painting the background of the cover:

The password for the video is: background

 hope cover flap open web





  1. Charlotte

    Hi Valerie, Could you please tell me what kind of matte medium you use. I have Liquitex but it is much thinner than what you are using in the video and I see you applying it with a brush. I am loving these lessons so much. Thank you, Charlotte

    • Hi Charlotte,
      I have used a few different kinds of matte medium, including a new one I am trying made by DecoArt Media. I like it very much so far. The others I have used are Golden (has been my most used up until this point) and Blick. The last Blick jar of matte medium I bought was not as quality as I would have liked. I ended up having to throw out the last 1/3 of the contents because it smelled bad. I haven’t had any trouble with any other Blick product, so maybe it was just a bad batch. I have not used Liquitex. I have heard a few complaints about it, but it seems like it still should work. It’s always safe to do a test on a scrap piece of watercolor paper or even card stock.

  2. Charlotte

    Hi again Valerie, Thank you for answering me so quickly. I guess my question is more about thickness than brand. The Liquitex is the thickness of Elmers glue. I have golden Regular Gel and Soft gel. They are so much thicker than the Liquitex but I’m thinking they are too thick. In your video, the medium you are using looks somewhere in-between the two I have. Sorry if I’m asking too many questions. Thank you. Oh, I just reread your answer…..I will look for the DecoArt Media.

    • No problem. The thickness of Elmers glue is good for what I’m using it for in the video, so Liquitex should be fine for thickness.

      • Charlotte

        Thank you again Valerie. I just have to add ……I made some Golden paint sprays….like in your video…..and I love them!!

  3. Ronda

    I noticed after you painted everything with the Matte medium your pages were curled. When you start the next video your pages appear flat. How do you get the pages to lay flat after painting? Thanks a bunch 😉

    • Hi Ronda, The pages usually flatten out as they dry. Sometimes the pages are curled if only one side has matte medium on it. If I coat the back side of the page also with medium and allow it to dry, it flattens out too.

  4. Karen

    I sprayed too much on the cover with the stencil and my handmade sprays, Can I gesso over it and start over. The marbling came out great for the flap so I want to try to Save it.

    • Yes, you can gesso over the cover and save the flap. It may need a few coats to cover, drying between each coat, if you want it to be bright white. Otherwise what shows through can add to the “history” of the journal 🙂 So glad the marbling worked out great!

  5. Silkina

    Valerie, could a heat tool be used to dry the pages or is it best to let air dry after using the medium? I’ve not used this product before. Does it take long to air dry?
    Respectfully, Silk

    • Silkina, you can use a heat tool. Just make sure it is totally dry and let the page cool down before writing on top etc.

  6. Carolyn (Antiera)

    Hi Valerie, I used Liquitex Professional Ultra Matte Gel Medium and Faber Castell PITT black artist pen for my quote, but I noticed that the black ink on my writing smudged when I went over it with gel medium even though the ink was dry. It had sat for about a day before applying the gel medium. I am just curious if I used too much gel medium. I figure the smudging is something that I can somehow fix when I finish the background, but was just curious if you would know why I would experience the smudging. I am still working slowly through all the courses. I truly love your beautiful style and creativity as well as the love of God that radiates throughout your work. Thank you!

    • Hi Carolyn,
      I haven’t used Liquitex mediums so I can’t speak to that to know if it is the brand of acrylic matte medium. With that said, I have had smudging happen a few times with other mediums and noticed it seemed to happen more when my medium and/or paint layers were quite thick. You are wise to figure you can fix it when doing the background or another layer. My most used trick is when I’m done with the journal page, I will often lightly spatter the page with some of the paint used, using a toothbrush and some of the paint left on my palette. It covers up a multitude of discrepancies.

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