Skip navigation

Not long ago, I posted a new technique I had learned, here. I would like to add some furthur updates to this as there are two bloggers who have tried this.  One is Louise who blogs poems, photos and paintings here. The other is Beth who is continually exploring new things, also, found here. Thank you to both of you for trying this and I hope it opens new doors in the world of watercolor. In Beth’s and my discussions, back and forth, she mentioned that she had used something different than I do to adhere the masa to her watercolor paper.  I am wondering if the fact that I use acrylic matte medium for the glue,  gives me the opportunity to lift paint as I work and also helps to set the tone and darken the pattern when I adhere it to the surface. So… today I photographed my process showing you the toned paper before glueing it and then again the darkened color that appears after I glue it.

This is the look of my toned paper before I glue it down:

   click on image to enlarge to see dot

Note the tiny black dot in the lower left hand corner. I place that there prior to wetting the paper so that I know what side is the shiny side after wetting it. I use a waterproof black ink pen to make that dot. I then turn the paper over:

I use a 2 inch wide soft bristled watercolor brush and acrylic matte medium with about one sixth water to medium stirred into it, pictured here, and apply it liberally to the back side of the masa (the side without the dot).  I then flip it:

…and glue it to the surface of a pre-cut and taped down piece of 140lb coldpress watercolor paper. I cover the top side with matte medium with my 2 inch brush, also, encouraging the paper to flatten and the wrinkles to crease over so I get a tight seal of paper to support. This is when it darkens. I don’t know why. Perhaps the acrylic matte medium helps. If you are not getting enough color into the cracks, try using a couple dark staining colors. I used all dark staining colors on this one. They were aureolin, prussian blue, halloween orange and permanent rose. A few times, while toning, and prior to drying and glueing the paper, I have stroked some color into the front side also. This makes the toning even darker. I hope this update helps. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if you are having problems while trying this.  The paper is very fragile when it is wet but not so when dry. That is why I glue it down with a soft brush.

I never attempt to tone my paper to what I am going to paint but select something from my reference material that I think might work on the piece I have glued down. This is what I have cropped and ready to use for the surface above:

I have had very little time to paint this last week so have nothing new finished. Posted below is what I am currently working on and will post when I get it finished:

Have a great start to a new week everyone!


  1. I have a busy week coming up as well so it is comforting that I am not the only one neglecting the blogosphere. Actually both of us may end up with some good material if our activities include the stuff we love! Happy painting. (My house is being painted and what a treat to turn into my driveway and see a fresh coat of clean-everything!)

    • That is wonderful to know, Amy. It seems to bring comfort to know that others are busy, too. A newly painted house IS a joy to come home to. (That reminds me. I have two windows that need touch ups before the winter winds begin to blow). 🙂 Thank you, Amy!

  2. Thanks, Leslie! I have 3 pieces ready to glue down, so I think I’ll try your method. I had so much fun playing with the masa paper. You were so right… once I tried it I realized my art will be entering a new dimension. I posted my second effort today. Tomorrow I will post the first effort. 🙂

    • I am wondering if the matte medium just makes it easier to adhere it and have a good base to lift color and such. It may also help the paint pigment to come through darker in the wrinkled areas, so your input aboput that since you used something else will be interesting for me to know. Thank you so much for doing this as I want to include this in my watercolor plus class this winter.

  3. Thank you for the update. I did use Matte medium to glue to the watercolor paper, but did not add to top, the next time I will . I want to get 2 or 3 prepared today so I am glad I saw this before I started. For my 1st one I did not have a plan and just kept looking at it until I saw something emerge. I then used tracing paper and drew a sketch over it trying to use the toned colors as a loose guide. When satisfied I transferred drawing to paper and just painted. Well of to the studio to wet my Masa. See what you started 🙂

    • As always, when an artist tries to share what he or she is doing there is always something she leaves out. I think by applying the matte medium on the top surface, also, allows me to lift paint in areas where I want to. It also allows me to stroke the air bubbles out from under the paper and secure the crinkled ridges, I think. Thank you for trying this, Louise as every example I see of yours and Beth’s helps me to see someone elses work on this paper. I want to try and teach it this winter in my watercolor plus class. It sounds like you like the surface, too! What fun and thankyou so much!

  4. It was fascinating to read all that goes into preparing the Masa paper Leslie, (and I even found the little black dot… I couldn’t see it at first as I have this stupid inability sometimes. left and right just fuddle my brain!! 😉 ) Am waiting to see the finished product Tiger Wise. (Tiger Eyes!!) … have a great and productive time my artistic friend. xPenx
    (I’ve been fighting Nature in the garden, the terrible wet weather we’ve been having has increased the growth out there ’til it’s almost a jungle. Maybe I shall spot your TIgers?? Yikes!!)

    • I think that black dot is easier to see when you click the image larger. I try to make it not too big so it is kind of lost in the piece. Hugs to you and Amy for taking time to read this post as you are both writers. Perhaps it helps to know that we artists have to go through preparations and re-writes, also. 🙂
      Will try for the weekend with the tigers. Thank you, Pen!

  5. wow thanks for sharing~~~ people who read your blog shall be able to start with a masa paper and paint right away~!

    • Oh. I hope they will, Summer. I don’t mind questions, either, if they have any problems. Hope it is something that can be added to their techniques when they happen across something that this would be good for. Thank you, Summer!

      • you are welcome~~~Leslie
        maybe people can plan on different ways of folding this paper
        maybe for trees, the folds can be small, crunchy and triangular-ish
        and for the river, the folds can be long, smooth and along the river~~~
        like brush strokes
        these folds can talk to us

      • That is a totally interesting idea, Summer.

  6. You’ve supplied all of us with everything we need to know to get started…thank you for that, Leslie!

  7. I love the look of this paper, wrinkled and toned, even before any image was created on it. What an exuberant surface!

    • This surface is a blast to work on. Maybe it takes away a little of the worry about how to create a little pizzaz. I also like trying to pull a composition through on it and I think that is part of the allure for me. Thank you, Alex.

  8. This is an interesting posting and one that is very helpful
    towards the adventure… I guess trying something new is
    always a tad unpredictable, however with your step by step
    guidance it erases the possibilities of failure… Excellent

    Androgoth Xx

    • You said it in mentioning an adventure, Andro. That is what I like about it most. I can do the best I can selecting subject material for the surface and could find out, later it wasn’t the one that would work. In that is the adventure. I’m hoping I cleared that up about the fixative that I use by posting this. Thank you!

        • Androgoth
        • Posted July 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm
        • Permalink

        yes I know what you mean, and creating new ideas,
        even when one has not produced the favoured results
        the first time around, is still something that we can be
        proud of, as without an element of failure we are unable
        to progress more positively and it is all a wonderful
        learning curve don’t you think? Have a lovely start to
        your Friday and do enjoy your creativity, I can see that
        you have an abundance of that already but learning
        new skills is always a very interesting and optimistic
        challenge… Be well Leslie and be good too… lol

        Androgoth Xx

      • Excellently put, Andro. Thank you. 🙂

  9. This is a really neat post. Please post more like this. I still don’t have any masa paper but I am putting all this in the back of my mind for future projects.

    • I will do the best I can to share how I do new things, Ronny. You will like this when you get around to it, even if it is next year or the next. I know how that goes. I have ideas on the back burner that I can not get to right now. 🙂 Thank you!

  10. Hi Leslie, I really love the look of this. I am on the hunt for some of this paper in my town and then I’m going to follow your process. Thank you so much for sharing. What a generous gift!

  11. Perfect timing, I just received my masa paper. I don’t know why it took so long ! And I must not have paid much attention when placing the order: the sheets are HUDGE! I’ll have to cut it up, or do a large painting.
    Can’t wait to try! Thank you so much for all the help !

    • Yay! Oh yes, must cut it down some or buy a huge support to glue it to. I am to the point that I do one largeer one and two smaller ones from each sheet. Another thing I thought was that small pieces would be fun to p[aint on and after affixing them to a blank notecard. I’ll bet you could even use this paper as pages of a sketchbook. Have fun, Isabelle!

  12. You make it look easy…I love how the colors change and evolve… Amazing journey to an emerging piece…looking forward to seeing those final steps.
    smiles at you

  13. Leslie, this process is so intriguing and the resulting work is so engaging. I hope one day to have some time to play with it. I’ll email photos when and if I do.

    You inspire! 🙂 Thank you!

    • You Paint????? How very wonderfully “YOU”! Why am I so surprised, anyway? I have been fascinated by imagery, in writing, music, and art on your blog. Yes. If you try it, I would like to see your work! 🙂 You rock, Jamie.

  14. This is such a fascinating process and I love the tigers you are working on. I can’t wait to see it finished! 🙂 Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    • Amber, thank you. I have had very little time for the tigers and am a little perplexed by them at this point because they look “blah” right now. I must think on it and spend some more time trying to bring this image to the blog. Your comment is the “PUSH” I needed, I think.

  15. I hope that you are having
    a wonderful weekend Leslie

    Androgoth Xx

  16. It looks like fun Leslie…I think you have inspired me to try this. Can’t wait!

  17. Well, it’s only taken me two years, but I’m going to give this a try today. I’ll let you know how it goes.

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

  2. By Down by the River: August « Leslie White on 06 Oct 2011 at 2:15 pm

    […] For any who would like to learn this technique, you can find how to prepare the surface here and here. Several followers of this blog have taken up the challenge and also paint on masa paper and they […]

  3. […] This week I returned to working on Masa paper. I believe it is my favorite way to watercolor.  The crinkles seem to add that extra something to the way I paint. For a tutorial to learn how to prepare your masa paper’s surface for painting  click here and here. […]

  4. By Forest | Leslie White on 07 Jul 2013 at 1:15 am

    […] on this type of surface, I have outlined how to prepare the paper here. There is more info found here and […]

  5. By Garden Bridge | Leslie White on 15 Jul 2013 at 12:50 pm

    […] I  have decided to spend some time with my favorite surface which is toned masa paper. I really enjoy watching a painting come to life on this beautiful paper. I never know what it is going to look like and am always intrigued with how the colors I choose play across its surface.  Each piece of toned paper poses new considerations for the artist. Because I brush a thin layer of the matte medium glue over the top surface, I also have some lifting properties with it. (see tutorial on how to tone and affix masa to watercolor paper here and here. […]

  6. By Masa Paper Lion: Sleeping | Leslie White on 11 Apr 2015 at 3:21 pm

    […] This lion was painted on masa paper, a rice paper that can be crinkled, soaked in water, toned, dried and glued to the surface of watercolor paper in order to provide a watercolor artist to paint on a different surface. The textural possibilities are varied and, oftentimes very interesting. They, generally, take me longer to paint, but the extra time spent is well worth it. I have several tutorials. The first one is located here. The update is located here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: