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Monthly Archives: February 2011

   finished painting

As promised, I have put together a step-by-step of how I am preparing the masa paper for use in my paintings. I recently purchased this paper from our art supply store. It can be found online, also. In the previous post, I included links to some sites where  I became inspired and learned how to do this.

Masa paper has two sides to it. One is soft and a little fuzzy. The other side is smooth and somewhat shiny. The instructions were to draw your image on the shiny side. I have done that twice, now. Both times, the image has washed off the paper. I think it could be achieved by using ink or crayon but I have not attempted that as yet. For future paintings, I am just going to do the drawing after I have wet and toned and glued the paper down.

Mark some corner of your masa paper on the shiny side with ink in a lower corner so you will know which side is which and crumple the paper.  I crumple the paper, open it gently and crumple it several times. This gives me many little hairline wrinkles.

Place that ball into a container of warm water and let it soak through. This does not take long.

Wring out the masa paper

and gently open it (it is very fragile at this time, so be careful not to tug and create tears) and lay it shiny side (marked side) down on your board. I lay it atop scott towels as the next step is a little messy and the paint can bleed through to the board and stain it.

While the paper is still wet, apply large washes of color. This color bleeds through the paper as well as settles a bit darker in the wrinkles. If you are concerned about certain colors in certain areas, remember your image is reversed in this step and plan accordingly.

While you are waiting for the above masa step to dry,  tape down a piece of watercolor paper to another board.  The watercolor paper should be larger than the size of the masa that you have just stained as you are going to glue it to this surface.  I used 140 lb coldpress  paper for this.

Once the toned masa is dry. Glue it to the surface of the watercolor paper you have prepared.  On this second painting, I used a hair dryer to finish up the drying process. (Was I in a hurry, or what?)

I mixed two thirds acrylic matte medium with one third water to make my glue. Other artists have used wall paper glue and white glue with success in this stage.

I applied the glue to the fuzzy side, or non-shiny side of the toned masa paper. I covered the surface with it as I did not want air bubbles to gather beneath it as I glued it to the paper. I then flipped this over and set it on the watercolor paper I had previously taped to a board.

I used my brush with matte medium to stroke the paper flat working from the center out to chase air bubbles. Other artists have used brayers or rollers to roll this out flat. I did not worry about bumpy wrinkles I was making as I did this. The more wrinkles; the more the texture.  I  waited for this to dry. I waited until the paper went flat again.

Remember that I said I washed off my initial drawing?  In this step, I redrew my image on the toned masa. I think this is how I will proceed with future paintings I do on masa. I could take some time to prepare my toned papers and have them dried and ready to select from when I want to use them.

Then I painted. I had wanted to see how this looked using darker pigments and if the pattern would show through. I mixed varying amounts of yellow, blue and red to create my blacks for Clyde.  When I first applied the darks, I did not see the pattern and became disheartened by that. As it dried, the pattern began poking through.

In this step I experimented with using titanium white watercolor to define Clyde’s texture in his coat as well as to shape his legs and face. I really liked how this paper took the white!  I shadowed under the ball and alongside his foreground back leg in this step, also.

For the final step, I drybrushed his whiskers in with titanium white watercolor.

After having worked with this paper a couple times, I am thinking of all sorts of uses for it as a support for drawings, paintings and collage works. I can also make up many toned papers to be used as torn pieces of collage papers in other compositions.

I have added an update to this tutorial, here, illustrating what the toning of the paper looks like prior to glueing and after glueing.

I have been visiting  two blogs that post beautiful watercolors on a surface called Masa paper.   Here is an example of one of Susan Cornelius paintings on her blog titled Conversations with the MuseThe other paintings  have been on Myrna Wacknov’s blog  titled Creativity Journey.

My next step was to go in search of a good tutorial that outlined the steps I would need to take to create a Masa paper painting as I could not attend either of these artists’ workshops.  I found a good description on Jeanette Jobson’s blog here.

My Granddaughter had been asking me if she could do another art project with me and I thought that she might enjoy the idea of crumpling and wetting a piece of paper, re-opening it and painting on the surface. I did have to help her quite a bit with the process, but she enjoyed every bit of the crumpling , soaking , painting, and glueing.

   Granddaughter’s Masa painting

   Grandma’s Masa Self Portrait

I am currently working on another and taking step-by-step photos of the process and will post that as soon as it is finished for those of you that would like to try this.  Until then, Jeanette’s directions are very adequate to follow. The only thing I am finding is that my drawings are washing off when I crumple the paper and wet it. I can’t draw dark enough for the image to survive all that. I suppose I could use waterproof ink for the drawing but may want to lose edges in the final stages of the painting. I may decide to do the drawings after I have the toned masa paper mounted on the watercolor paper. I like the idea of using this crumpled and toned Masa for collage or just for another surface to create drawings and paintings and other collage work on.  Endless possibilities!

The above is the second and final attempt at an illustration for my daughter’s wedding invitation.  I tried, once again, to choose my colors to send a message within the painting and tried to make one more masculine and the other feminine, but think they could be either in this depending  on the energy of the individuals.  I chose to represent gray horses as they are born a color and slowly turn white over the years. Much different than a truly white horse that is born white. I hoped to represent the idea that we all have gray areas in our lives that  become more clear and less gray as we steadily grow. I wish for them this growth in their relationship and shared journey together.  I chose the colors of blue and yellow running together in the background.  The yellow representing knowledge of self and the blue to represent truth. Through their self truths running together,  they begin to blend and come forward as green(stands for the heart chakra) and filled with unconditional love. For these ideas I went loosely with the different chakra colors for what they represent.  There are many interpretations of what color stands for so I understand the colors that I chose could mean something different to another.

For those that like to see the steps in creating this image, I have included the steps below.

The above is the drawing with the first washes of color to the horses. I made a gray from cerulean blue and halloween orange for the darker shadow shapes. I included light washes of permanent rose for areas of warmth where I saw it on the forms. I also used frisket to save white hairs as well as light gray hairs from this wash tone in the horses’ manes.

In the second step, I made a bluer gray from manganese blue and halloween orange and defined the faces of the horses and some of the strands of hair in the mane. I mixed ultramarine blue and halloween orange to make an even darker gray for the points of their ears, mane hairs and to define the muzzles and nostrils. The eyes were created using combinations of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. The pinkish areas were created using light aureolin and light permanent rose. This gave me enough representation of the forms to go ahead and work my background.

I made soupy wet washes (large) of aureolin and cerulean blue and fed them into the background very quickly and very wet so that they began to run together.  I then picked up the board and tipped it this way and that so the colors began to run together and hint at a bit of green. I allowed this to dry overnight before going on.

Next, I removed the frisket on the mane and forelock areas and began working in strands of gray in all shades. I also detailed the eyes and furthur grayed the pigment around them. This was the stage where I tried to balance everything and punch my darks.

   final painting

Above is a painting that has taken much thought and stretched me to the maximum of my abilities. It began with a request from my daughter for a watercolor, by me, for her wedding invitation.  I felt honored by the request and had visions of all the colorful things I could try. Visions of two hands clasping, flowers, a pathway through a beautiful landscape, etc. Then she said, “I would like it to be two horses touching noses, perhaps. Could you make one decidedly feminine and the other more masculine?”  I said, “But, it’s a wedding!”  She said, “We are trying to incorporate something for both of us that means a lot to us through the colors we choose and the invitations and the decorations.”  How could I argue that as I was the one who exposed her to horses, in the first place. Why not?

The first roadblock was finding reference material to work from. There are lovely photos of horses but there is a little thing called plagiarism. Thanks to wet canvas, I found several images that I thought I could work with. BUT!!!!! The light was poor on the subjects, the colors drab and I was going to need lots of help from my own background to pull this off.

The above image is my first attempt and may be the one they use as they like it very much.  I changed the colors of the original horses to gold. I wanted to pass on some hidden meaning that I hope their relationship is  successful and the best it can be as they bring the golden parts of themselves to work toward the best for them and their family. I chose to paint the background in varying shades of copper, like the copper penny, wishing them luck along the way. I had to elongate and bulk up the form of the horse on the right to fit the request for that one to appear as masculine as he does. My daughter pointed out that he ended up looking like her old quarter horse,” Buddy”, when I was finished. Perhaps a little memory of him slipped into my mind as I created him. I had to refine and change some lines on the horse to the left to make her look feminine.  By far, the most difficult task was sculpting the forms in their faces. I used yellow ochre, yellow ochre light, raw sienna, a little burnt sienna, halloween orange and even some quin gold and aureolin before I was satisfied.  The grays around the muzzles and eyes were mixtures of halloween orange and magnesium blue in varying strengths.

I have one more attempt using two other subjects for the next one and changing the color scheme so that she has two to choose from. I will post it if it should be halfway presentable.

Thank-you to fellow blogger and friend, June Malone, who has gone before me in wedding invitation illustration. Everytime my mind said, “I can’t.”,  I thought of her and the joy with which she moved forward and created a wonderful image for her relative’s invitation.

Most of us were hit by several rounds of snow last week and over the week end.  One was a blizzard.  Tonight and tomorrow night are going to hit sub zero temperatures. We are going into a deep freeze.  I found the above image about a year ago on wet canvas and set it aside as it looked a little too difficult for me at the time. The inclusion of so many small white areas boggle my mind unless they are snowflakes that I can spatter in.  I have used liquid frisket more this year, so decided to give this scene a go to correspond with our weather we have been having.

I drew the scene in, lightly in pencil (just the tree line and a few sloping lines of drifts). I then masked out everything that was small and white that I saw in the reference.

With a mixture of permanent rose, magnesium blue and a touch of halloween orange to gray the wash a little, I painted the sky in a large wet wash. Where you see light areas, I used clear water into the already gray wash and tilted my board from side to side as well as up and down. This created the granulated wash for the sky. I lifted the wash in the area of the clouds by dabbing with a kleenex (non-lotion kleenex). I repeated the wash on the sky a second time after the first wash dried. For the foreground, I wet the entire area, first. I then took the same gray color and streaked in the long shadows behing the drifts. Around the shadows, I fed in very light washes of manganese blue and permanent rose to give the snow more than a bland white look. Again, I tilted my board.  I did not paint where I wanted it to look lighter and just allowed pigment to run where it wanted.  I also had to soften edges on the long shadows as I worked with a “thirsty” brush (one that is wet and wiped dry with a scott towel or kleenex). This softening has to be done while the wash is still wet or you lose the effect. Fast and furious is the motto with these washes.

I used earthen green, olive green and quin. gold to paint my trees. I allowed them to freely mix together on my paper as I painted them in, color next to color.  I took this step as far as I could without removing the frisket.

This is what it looked like when the frisket was removed. I know! Hard edges and ugly!!!! On some papers, where the pigment is laying on the surface, you can take a damp brush and gently soften the edges and pull some of the pigments into the white areas to shadow and shade them. I had used Arches 140 coldpress paper and the edges remained. I then mixed the same variations of colors and went about shading my drifts, darkening the long shadows, touching up background trees and bringing the scene together. This phase was, by far, the longest phase of the painting. I still think my skills with frisket need some work, but am pleased with my first use of frisket in this manner.

   finished painting

The above was the result.

The above became this with the help of photoshop:

The little dog on the bottom is my little Maltese, “Tucker”. I could not resist.

If you would like a closer look at the above paintings,  just click on them.  Have a great week-end!  🙂