…and then you go to work to pull it all together in a balanced composition by adding a few marks of your own.
This abstract painting, Checkered Past (20 x 24), was done with a very limited palette of black, raw ochre and burnt sienna to prevent the accidental creation of “mud”. Once you start folding the yupo in many directions, being careful not to crease it, the paints begin to mingle and make their own beautiful and interesting shapes. A few stamps for letters and numbers added interest , and a boiler bottle with black paint created vertical, slanted lines that held it together.
If you try this method of yupo painting, I would suggest that you use no more than three colors to begin, then add spots of a different colors later to make it pop.
A friend of mine used to gesso all her quarter sheets of watercolor paper when we were traveling in various workshops throughout Europe. When you make a mistake, just lift it off and redo it. This is particularly helpful in plein air painting when you normally have groups of locals passing by, asking questions and giving unsolicited critiques.
I later did a series of small paintings on paper this way and several on canvas, always using watercolors. If you don’t use the staining pigments, you can lift right back down to white. In this painting the green is a stainer so the lifted areas retain a pale hue of cool green.
The painting featured is titled “The Bird Man.” From a photograph taken while traveling in Europe, I developed the painting by making three major diagonal areas across the surface in orange, green and orange again, spattering a little of both colors into the other. I then drew with paint to make my subject matter and lifted out the light areas within the bands of color. Only occasionally did I add more paint in specific areas, either to correct the drawing or add some darker values.
It’s a deductive method that allows the artist to relax and have fun, knowing that anything can be changed, not usually the case with watercolor paintings.
You’ll lose the luminosity of watercolor with this method, but can produce a beautiful work in its own right.
Try it, you’ll like it!
I arrived at class one day with a new canvas and no plan.
I have several methods of getting myself going, one being abstract drawing with black permanent ink drawn into a canvas sprayed with a fine mist of clean water on the surface of the canvas. Lay the canvas flat to do this, then lift and gently tilt in several directions if you want to encourage the ink flow. Add more ink as you go.
When you begin to make marks, the ink detours into the spots and lines of water and makes an exciting image. You can blow lines out with a straw or spray on more water for some dramatic effects. You can use any tool and do anything you wish to manipulate the ink. My favorite ink drawing tool is a dried twig.
At this point, you just watch shapes and marks as you make them. The ink will follow the water and create fascinating shapes. Try to leave plenty of white space.
You can keep the composition pure abstract or, as I did here, find areas that remind you of something representational. “Fox in the Hen House”, 16 x 24, took only a few added marks to suggest birds’ heads, wild flapping, and the fox charging into the scene from the bottom left, tail high and ears cocked.
I like to drop in spots of color toward the end, to add interest without actually defining shapes.
“Fox in the Hen House” is in a private collection in St. Petersburg, FL.