Tutorial how to fix a Bible journaling page you HATE

Two years ago, I painted a page that I loved... until I added lettering at the bottom! 

The block letters looked terrible so I thought I'd doodle on them with my new shiny Glaze pens... even worse!!! The colors turned out muddy over the watercolor and the doodles were just too busy on the page.

And so it sat for two years. Then last week I was flipping through my Bible and saw that page and I got an idea on how to fix it. So here is what I did and how you can transform pages that you aren't happy with too!

** I will add affiliate supply links at the bottom of this post if you are interested in purchasing any of the products I use.

The original page was painted with watercolor and watercolor pencils. The pen details on the lettering were glossy so I assumed my craft acrylic paint might just slide right off and I'd end up with an even bigger mess. Fortunately I have a few bottles of gesso. Gesso is a page primer that adds a bit of "tooth" to smooth pages so that different mediums can stick to it better. It also provides a barrier from one layer to another (but note that it will re-activate water-soluable mediums). Anyhow...

I grabbed a bottle of Liquitex Clear Gesso and with a flat paint brush, applied it over the entire green grass area. I opted to use clear gesso instead of white because I didn't want to botch things up again and splatter white all over my page. Since I painted it on fairly thick over the letters, I let the gesso dry overnight.

Step 2
Now to repaint the grass. I didn't think watercolor would adhere and dry over the gesso so I looked through my acrylic paints for greens that would blend in. I had one a bit darker and one a bit lighter so I decided to just repaint the entire grass section. 

I started with the darkest and painted an even coat on the entire section. Then I mixed a little white with the dark and added actual "blades" of grass. Then I added more blades with the lighter color as well as the lighter color and darker color swirled together. I allowed this to dry overnight as well.

The colors I used were: Folk Art 2552 Citrus Green, Martha Stewart 32007 Granny Smith, and Martha Stewart 32076 Wedding Cake.

The next day there was a tiny area that had a bit of shadow from the black pen of the lettering so I just added a few more blades of grass. 

At this point, I was very happy with how it turned out and didn't want to ruin it again with lettering. The surface of the acrylic paint (because of the brush strokes of the grass) is not smooth, so lettering would be difficult. But if using this method, you could easily add acrylic paint flowers or other details or paint the base layers with smooth strokes to then add pen on top. 

The great thing about the gesso is that it also forms a barrier to prevent whatever is on top from bleeding through to the back. I haven't tried to watercolor on the back of the gessoed page though. I assume the watercolor would float on top of the page and have a hard time absorbing and cause excessive wrinkling (like pages that I've done that have washi tape on one side and then I tried to watercolor on the back side).

back of page

love each other!

I hope this brief tutorial was helpful if you have any pages that need rescuing!

so much better!

Supply List:
The following items are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using these links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. (Also, these are items that I use and love and therefore recommend.)

Bible - I use the double column version, but here is the ESV single column version.

Watercolor Pencils - either of these sets are fantastic

Pens - for black I use Pitt pens, for white I love the Signo Uni-ball UM-153

Gesso - Liquitex clear - currently the Amazon price is over $20 USD. I would recommend using a 40% off coupon at a local craft store like Michaels, Joanns, or Hobby Lobby. I believe I got mine at Michaels.

Paint - I use cheap craft acrylic paint. The best deals are probably at your local craft store or even Walmart.

I hope you enjoyed this!

Keep painting,
:) Ann 


  1. How smart to use clear gesso! Is there a gloss to the clear gesso? I adore your artwork!!

    1. Great question! There isn't a gloss or shine; however, it does leave a sandpaper-like texture so you'll want to paint or collage over it. Thank you for the sweet compliment.