Be Your Own Fish Book Marks

zinnia for artfulgathering eventsBe Your Own Fish, an inspirational video on creating your own fish themed book markers for your art journals or reading novels. Presented by Cristina Zinnia Galliher, creator of Artful Gathering Online Art Retreats.


butterfly divder

fish2You are welcome to create your fish inspired by my methods and process, or you can use any medium you enjoy working in.

Here is how I made mine:

Take your fish template and trace around it on a sheet of 140 lb. watercolor paper.

Five fish is a fun number to work with, so all you do is trace out the number of fish you want to make.

After you trace out your fish on your 140 lb. watercolor paper, carefully cut each one out.

Lay out all your fish. It’s time to create a pattern on them. I used a mechanical pencil and a kneaded eraser to sketch out my basic fish patterns. Try to make each fish different, but keep your lines simple.

When you have sketched out a pattern on each fish, you are ready to paint!

I worked over a clean layer of wax paper and used the side of the wax paper as my paint palette. I also had paper towels close by so I could dry my brush as I worked.


If you are using gouache for the first time, you may enjoy the simple exercise of using only a few colors for this project. This will make this project flow very quickly as you work over all five of your fish in one sitting. You will also get a feel for what you can do with this paint.

I choose two colors for the body of my fish and one color for the cheeks.

Turner Gouache Paints from

White Gesso (basecoat, and for blending my gouache colors)
Blue Compose (body)
J. Yellow Green (body)
J. Red Purple (cheeks)
Paper Towels
Paint Brushes (flat and round, nylon)

I started out with a base coat of gesso paint, but I left my brush stroke marks in the paint. I like texture it provides.

Once each fish has a generous base coat, I just start painting with my gouache paint. I like using a medium consistency but try it out and see how much you can do with it. It can be used like a watercolor and it can be used like an acrylic paint, but if you like the look of dry brushing, you will LOVE the way this paint combines with gesso as a blending color.

You can hop from fish to fish, or you can do one fish at a time. See what works for you!

Once you complete your fish you can let them dry completely and then go on to do the back. I used matte gel medium and collaged antique book pages to the back of my fish.

A heat gun is handy to speed up the drying time.

I love the way fish glisten in the sunlight. I used Turner Gouache, Lame Green Emerald to give my fish a nice shiny and sleek finish.

I also used Golden Iridescent Fine Gold paint to add accents of scales around the eye, head and tail. fish3

Applying Quotes:

If you like to journal, you can write anything you like on your fish; a message, a quote, a story.

My secret to getting my pens to write evenly over my paint is to spray some matte sealer over the surface. Let it dry and then use a white Sharpie pen or White Gelly pen to write your message. If you wish for your letters to be bolder, you can also use black.

Once everything is dry, give it one more spray seal and then get your fish ready to go on a field trip to the local printer. For just a few dollars I was able to fit my fish on a total of two laminating sheets. Because my fish are a little on thick side, I ran my laminating pages through the machine three times.

Viola! My fish creations were sealed!

There is a little seam between the outside edge of the fish and the laminate. I carefully cut my fish out just outside the air bubble line. If you cut into the air bubble line, the laminate seal may break. Be sure to leave a nice wide berth when you cut.


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