Spray painting your way to freedom

April 21, 2020

‘Colourful Plus White’ by Ruby (Spray Paint)

Ruby Ardizzone explores the benefits of creating images, using everyday materials you might find lying around your room

I have always enjoyed expressing my ideas, thoughts and feelings visually. Since I was little, I used to draw with my dad and brother.

Even when I don’t know how I am feeling, making an image can sometimes give me an insight to what’s going on in my mind.

It has been an exciting time exploring various creative approaches this year, on my Fine Art Foundation course at Central Saint Martins Art and Design college. I am gutted that it has been brought so abruptly to an end, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

I miss the spontaneity that comes with real-life interactions, and connections with other students.

During the last two terms, I have found it invaluable sharing my thoughts and ideas with other students and tutors, and to listen, learn and contribute to my friends’ creative pursuits.

When London first went into lockdown, and I couldn’t go into the studios at uni anymore, I struggled to come up with new ideas. I think this was heightened by not being able to access the specialist equipment I was used to.

This led me to look in a new direction. I’m now using scraps of fabric, and crumpled bits of paper from my dustbin, and lying around in the back of my cupboard, to work with. It turns out that these fragments, combined with paint, have helped create some beautiful effects.

‘Detail’ by Ruby (Spray Paint)

With my latest art project, I wanted to experiment with paint, spraying through stencils, diffusing colour along the folds, pleats and creases of the paper.

I chose to work with spray paints, because when you direct the spray at different angles on to textured surfaces, it creates its own light and shadow effects.

To prepare my textured surface, I folded up my paper in random directions, the crazier the folds the better. Then I opened up the paper, flattening it out slightly on the floor.

Your spray paint will need a really good shake. Hold the can sideways and down low, about 10cm away from your surface. Aim to hit the ridges on the paper, but only some of them, pronouncing the surface’s highlights and textures.

Also, be sure to lay down plenty of newspaper when spraying. It’s best if you can do it outside or in a well-ventilated space. Open the window as wide as possible, if like me, you’re in your bedroom.

My Blue Lace image, where I used a piece of loosely folded lace as a stencil to spray through, is my favourite. It reminds me of things past and present, of simpler calmer times.

‘Blue Lace’ by Ruby (Spray Paint)

My friend said he could see soft images of white ghostly faces against the blue, a bit like faces you can sometimes see in the clouds.

I experimented with colour, shade and tone, and noticed what a different atmosphere these elements created. I worked with opposite and complementary colours. My Colourful Plus White piece worked well, and evokes a magical mountainous landscape, a symbol of the freedom I’m missing.

Another interesting thing to try is to scrunch paper into a ball, and completely coat it in paint. When dry, you can open up the paper and see what interesting patterns you are left with.

I have also taken inspiration for my project from Tauba Auerbach’s beautiful fold paintings.

I would encourage everyone to find some time and space, especially in these challenging times, to do something creative. My advice to anyone who wants to try spray painting, is to play around as much as you want, because you have the time to!

Don’t be too concerned about making the perfect finished piece. Just experiment with different materials and have fun with it. There’s no pressure, quite the opposite.

I have found a great freedom in working with this uncomplicated medium.


Ruby is 19 years old, and studying a Fine Art Foundation at Central Saint Martins, London. She enjoys listening to music which inspires her art work. 

Ruby is 19 years old and studying Fine Art at Leeds Arts University. She enjoys using collage and painting as media to express herself. She loves listening to music which inspires her artwork. 

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