Thursday, February 14, 2019

Exploring New Mediums with Watercolors

Exploring New Mediums with Watercolor Blog Graphic Christy Sheeler Artist I have new mediums in my stash.

It's like Christmas morning.  New art supply order arrives and I am a child again.  Excitedly, I search through the package for mediums for my art supply stash.  I am in love with exploring new methods and techniques.  My mind gets lost in thinking about new watercolor possibilities for future artworks.  Sometimes, I need to shake up my artist techniques a little bit.  Can you relate?  I have three new mediums to share today.  I have been testing out how they can work with my watercolor painting process.  Here's the scoop on what I've grasped so far!

I had a specific reason for trying out these mediums:

Watercolor paper can lose its sizing.  

I have experienced watercolor paper that is no longer its original best which is frustrating.  I learned to buy only the paper I need for several months.  Great changes in temperature and humidity can affect the sizing.  My art room wasn't always heated and so the range of temperatures was hard on my paper.  You might still be asking, "what is sizing?"  Watercolor papers are treated with a substance like gelatin that makes the surface less absorbent.  The watercolor pigment and water can float on the surface.  When a paper loses its sizing, the color and pigment sink down quickly and cannot be lifted out.  Many times, a strange speckled texture appears in the paper surface.

I want to add that the papers I have had issues with sizing-wise were high quality 140 lb. watercolor papers.  This is not about cheaper paper, though it can happen with any quality of watercolor paper.

If you would like to learn more about watercolor sizing:  Birgit O'Connor's blog explains this with more detail.  If you would like to see examples of what to watch out for:  Karen Sioson's blog describes these paper problems along with photos.

I have odds and ends of 140 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper in my paper stash.  I would like to be able to treat those papers so I can still paint on them.  My search began with wondering if these mediums would be an asset for this purpose.

I have been playing with these three mediums to understand them better.
For each medium, I first want to know...

Question:  Will this medium work to help with sizing problems?

Before you begin trying any of these:
1.  Set up a work area away from watercolor palette.  Don't let any of this mix on your palette.
2.  Use a water container that you'll rinse well afterwards.  You probably don't want any of this to migrate to your watercolor painting sessions.
3.  Rinse your brushes well and right away.

The Mediums I Explored with Watercolors:

QoR Lift Aid 118 ml. $8.74
Holbein Sizing Liquid Medium 60 ml.  $12.39
Daniel Smith WC Ground Titanium White 4 oz.  $8.19
(Prices at time of order from Cheap Joe's Art Stuff, 2018)

Lift Aid by QoR-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lift Aid by QoR bottle 118 ml

I am not sure why I thought this would be a possible solution.  I was all out determined to find some options.  The QoR lift aid peaked my curiosity.  Lifting back to white can be a challenge and I like the idea of having some extra assistance.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not going to be prepping all my watercolor paper before I begin paintings.  

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Watercolor Success on YUPO

Watercolor Success on Yupo blog post by Christy Sheeler Artist 2019. Are you up for a challenge?

Watercolor is an adventure all on its own but if you are up for more challenge, you might give Yupo a try.  I am here to give you some pointers that will improve your experience.  Though it may seem foreign and scary at first, after a few painting sessions, you might just fall in love with this unique surface.  Shake up your creative process and take a break from the usual watercolor techniques.  While you may wonder whether you will ever get the gist, be willing to explore the possibilities.  Do you remember sitting in a classroom as a child, looking wistfully out the window, waiting in eager expectation for time on the playground?  Time.  Time to do as you wished without the rigid instructions and limitations.

Sometimes, I need more play with watercolor.

Like me, perhaps you have a underlying wish to break out of a rut, be more fluid and less confined by the traditional methods.  I wanted to be more free to watch the watercolor pigment spread as water carried it across the surface...without the stress and guilt of "wasting" a sheet of watercolor paper.  Are you ready?  Let's get on with this adventure!

What is Yupo?

You might be asking me, "what exactly is Yupo?"  That's a good place to begin.  Yupo is a synthetic paper that is tree-free.  This surface is 100% recyclable, smooth, very durable, tear-resistant, waterproof.  It resists buckling that usually occurs with cotton watercolor papers.  It does not absorb the pigment.  There is no need to tape Yupo on a board.  Pigments remain vibrant and white of the surface is easily restored.  Most often, artists use alcohol inks on Yupo but other mediums can be used as well. There are two different weights of Yupo offered:  74 lb and 144 lb.  For the purpose of watercolor painting, 74 lb. is more than sufficient.  There's also a translucent Yupo but I have not explored watercolor options there yet.  Yupo's available where art supplies are offered.

Here, I show you two sizes of Yupo 5" x 7" and 11" x 14" with 10 sheets per pad.The smaller pad was $4.93 and the larger pad was $16.82.  They were purchased from Dick Blick.  The 20 sheet pad (74 lb.) of Yupo costs $16.99 on Cheap Joe's Art Stuff presently.

Yupo synthetic paper in various sizes.

Yupo synthetic paper in various sizes.

What I understand about Yupo so far...

 In a previous post (January 2016) , I shared my first experience with Yupo.  I will link the post titled Watercolor Adventure with Yupo here.  I had fun playing with Yupo and still do.  At that time, I needed more time painting on this new surface.  The hours spent gave me a better comfort level and results.  My favorite subjects are landscapes and flowers.  I wanted to challenge myself to be less detailed and tight with my technique.  At first, I felt like I would never have the knack for anything representative of these subjects.  I will admit it's a long stretch to find how to bring watercolor to Yupo in a way that connects with my style.  Each time that I returned to "play" on Yupo with my watercolors, I was more pleased.  The artwork is now something I enjoy looking at and displaying for others to see.

Watercolor painting on Yupo paper back in 2016.
My first major session of experimenting with Yupo back in 2016.

So, let's move on to my tips for watercolor success on Yupo.

Starting with the basics:

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.  Look for water-soluble graphite pencils.  Draw with watercolor
     pencils instead of graphite.  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.

Those are the basic guidelines I understood when I first began experimenting back in 2016.  I had been aware of Yupo for quite a few years but had avoided it.  I feel better knowing many watercolor artists are still avoiding it like I did.  Still, it's worth the risk and you might find it's your new love.