n*Lab Tales – Today featuring Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paints



Some of you know this sign already – n*Lab Tales are just a little summary of my experiments with a certain products that are either new or new to me. When I get something new I need to take it apart and examine it in all kind of different ways in order to be able to make it my own and add it to my stash.  Sometimes I take it even further and integrate the product into my workshops. n*Lab tales are not tutorials -just basic narratives of what I found out, how I used it and what I liked/disliked. It is little peek into my n*Studio life.


I got the new Ranger Dylusions’ Colors -six there is- and there is not secret I really love these Ink Sprays – and there was no surprise I loved the new ones too. The new White Linen btw- is awesome – I will show a little spot where I used it.

What was totally new was the new Distress Paints by Ranger and I was told they are unlike any other paint product out there. AHA…mmmhhh – really? LOL- sorry Ranger, I love your products- but I am like that- I need to know for sure plus everything paint makes me excited to try. So let me first give you the known gist of the Distress Paints – 24 colors,  fluid water-based acrylic paints, reactive with water and coming with a dabber.

I will admit – that the description at first did not knock me out of my shoes- because I know fluid acrylic paints, acrylic paints are water-based and react with water – so what is the big deal besides that the colors are appealing if you are already familiar with and you love the other Distress Products from Ranger, which I do.


So…with a bit of a MEH-approach (I am honest) I started experimenting with those paints. I actually almost thought they would be more a Gouache like paint- until I realized “nope- they are permanent, once dried”. So what I started doing was just playing with them in my art journal. Seeing how they are with different brushes, how I can control them , how they react when I mix them dry and wet with a brush.



This is when I started to like the paint already quite a bit. I liked how you can work them and that they are actually VERY controllable although so fluid. I also like the very long opening time of the colors on the palette/ranger mat. I like that the mixing and blending is nice in a wet on wet technique- while it is very opaque on a wet on dry technique. I also love the matte still very vibrant appearance the matte finish by the way perfect for art journals as they help with the “sticking” problem. I also like this chalky like effect.


Next I played and experimented a bit with the reaction to other water-based products while wet. I liked the marbling effect. Here you see the Broken China Distress Paint mixed with some Dirty Martini Dylusions Ink Spray. It takes  a bit practicing on when to mix those for the best and still vibrant result, as you want to avoid the matte Distress Paint mixing too much into the nice vibrant Dylusions Ink Spray…so that it is not just a matte finish in the end- but it is doable and fun. Love it.


I started playing with different paper surfaces. On the top you see ripped and very rough paper and on the bottom very smooth paper from Dyan’s Dylusions’ Journal. What I found was that the rougher the surface -like the torn paper- the faster the paint dries. It was almost impossible without wetting with water to work the paint on rough paper, while it was without water super easy and nice (even with your hands a fun thing) on smooth paper. Well once you know that – all is good and you can work with that knowledge – plus you can use it for more visible texture as the rough paper parts getting darker of course :)



here you see the whole page- the background was just playing and trying things- I used a lot of the Dylusions Ink Sprays with the background too to see the results with the dried Distress Paints, and then as you can see the white that is the new Dylusions White Linen – love it. I also used Dyans new Couture stamps- I had fun- as you can tell ;) I worked a bit more with Wendy Vecchi’s new Golden Embossing Paste – yum. I also tried a bit stenciling with the Distress Paint Dabber but the paint is definitely too fluid for crisp results with stencils, so you would still need a cosmetic sponge or similar to apply the paint in a thinner matter – or maybe I need to practice more ;).



And then came the part that made me like super exciting. Stamping! Indeed a very nice paint to be able to stamp with ruber stamps- and super easy to apply because the dabber and you can also add different colors- and you can then stamp directly on Transparencies (remember that one Creative Jumpstart video I did? ;) ) – LOOOOVEEEE. But wait there is more….



This made my heart pitter patter – The resist results with the paints. I used here Picket Fence and Weathered Wood Distress Paints and stamped with my favorite Stampers Anonymous Stamp. Then I sprayed with Black Marble and Squeezed Orange Dylusions Ink Sprays and also applied some Distress Inks – I think – Spiced Marmelade and Fired Brick over it. I loooooveee how this came out. That was one of my highlights, as yes – you can do resists with all acrylic paints- but this so far- had the best result for me.

So before I show you another art journal page- my favorite features of the Ranger Distress Paints:

  • Resist Results 
  • Matte but yet vibrant finish – perfect for art journals
  • Capability of applying to plastic and metal
  • Dabber cap – in the hope it won’t dry out
  • Possibility to use it with my rubber stamps
  • Color Range – love the colors and wonderful to mix with other Ranger Paint Products
  • Texture when dried – more visible texture than tactile
  • Opacity when applied over dried areas



supplies by Ranger: 
Distress Paints
Distress Inks
Distress Stains
Dylusions Ink Sprays
Dylusions Stencils
Inkssentials Glue Stick
Inkssentials Mini Mister
Pearls, Stampers Anonymous Stamps, Derwent Sketching Pencils


I will definitely use those in my stash and I see them also in future classes as I have some more ideas to use them with techniques already  ;)

Have a gorgeous day


Related Links:

n*Lab Tales- Derwent Artbars

n*Lab Tales – Letraset Promarkers with Letraset Airbrush System

n*Lab Tales- Ice Resin

Comments (22)

  • Michaela "Micki" Harper


    Hi Nat,
    Ok, so just to make sure I read right (I’ve got the flu and been in bed – still in bed) once these paints dry I can add other media on top and the paints will not reactivate or smear like the Distress Inks or the Spray Inks, right? Ohhhhh for mixed media that’ll be awesome…. :-). Loved your experiements.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Hi Micki,
      yep- it is permanent once dried :)


  • Lisa Flaherty


    Great review! I assumed that the Distress Paints were unique only in their color line. I LOVE the painted still lifes you’ve done, the one near the top of this post with the collage of book text, and the other blue and green one of your art supplies posted to Instagram.


  • Sue Clarke


    These are on my “to get” list and now I will try several colors since I liked the results you got in your art journal. I am TOTALLY in love with the Dylusions ink sprays already!


  • rains


    I’ve been so curious about these paints, even after watching TIm Holtz play with them on a video. Thank you so much for this thorough report! Just what I’d been craving. I will definitely get some, and will watch your other “Lab tales”.


  • Rob


    Thanks Nat for your report, I was pretty reticent to try them because I still have the last range of Paint Dabbers with dried up tops. But now I’m tempted after reading your report.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Rob- I hope they won’t dry – that of course I cannot say yet. I know though what you mean …


  • Milagros


    Gracias por compartir tus experimentos, preciosos resultados.


  • mjmarmo


    Wow – amazing results!


  • Kathy P


    Thanks, Nat, for that very throrough and honest evaluation of these new fun paints. Sounds like I need some in my stash! And will be looking for that class…..!


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