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Free-Hand Shapes with Distress Markers

Distress Marker Blocks

Hi All!

A little something different today. With some quick measurements, you can easily formulate a set of blocks to accommodate any sentiment. I chose Happy from one set and Birthday from another to mix it up. All you need to do is draw blocks and apply water. You’ll get a nice water-lined edge. Here is a close-up:

Distress Marker Blocks

I went back to using my old-time favorite Strathmore 90lb watercolor paper, but I seriously wish it was completely white like the one I’ve been using a lot lately, Canson XL. I really want a thick, bright white watercolor paper. I’ve gotten several suggestions, but most of them are not actually white. It may appear white by itself, but when you compare it to actual white, it’s not. Maybe I’m being overly picky here, but surely this exists! If anyone knows of one, please let me know so I can check it out. By the way, I know the Ranger watercolor paper is bright white. However, it shreds easily when you brush it. So, I use it only for lightly watered projects.

Anyway, enough complaining. Life is short. Enjoy the video!



To purchase at Ellen Hutson, click the EH link. To purchase at Simon Says Stamp, click the SSS link.
Distress marker colors used: Seedless Preserves, Peacock Feathers, Twisted Citron, and Shaded Lilac.

Happy and Smile
Happy and Smile
Baby Party Animals
Baby Party Animals
Tim Holtz Bricked Embossing Folder
Distress Markers
Ranger Black Archival Ink
Ranger Black Archival Ink
Gansai Tambi Black
Gansai Tambi Black
Strathmore Watercolor Paper
Watercolor Paper
Hero Arts Black Notecards
Hero Arts Black Notecards
ATG Tape Runner
ATG Tape Runner


  1. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 6:57 am


    We all need to have a few easy cards to make that take few supplies that is still effective. This definitely card works!

  2. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 7:01 am


    Oops! This card definitely works! ?

  3. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 1:14 pm


    WOW!! I’m always in awe at your steady hand when drawing lines Darlene and this card is one fabulous example of that. Love the colors, specially the Twisted Citron next to the Faded Lilac.
    Beautiful card, thank you for sharing.

  4. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 1:38 pm


    Might give this one a try. I like cards that use minimal supplies. A white watercolor paper that I have used is Spectrum Aqua. I don’t remember if it pilled. I used these with Spectrum Aqua markers, but have used other ones also. Maybe I will pull a little bit out and give this card a try.

  5. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Sandy Joe

    love it

  6. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Sandy Joe

    your black splatters are so perfect

  7. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 4:21 pm


    Great card, Darlene! I must admit, I had the same reaction as when I first saw you doing the zentangle work a while back. When you started drawing the first box with your marker–with no real guidelines other than a few pencil ticks–I gasped! I almost held my breath, willing the lines to be straight. LOL I’m all about the rulers & perfection & straight lines. Someday I may get up the courage to try something like this. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your artwork! ~ Andrea

  8. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 4:32 pm


    Love this card…. so simple yet effective!

  9. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Sherry W.

    What a great idea. Simple to do but striking. Thanks!

  10. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 5:08 pm


    Anxious to try this. Looks like fun …

  11. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 5:39 pm


    I love the colors and how nicely they fit together. The card looks great – I just hope I can recreate it because I’m not good with measuring. Watching you move those colors around is magical!

  12. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Carol Mac

    Wow…Darlene, when I first saw your photo in my email box of this card, I thought you used acrylic blocks, distress inks and water…but your technique with markers surprised me! I don’t have any distress markers, but may try a couple now. Love the card, you make it look easy! ?

    • wrote on June 11th, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Carol. Actually, that’s exactly what I did the first time I tried to create these blocks – inks on an acrylic block spritzed with water. But, it was messy and uneven, so I switched to the markers.

      • wrote on June 11th, 2016 at 11:38 am

        Carol Mac

        wow…good idea eh? I will have to try that.?

  13. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Cynthia Berquist

    You are so talented and always make your techniques look so easy! Can’t wait to give this a try! Terrific color choice!

  14. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 6:50 pm


    I absolutely love this card. Great!

  15. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 9:05 pm


    I did enjoy that thanks

  16. wrote on June 8th, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Barb H.

    I really like this card and the technique. Love your choice of colors too!

  17. wrote on June 9th, 2016 at 1:09 am


    Love it! I especially love the color choices (which is something I always struggle with!).

    I can see what you mean about the paper color though. I usually use Fabriano Artistico paper in Bright White if I want a “whiter” paper. Fabriano is really a lovely 100% cotton watercolor paper. Since all of my craft supplies are on a boat traveling across the Atlantic, I cannot compare for you against a Neenah Solar White but remember it being whiter than any other watercolor paper I have used. The description at Dickblicks.com states that it is the “purest bright white available without the use of optical brighteners or bleaches.” At any rate, it is my favorite “white” watercolor paper and colors blend beautifully on it.

    • wrote on June 11th, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Darlene DeVries

      Thanks for the tip Heather. I wrote it down to check out.

  18. wrote on June 9th, 2016 at 7:55 am


    I love the simplicity of this colorful card. But I would have to work at free hand drawing. You do it so well.

  19. wrote on June 9th, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Brenda L.

    I so love the simplicity of this card Darlene! The colors are just beautiful and I love how it looks like the blocks are stacked. Very pretty card indeed! Hugs, Brenda

  20. wrote on June 9th, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Susan Berry

    Love this card and the colors you used.

  21. wrote on June 30th, 2016 at 10:56 am


    Darlene, I really like what you did with this card! I love that you drew those boxes.
    Makes for a different card! The colors are great together as well!

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