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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!



  1. as you say, Leslie, endless possibilities, and your Granddaughter is a lucky girl, ‘cos it sounds as if the two of you had such fun together, almost play and learn for art…the process you described sounds very tactile and a good chance to get messy, (messy being a state of play I enjoy too) IN fact I remember time spent with my Grandparents as the happiest of all…
    I look forward to seeing your step by step guide…I love seeing the stages and the finished article … a transformation before your eyes…

    • This was fun to do with her, Pen. A little messy in the drippy water stage, initial washes and glueing. After that it was a piece of cake. I can only hope that she feels like you (about Grandparents)for time spent here, Pen. Thank-you for the comment! 🙂

  2. these just make my heart sing…ah!

  3. Wonderful how you’re taking the time to share talent with your granddaughter. Never heard of the paper but I can always count on you to inspire! Your not a coffee drinker are you? LOL Always with a mug

    • Oh yes, I like coffee and also hot green tea! This self portrait came off rather quickly in my portrait mirror as a continuous line drawing, to begin with, without much thought as I had to keep up with the Granddaughter who said, ” I’m going to draw the woods on a rainbow, Grandma”. Zip zip and she was done. The mug was there and I so don’t like to just draw my “mug”, alone. Two mugs are better than one! 🙂 Ha!
      Thanks, Ryan!

  4. This looks like so much fun!! I really adore your granddaughter’s colorful trees! 🙂 (I’m looking forward to seeing more.) I am always with a mug, myself! he he

    • This is fun. I love the joy and the excitement she brings to activities like this. I rather like her woods on a rainbow and have pondered framing it. “Happy Trees” are what they are to me. Thanks, Beth! 🙂

  5. Great info about masa paper, Leslie! I went to the links you suggested and learned something new – thank you!

    I am always a fan of your granddaughter’s art and was happy to see her new work. I know the epithet “fresh” has been overused, but that’s exactly what comes to mind when looking at her new piece – fresh and fun and uninhibited = happy :). How great is that?!

    The batik masa self-portrait is very interesting and unusual with its unexpected texture. Leave it to you to come up with something so original!

    • Weren’t those other blogs interesting, Alex? I read everything Myrna posts. Now if I could only be as expressive as she manages. She uses a lot of different techniques to bring her compositions together. I figure I have the remainder of my lifetime to learn how to do all those things. ….and my Granddaughter will be the steady push to keep me going! Ha! Thank-you for saying you are her fan. She will love that. Thank-you, also for the comment on self portrait…….it was one way to get the wrinkles in without ever consciously painting a one! 🙂

      • LOL about the new batik wrinkles technique :lol:! I better start practicing… There are ever growing numbers of them as time passes :).

  6. Leslie, I think talent runs in the family! Your grand daughter’s painting is wonderful! Vibrant with great color sense. My December / January collage started with a masa base. Just a couple of thoughts since I don’t have much experience with it…Quiller uses it in his collage paintings. He uses cut or torn shapes to get texture. At times he combines it with other papers in one painting. Maybe there is something to learn there… In one class we used masa and soaked and mounted it before any drawing or painting was done. just fyi…

    • That is some of what Myrna and Susan do with it, also. I am going to stop drawing the drawing, first. Not enough of the image is left and I always have to re-draw it. I did come to that conclusion. That is probably why you were taught that way. I do believe there are mediums that would not disappear during wrinkling and wetting. Waterproof ink would be one and crayon another, etc. Thank-you for your input, Linda! 🙂

  7. It is so inspiring how you introduce us to so many different techniques and processes. Love the SP with your coffee mug 🙂

    • Thank-you, Amber! I make myself do self portraits because I find them really difficult. I admire other artists that that paint them.

  8. I can only react in the most positive ways seeing both your work and your grand daughter’s together. She appears to have an intuitive sense for color and composition. I am one post behind you…but I like the gray horses even more than the golden ones that proceeded it. Good work Leslie!

    • About the being one post behind? Happens to me too. Thank-you for liking those grays! I just think gray horses are so much fun to watch mature and change with each shedding. The granddaughter absolutely is infatuated with color. Not long ago she stared at her palette of colors that I had made for her and then at mine. She said, “Grandma? Your colors are so pretty.” I told her she had the same pretty colors. She replied, “…but you have more of them…”. Now we share my palette with me saying, “rinse your brush…rinse your brush…careful” 🙂 Oh what fun. I need to take her for a walk when the weather warms up and search for found objects so I can share with her what you do, Al. I think she would just enjoy that so much. Thank-you for sharing yours with us. Thank-you for the comment.

  9. Very interesting. I wonder if an alternative to watercolour would be to use fabric paints? They dry differently from most watercolours and can be ‘fixed’ later with a hot iron.

    • Sounds interesting, Val. I have never worked with fabric paints. I would imagine this would act like any other support and take the paint and the fixing just fine.

  10. Hard to imagine you finding anything difficult, Leslie. (re: your comment about self-portraits) You give the impression of being able to just jump into all kinds of newness. I lived with a glass artist who had studied colour. He used to ask me to work with him on choosing colours. I asked him why when he was the one who studied colour. “That’s the problem. I’m inhibited by all the rules I was taught.”

    Another artist friend of mine just suddenly started painting one day. Her first half dozen paintings are still my fav…full of fab. colour. She joined the Painter’s Guild and her colours have disappeared.

    I’m with your granddaughter.

    • Oh my goodness! You have addressed the “heart” of the matter in this comment, Amy. What a wonderful comment!
      There are no “RULES”. I feel very strongly about that. There are, however, guidelines that can help us in our journey that relate to color, composition, value, shape, line, format, etc. When we take that leap to study some of these things we, as humans, seem to forget the inspiration that led us there and hand over our minds and beings to instructors thinking that they have all the answers to what we need to do to improve. Instructors, in their desire to mold these students, often fall into the trap of saying “NO” and “it SHOULD be this way”. That sets the tone for failure in some artists. I believe this strongly. Perhaps a better way to approach a student would be to point out what is beautiful about their work and then to say, “I wonder what this image would look like if you used blue in it, predominantly”, or “Wow, do you see how cool this is? Right here is an area you could use red in to just pop that building and make the viewer want to go there!” I only know this because I have battled that ever-present voice that we all have that says, “Yuck, your work is not good enough”. It is far better to teach from a positive approach and to remember that we are only guides, sharing the good fortune of what we love to do. I try to remind my students of this “all the time”! It takes a little more work and a little more going back and remembering what our art looked like on our journey so we can picture the great things our students are accomplishing. It also takes a student that is willing to push that voice of negativity back. I spoke of this a little in my post in March of last year:
      I think it is wonderful that your friend asked you about color because these guidelines in art are all set up over years and years of observing what the viewer is drawn to, not the artist. Please share this with your friend. Her color sense is still there. Perhaps she is a bit overwhelmed with all the suggestions coming her way. There are artists who use color, more than anything else to speak to the viewer. They are often bold and eye-catching works that say, “Look at me!” It is alright to be different!
      Thank-you, Amy. You have touched on one of my big “bug-a-boos”.
      Oh. I try everything so I can share these possibilities with my students. I want them to know that there are more ways than one to approach their work. I need to practice them first.

  11. Leslie, what a joy to be able to do things like this art project with your granddaughter.
    Nice paintings!
    And the effect is very nice.
    Do you think it is a good idea to crumple a grandmother?! LOL – I am only joking!
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    • Ha! Sometimes I feel crumpled, Jan! Maybe that is why I enjoy the coffee and the green tea. Just perks me right back up! I am totally enjoying this paper crumpling. Thank-you, Jan! still smiling…. 🙂

      • Not to worry Leslie, I am also a little crumpled, as a grandfather. And there is nothing the coffee or green tea can do for my little crumples! 🙂

      • You are a riot!!!! Chuckling……

  12. Thanks for the chat – you are a star!!

  13. I really love this project. There is a stain-glass feel to the look of it. I also wanted to tell you that I really enjoy reading these posts on joint projects with you and your granddaughter. 🙂

    • Thank-you, Yousei. I don’t know who has more fun when we get going on these projects. It has just been this winter that we are both able to work, together, at the same time. For two years I’d have to sit right next to her and help her reach the water glass to clean her brush or turn the palette so she could reach the color she wanted. Now? she knows all that and we can really get on with it! Thanks, again. 🙂

      Just a note…I noticed your avatar shows on Richard’s blog. It is not coming through here. Do you know why?

      • No, I don’t. I’ve looked my gravatar image selections over and don’t see a problem on that end. It often doesn’t show up immediately when I comment, but turns up later. Maybe it’s because the images for your comments are so small, but I don’t think that should matter. I’ll have another look. I like seeing that bunny. 🙂

      • Perplexing……???

  14. I had not seen a new post email of yours in my email box for a little while and thought maybe I had goofed some how; well there is only one way for that to happen. Anyway, I thought I’d come take a look and am certainly glad I did. I love these paintings, Leslie. I really like it when you and your granddaughter work together on art; she is getting to be quite the artist. And you, Wow, look at you in that self-portrait! It looks just like you, based on your avatar and other self portraits I’ve seen. You are always finding the coolest art project to work on. Thank you for sharing, Leslie!

    • Thank-you, Debbie! ….Big smile from me…. I am amazed when I look at what she does. Have I been blind for ever so long to the wonderful shapes and colors that little ones come up with? Thank-you for your kind comment on my self portrait. Those are hard and I make myself do them….One of these days, I must get a little more funky with them.

  15. AHHHHHH!!!! Hello BEAUTIFUL Leslie!!! SOOOO nice to be in Your room! These paintings by You and Your grand daughter are wonderful. So joyful. I like the crumpled paper as well. Hugest Hugs to You, Thank You for Your kindnesses and Your beautiful art, and Cheers and Namaste. 🙂

    • Hi Bliss! Welcome back! Thank-you for the comment on our paper crumpling painting project. 🙂

  16. Both of these are both lovely and colorful. Sweet projects for your grand daughter!

  17. OMG! I could have sworn I commented on this. But alas, I did not.

    I’m now in love with Masa paper. Your self portrait and Sydney’s art creation are just wonderful. I recognized you immediately. It’s like you’re holding your cup out to toast us, your loyal and faithful readers.

    • I am holding my cup out to toast all of you who take the time to visit, here! Good Eye, Carol! Thank-you for your kind comments in regard to Sydney’s and my work.

  18. What a joyful painting your granddaughter made ! I love it ! She is so lucky to have you to play and create with !

    • Thank you, Isabelle. …and I am lucky to have her take an interest in doing projects like this. Her exuberance is wonderful!

  19. You should have been an illustrator. I think this all the time when I look at your work. This one made me smile, I love the details in the mug and your hand holding it! It’s one of my favourites. I think your grandchildren are very lucky to have such a wonderful grandma 🙂

    • I would not mind my pictures, paintings or drawings, being illustrations. The hard part about being an illustrator is trying to get the image that someone else describes the way “they” would like it. That baffles me. Thank you, Keith. I am very fortunate, indeed that my grandchildren take such an interest in something I enjoy and can share with them.

  20. Wow, i’m impressed with your granddaughter ‘s art work, it’s very mature and impressive. I guess she followed the right teacher. Great work on your self portrait, the texture is really superb. You inspire me with an idea to start my own project too.

    • Why, thank you, Francis! The Granddaughter will be super pleased with your comment when I show it to her tomorrow. She really does take an interest in making pictures. Just today she sat done with a pencil drawing that is in one of my art books and did a rendition of it in her sketchbook.
      Oh…I do hope you try this or something like it. Thank you for the visit and the comment! 🙂

  21. Love your comment to Amy about having “there are more ways than one to approach… work”. I often say to certain people in my life that there is no one right way and that you can do/try anything. I think using two techniques in an art such as this is very clever. Your granddaughter is one talented girl, and lucky too for having you as a teacher.

    • Thank you so much. I wondered, at the time, if I had said too much Earthianne. I feel very strongly that we all see differently just as you have known in your approach to life. How boring if we were all alike doing the same thing….Thank you for your comments on my granddaughter’s work. 🙂

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