Powertex Bister art

If you’ve been following my series of articles on using Powertex Bister in mixed media art, you might be ready to try a project. This Powertex Bister planets painting was created for the Powertex UK design team and was originally published in the Powertex UK magazine. It’s a fun example of how Bister sprays can be used to create interesting effects on a canvas.

How to paint a Powertex Bister galaxy art

This Powertex galaxy canvas is a fun project to try. Use Bister sprays and stencils to create your own style of art or canvas. Bister is an ink pigment available from Powertex in 7 colours. If Bister sprays are new to you, you may want to read this article first. It’s got the tips you’ll need for getting the most out of your Bister sprays. You can also download my free Quick Guide to Bister.

Powertex planets with Bister, Art by Kore Sage

Materials list

Powertex and Bister sprays

  • A canvas (mine was A4 size)
  • Blue and Ivory Powertex Fabric Hardener
  • Ready Made Bister sprays in Black, Red, Yellow and Green
  • Cardboard or heavy paper to cut your own circular masks
  • Hairdryer (a heat tool on low works too)

Create a galaxy painting with Powertex and Bister crackle

Prepare your canvas and card circles

Prepare the canvas with Powertex

Paint your canvas with Blue Powertex Fabric Hardener. If the Powertex seems too sticky, use a little water. While it’s drying, cut your circle masks. Draw around plates or lids and carefully cut them out. You’ll need to keep both parts of the card for later.

Spray the background

Spray with Black Bister

Arrange your circular masks where you want your planets to be. Darken the background with Black Bister Spray. Vary the amount around the canvas. Leave this to dry naturally. Do not force dry this layer.

Paint the planets

Use Stencils to apply circles of Ivory Powertex

When dry, swap the mask for the stencil on a planet and paint the circle with a layer of Ivory Powertex, not too thin. You need the Powertex to stay wet for the next step. Do one planet at a time. If you’re not sure about these steps you can always practice on a piece of card first.

Spray with Bister

Spray with Bister

While the Powertex is still wet, leave the stencil in place and mask off the painting around this with scrap paper or card. Spray the Powertex circle generously with Bister in your chosen colour. See how the Powertex layer is uneven underneath the Bister. This is good!

Create the Bister crackles

Powertex Bister crackles

To create your Powertex Bister crackle planets, heat the Bister with a hairdryer until cracks start to form in the surface. Note that a heatgun or tool is usually much hotter than a hairdryer and will dry the surface too fast. If you have a heatgun, use on a low setting and be gentle.

Repeat these steps for all your planets. The planets you’ve painted will stay wet for sometime. Don’t be tempted to heat them again. Avoid laying your stencils on top of the wet planets, they will stick. Instead hold paper upright to protect your canvas while you spray.

When you’ve painted all your planets, leave it to dry naturally. This may take a couple of hours if your Powertex layers are thick.

Powertex stars

Finishing touches

To add the stars I used a splatter of Ivory Powertex. Put half a teaspoon of Ivory on a plate and a little water. Use a very wet paintbrush to splatter it across the surface for stars. I also had a practice on paper first with a flat brush!

Powertex planets with Bister, Art by Kore Sage

One of my planets had smeared a lot when I removed the stencil. I tidied it up with a small paintbrush and bit of Blue Powertex and Black Bister when it was dry. The blue Powertex background coming through the Black Bister looks even better than I expected!

Top tips for Powertex Bister planets

Each planet will take a while to dry so be careful when masking the rest of your canvas. I used a piece of printer paper held near my planets while I sprayed them.

To add dimension, use more than one colour of Bister on a planet to give it a darker side.

Try Easy Structure paste or 3d balls to add texture before you use the Ivory Powertex.

It’s worth pointing out again that Bister is not permanent. If I get this wet, the Bister will react and may run or drip. To preserve the finish, I can spray this with a varnish. I use a Winsor and Newton brand that’s easy to find where I am but you can use any brand.

I also have an article on using Powertex Bister granules which gives different techniques and effects. If you’d like to try Bister for the first time, take a look at my Quick Guide to Bister. It’s a free digital download with the basics all in one place.

I am a certified Powertex tutor and get my supplies from Powertex UK.