Watercolor on Yupo Workshop initial run

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:


“Rose Trio” 2012 watercolor on yupo Sharon Giles

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:


“Black-Eyed Blazes” 2012 watercolor on yupo Sharon Giles


“Cotton Candy Trees” 2012 watercolor on yupo Sharon Giles

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!

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