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Here’s a fun technique we have done in class. We soaked our paper for about 5 minutes in a tub of water and then layed it out flat on a sheet of acrylic. If your paper bubbles up in areas when you lay it out,  peel up one edge and wet the back some more with a large flat and spread some more water on the top as you lay it flat again. You don’t want any raised areas when you begin. I used 140lb Arches cold press for this piece. You begin by laying in your background color and start painting your subject in bold strokes. As the paper begins to dry, you begin adding more and more detail. The drier the paper, the more detailed you become with your painting. It teaches you valuable lessons about how to let go and let the water and you begin to get the feel of when you can add detail. Just before the paper dries all the way, you must move your painting to your board or it may adhere to the acrylic. I have used this technique on about 6 paintings and have had no problems with it sticking to the acrylic. After the painting has dried completely, I may touch it up with a few more details. This is extremely useful for abstract watercolor.

Many thanks to Joshua Sellars who told me of a Haikuist who named himself “Basho”after the banana plant.He also shared a blog titled, Akita International Haiku Network where you can view a photograph of the above plant if you scroll to the bottom of this post.


  1. That is beautiful. Did you have a drawing first?

    • Hi Chris,
      Thanks for the compliment. I tried to do a drawing on one of them, but most of the graphite washed off. I suppose I saw enough of it to follow, though. You can’t draw on it after the paper is soaked because it will dent and damage the surface. It is more a matter of patience and shaping with a brush. It takes doing a couple to get the feel of it. Remember you can go back in and finish minute details once it is dry. My framer was kind enough to cut a few different sizes of acrylic for me at a fair price.

        • chrisgentes
        • Posted June 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm
        • Permalink

        I’ll have to try doing that one of these days. I like how that looks.

  2. Beautiful loose quality.

    • Thank-you, Nancy Lee!

  3. Hey Leslie – I love this painting – thanks for sharing the process. I will try this soon.

    • Hi Stephen. Thank-you for the compliment. The lady, whose article I read, who offered up this exercise several years back, painted outdoors like you do. She would soak her paper in the creek, lake, or pond that she was painting. It might be fun for you to try since many of your paintings include water. I don’t know what the saltwater would do to how the paint lays, but it might add an abstract quality that could be interesting. On one of mine, something must have been in the tub of water because there were little starlike shapes all over it as it dried. I left it because it seemed to enhance the painting.

      • I am definitely going to try that when I can spend more time painting. I know that is how Edgar Whitney taught his students to paint, now that I think of it.

  4. The technique of the painting explained is interesting and I do much the same way but not dipping the paper in water for 5 minutes.I will try this and see. A banana plant can come up so colorful! Good work!

    • Thank-you, Lily.

  5. This is gorgeous! I have never tried anything so loose and brave. I’d love to give it a go. It turned out amazing!!

  6. Love it! Frame it! (A private joke from class)

  7. Leslie, I don’t know if you knew this, but the haiku poet Basho actually named himself after the banana plant (called “Basho” in Japanese).

    It would be nice to sit in its shade and read some of his poems… 🙂

    ~ josh

    • Thanks for letting me know this, Josh. I am going to have to pick up some haiku because I enjoy and often re-read the ones you write. It is a huge plant so you would be shaded. It is also a pretty plant with its leaves in various stages of unfurling to open and drooping.

  8. Scroll down near the bottom of this blog entry, Leslie– there’s a bit about Basho and his “Basho tree” and a photo:


    ~ josh

  9. What a great painting Leslie! Can you tell me why you need to lie the paper down on acrylic? Must it be acrylic, or can you use some other surface? I don’t have sheets of acrylic,and I don’t think they have them in college either.

    • The paer has to be at least 140lb coldpress watercolor paper and that ripples when it is wet. The soaked paper will not ripple on acrylic. In fact, you have to get it off that surface before it is completely dry and move it to a board to dry. It will ripple a little after dry, but not so much it doesn’t go flat again when framed. You can use glass, also. My framer cut me a piece of plexi very reasonably. Like a few dollars.

      • Funny, I did wonder if I could use perspex, but you answered my question when you mentioned plexi. We have plenty of it at college, so it’s definitely something to try out.

      • Yep…..they are acrylic

  10. Thanks to Joshua Sellers, I come to know your nice homepage.
    Please say hello to your members, hoping that we’ll share websites with each other.
    Let me link with your site.
    Thank you again. Hidenori Hiruta

  11. So graceful. I love it. I love Basho, by the way!!!!

    • I knew nothing of Haiku or Basho before following Joshua’s site, Jamie. I learned that Haiku causes me to see images and I like that. Thank-you for your comment.

  12. This is so beautiful!!

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Payton « Leslie White on 30 Oct 2010 at 3:03 pm

    […] painting is very similar to the banana plant shown here. I soaked a piece of 140 lb cold press paper in water for about  5 min, making sure the paper is […]

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