Thursday, January 14, 2016

Watercolor Adventure with Yupo Paper

While planning my next few paintings, I've had an urge to try something new.  On my shelves, you'll find several really thick art supply catalogs.  Do you remember paging through the JC Penny catalogs in days gone by?  That's the best way I can relate to how I dreamily wander through the pages of the art supply catalogs.  It's my great escape to discover new products and tools, wondering how they can be used to create more art.  I have seen the Yupo sheets before but had never tried painting on this surface before...until recently.  Maybe I just needed a little break and a chance to be more carefree with paint and brushes.  My artistic style at time has been very tight and leaning toward realism a bit.  I get a little nervous at the thought of trying to loosen up and work in a bolder way.

There are artists I really enjoy following a few work on Yupo.  Seeing their work gave me a longing to discover more for myself.  The beautiful effects achieved are just so appealing!  It seemed to me that it could possibly be quite a relaxing experience.

I've been an admirer of Yevgenia Watts an her artwork for a while now.  To see her lovely work, visit  She does lovely work both on traditional watercolor paper and Yupo synthetic paper.  I knew what Yupo was but seeing Yevgenia's work hooked me...I've just got to try painting on that!   I'll link to one of her videos here.

When starting a new medium or other new art product, I like to do my homework!  It's more fun to know many of the techniques possible.  It's better to avoid bad habits rather than unlearn them later.  So many artists are willing to share their knowledge, why not go learn from it?!

Mark Mehaffey's videos on Artists Network TV are a great starting point.  If you do not subscribe to this, there are plenty of great videos on You Tube.  I'll link to a short clip here.  I watched several videos and read quite a few articles before I began my playtime with the Yupo and watercolors.

A few things I've learned about Yupo:

1.  Yupo is made from polypropylene.  It's not a paper at all.  
2.  It's an alternative surface for painting and ink.  
3.  It does not absorb color at all.  Watercolor paint can be lifted off to bring back whites.
4.  Prep the surface using a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol.  This removes oils left by fingerprints.
5.  Draw with water-soluble pencils.  Do not erase.  Eraser marks act as a resist.
6.  Paint once to add color; paint twice and it will lift color.
7.  More watery color mixes will take longer to dry.
8.  When complete, the painting needs to be sealed with a Krylon matte sealer.

I'm sure there's more but these are the basics for getting started.

It was a whole new experience to squeeze paint directly from the tube onto the painting surface.  The paint and water have a movement all their own.  How relaxing to push the paint and see how it would react in unpredictable ways.

With a barely damp clean brush, I pulled through the paint on the surface.  This lifted paint back to a striking white surface.  With cardboard and bubble wrap placed on the surface, after time, unusual textures were achieved.  Rubber stamps, placed on the surface would lift instead of stamping an image.  With a brush, I painted color onto the rubber stamps and transferred those images on mostly dry areas.

Spritzing water into the paint recharges it to blend and move again, leaving hard edges.  Dropping water into dry and wet areas give wonderful effects as well.  Added details of black made a great finishing touch with an ink pen and India ink.

I have not sealed this piece was done as a learning experiment.  I could still go back in and change it another day.  All those rectangular spaces would be great for journal-ling or scripture.

I look forward to incorporating this new surface in my painting process.  I'm formulating in my mind how to begin with my reference photos.  I'm working toward painting from reference photos of poppies and cherry blossoms.  It's hard to decide which subject matter will come first.  There are several small sketches of poppies done now.  In the past, I've known I should be doing thumbnail sketches for composition and value study.  I understood sketches are helpful tools but always dreaded it like having a tooth pulled!  It's not so bad.  It doesn't take long.  The sketch requires fast, loose strokes of the pencil or pen.


What's Next On The List?

I've got the palette out so it's time to begin mixing some color!  The poppies are my next venture.  I've got many beautiful photos, thanks to my neighbor, Lynn.  She has the most amazing yard filled with several gardens.  Winter and all its cold and white is here, but I've got vibrant flowers to inspire for the next several paintings.  Many value studies/thumbnail sketches are done.  Three sketches are nearly ready to go.  The sketches now need to be transferred to watercolor paper.

This was such a fun detour from my usual art projects.  I would recommend Yupo for an easy and relaxing afternoon.  Have fun and lose yourself in a creative way!  If you don't like it and would like to start again, that's easy!  Just take it to the sink and rinse it all away.  Wipe it clean and begin again.

A tablet of Yupo (20 sheets) 9" x 12" averages between $12.00 and $15.00.  The tablet shown here, I purchased the 11" x 14" tablet (20 sheets) for about $18.00.  The great thing is, it's reusable!  Don't care for it?  Start again!

Do you think you'd like to give it a try?  Take whatever supplies you've got and go for it!  Oil pastels, watercolor pencils, ink, permanent marker, watercolor paints, acrylic paints, rubber stamps and stamp pads...use any or all of it.  If you give this a try, be sure to comment how it went for you!

Do you have any Yupo tips to share?  Please tell us about it!  Give us something new to learn today!

because she must make art.


  1. loved this and I love yupo too. Found you on Pinterest

    1. Hey! So glad you enjoyed the post about Yupo! Thanks for stopping by SheMustMakeArt this week.