Last Saturday (Sept. 22) I gave a mini-workshop on painting in watercolor on yupo for a small group of crafters called Articrafters, which meets at the Eclectic Expressions Gallery in Arlington. The year before I gave a workshop for them on Suminagashi, the Japanese art of marbling paper with inks on water. That became a springboard for me to give art demos and mini-workshops on Suminagashi all over the Metroplex, so I am hoping to translate this latest experiment into the same opportunities.
Yupo is a plastic paper used commercially for printing signage and labels on products. Artists have now adopted it, and it’s both a joy and a challenge to paint on. It’s fantastic for texturing in creative ways, but difficult to paint layers since watercolor lifts easily. Here’s an explanation I compiled:
Yupo: made of polypropylene, smooth, brilliant white, ph-neutral, non-buckling, non-absorbent, no need to stretch, durable, 100% recyclable (#5), with superior ink adhesion for printing. Comes in three weights for artists: heavy (144 lb.), medium (74 lb.) and light (68 lb.). Available in white sheets (20×26, 26×40, 23×25-light only), rolls and pads. A translucent 23×25 sheet is also available in 3 weights. Suppliers: local: Asel’s Art Supply; online: Dick Blick, Jerry’s Artarama; Daniel Smith; Cheap Joe’s; Amazon; etc. Made by Yupo America (http://www.yupousa.com ). Best videos are those by George James (http://www.georgejameswatercolor.com/) – I took a SWS workshop from George and he’s developed the most creative techniques. Click here for a handout on Yupo: Tips on Yupo Painting
I prepped for the workshop by doing some small paintings and devising some simple exercises. At least I thought they were simple, but the first (“Wipe-Out Roses”) turned out to be more difficult to follow than I thought. It involved both positive and negative painting — painting a medium value layer of watercolor for the background and using spritzing, rollering and facial tissue for texture. Then lifting out light leaf and floral shapes with a brush while still wet. Next I painted directly rose shapes and leaves in brighter and darker color. Then I lifted out petal lines in the roses. Here’s one of the demo paintings:
The second exercise (“Negative Shape Painting”) involved applying three or four colors of watercolor paint in your choice of ways, then texturing it. Then creating a positive shape by painting or subtracting a background (Yupo allows you to lift back to almost white.) Here are a couple of samples that I did to illustrate it:
A couple of artists actually had time to try the third exercise “Abstract Stamping & Texturing.” For this, I divided the paper into a nine-square grid and applied different types of texturing to make a pleasing composition. I gave them a choice of nineteen methods to try!