I came across the word, Grisaille, while reading Laurel Bern’s blog. If interested, you may see more of her blog post, the ‘Exquisite, Enigmatic Art of Grisaille. She starts by posing the question “What is GRISAILLE, you ask? And, no, it’s not a cut of beef or a type of bear.” Quote and pronunciation courtesy of Laurel Bern.


The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition is: decoration in tones of a single color and especially gray designed to produce a three-dimensional effect.
The Wikipedia definition is: …French: gris [ɡʁizaj] ‘grey’) is a term for a painting executed entirely in shades of grey or of another neutral greyish colour… A grisaille may be executed for its own sake, [or] as underpainting … working in grisaille was often chosen as being quicker and cheaper, although the effect was sometimes deliberately chosen for aesthetic reasons…


OK, now that we know this new word, how do we apply it to card-making. I am no artist. I came across this word while reading an interior designer’s blog. You can check out her article on the ‘Exquisite, Enigmatic Art of Grisaille’ HERE. So it made me think. Can I be inspired by any of the many wonderful Stampin’ Up! stamp sets? 

First, I looked up some examples of grisaille.


Several stamp sets are perfect for this technique: Waterfront, Snow Front, Peaceful Place, Heartland, Rustic Retreat, Garden Shed, Slice of Happiness, Beauty & Joy, …and the list goes on.

I chose Free As A Bird for my first attempt. I selected Basic Gray, Smoky Slate, Gray Granite, Sahara Sand and Pear Pizzazz ink as my color palette. Here is my card.

MEASUREMENTS (Supplies and Links are at the end)

  • Gray Granite Cardstock: 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ scored at 4-1/4″
  • Sahara Sand Cardstock: 3-3/4″ x 11″ 
  • Watercolor paper: 1-3/4″ x 5″ stamp and die-cut image, plus extra for sentiment

PROCESS (use any die-cutting and embossing machine)


  1. Put a couple of drops of Whisper White reinker on an acrylic block and thin with a little water. 
  2. Pick up some of the white ‘paint’ with an aqua painter and flick drops of ink on the Sahara Sand cardstock.
    TIP: I find that the best way to ‘flick’ paint is to tap the barrel of the Aqua Painter on the fingers of my opposite hand in a chopping motion.
  3. Let dry then cut a 3-3/4″ x 5″ panel. 
  4. Tear about 3 or 4 pieces to put behind the focal point.


  1. Stamp the image onto the watercolor paper with Basic Gray ink.
  2. Put a couple of drops of each ink onto an acrylic block or other non-porous surface.
  3. Using an Aqua Painter, wet the are you are ready to paint, then add color. I found it best to drag some color away from the ink spot and gradually add water until the color was diluted. Always test on a scrap of watercolor paper.
  4. Paint image gradually adding color from light to dark. Let dry and continue adding color to define the shadows. 
  5. Put a very very light wash of color around the image. 
  6. After the image is dry, die-cut with Stitched Nested Labels dies


  1. Stamp sentiment and die-cut.
  2. Arrange some torn chunks of cardstock behind the image.
  3. Arrange and adhere layers with Dimensionals as it pleases you.

I had fun with the grisaille technique. I will definitely be pulling out the Waterfront and Snow Front stamp sets to give it a try. I don’t want you to miss out on the Snow Front stamp set. It is only available until January 2nd.  I think I might try painting (using markers or Aqua Painter) directly onto the stamp, misting, then stamping on watercolor paper. Staying in the neutral muted tones should give it a grisaille look. I’ll get back to you on that one.


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