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This week, for our Watercolor Plus class, we were supposed to create another painting using rice papers and watercolor. This time we were to search for more realism by using a photo reference or for allowing the pigment and the papers to lead us to a more realistic image. The above is what I came up with.

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The above shows the sequence of the painting as I created it with rice paper collage and watercolor pigment.Β Β  All without photo reference!Β  What fun!






  1. I loved this waiting in wilderness! Amazing to see how the image has evolved among a plethora of colours..btw, I am getting my rice paper from USA soon!

    • Thank you for a title, Padmaja! I like “Waiting in the Wilderness”. This is so new to me (creating this way). By the time I finished the piece, my mind could not come up with a title.
      Yay for rice paper. Are you getting masa paper or all different rice papers?

  2. I just read this post in my Reader list and realized something…something I have been trying to figure out for quite some time now. Your rice/masa paper pieces remind me of melted ice cream colors, or when a birthday cake’s icing gets smudged into the tablecloth. I love the way you (probably with good intentions lol) set color down and get a completely different result. The creaminess, the muddy and flowing colors are what sets these apart from other watercolor paintings. Whew! That feels like a art trunk lifted off my brain! all this time…ice cream…maybe it’s because it’s late…lol πŸ˜€

    • Melted ice cream is an awesome take. Thank you for that! I think it might be because the papers give the pigment more of an opaque quality and a creamy look. I like it that you point out the muddying of color and the variations of colors that come through. Perhaps, I ask a lot of the pigment. I often feel like I push it to the limits to see what might happen and how the colors interact. Thank you for this comment, Roni. πŸ™‚

  3. I loved watching the slide show, it is always a treat to watch the process of another. I watched the figure and bunny emerge and the tree and background just seemed to grow in front of my eyes. I’m glad I fixed my settings so I get my e-mail when you post this is delightful with my morning coffee.

    • Morning coffee and art? LOVE IT! Thank you so much! πŸ™‚
      I want to do this some more with the rice paper collage and watercolor pieces. They are very time consuming and the first layer of papers does not always bring the imagery out. I wanted to somehow show that through this video.

  4. Wow, that’s such a cool looking painting. My first thought was “guardian of the forest”. And I didn’t see the bunny until someone mentioned it – but of course a forest guardian would have a forest companion.

    I know next-to-nothing about watercolors and rice paper, but the colors are outstanding and I have no idea how they stay so distinct in places (rather than everything turning a dull brown). The natural elements are terrific – the bushes surrounding the tree trunk, and that really cool yellow/purple tree trunk. So much texture and detail. So very neat. I even see a line of trees in the distance. Great work!

    • I am just beginning to learn this process of watercolor and rice paper collage. I think it is a magnificent way to work with both mediums and adds weight and texture to a watercolor. I like that “guardian of the forest” idea, too! I could not come up with a title. Thank you for pointing out the line of trees in the distance, Cindy!

  5. This is amazing, Leslie! In watching the slide show, I could see the depth develop along with the texture. WOW!!!

    • Thank you, Beth. This one was fun to put to a slide show. I am still just finding my way in the dark without a photo reference, but I see so many other artists creating like this. I can’t help but try!

    • Sandrine Pelissier
    • Posted November 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm
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    • Reply

    Interesting to see this process, so the rice paper collage allows you to work by layers and retrieve some white areas on the paper, makes me want to try it πŸ™‚

    • You would be awesome with these papers, Sandrine. I think they would work really well with a lot that you do. Yes. You can retrieve whites with them or just use them for texture. The sky’s the limit, so see what you come up with. πŸ™‚ Thank you for this comment. I am just getting started with exploring this.

  6. It looks like magic, Leslie! Thank you posting the intermediate stages!

  7. Thank you for taking the time to snap the time lapse photos, Leslie. It is amazing how you coax the subject to come out of the painting. Seeing the first few shots, I decided to squint my way through the slide show (a couple of times) and see if I could see something entirely different. I end up with people as well – two of ’em.

    • That is really interesting that you saw two people, Amy! I would have liked that better, I think. These exercises of creating without a photo reference or model and just relying on my mind’s eye have made me aware that there is so much more to see than what our eyes relate to us. Thank you!

  8. Being able to actually follow the whole procedure was wonderful Leslie, like watching a birth, as form took shape from the basic coloured paper to the end result, at one point I felt I saw an near explosion of ferns suddenly appear, ’twas almost magical, with you as the magician saying…’and now you see it’ πŸ˜€ xPenx

    • I am laughing so hard. You are correct about the explosion of ferns! I got to that point in the painting and could not stand the green bulbous thing I had behind her, so I went in and tried to match some of the greenery to the fernlike growth on the other side of the tree. That is the explosion you describe. πŸ™‚ Thank you for this comment because you read my work as though I was speaking to you through it. I really really like that, Pen.

  9. Really nice to see the slide show of the stages. Interesting end product. Love the colors. So you used no photo reference. I love seeing what you started with and seeing where your mind took you.

    • No references, Yousei, but what the old mind could come up with from the imagery I saw on the paper. This is teaching me a whole lot more about our creative spirit. Makes me wonder what the blind man “sees”. Are they abstracts? Thank you for the visit and the comment! πŸ™‚

  10. Leslie, I like the comment one of the folks posted about your works with rice paper looking like melted ice cream or smudged cake icing. How cool. And the way you did that slide show! HOW DID YOU DO THAT? You are so good about showing your process and progress. Thank you for that.

    I find that the colors you used in this piece are frequently the colors you tend to use in most pieces. You have “signature colors”. Great piece and post.

    • I liked that comment about melted ice cream, also, Carol. It made me realise how valuable the Don Andrews workshop I took last summer was for me.He taught us how to create beautiful granular washes that ran together and how to work our way out of “mud”. I think that is how I get the ice cream in these.
      The slide show is actually an option that wordpress offers us when we set up a gallery of images. It is in that section right after we upload an image. Look to the top of that box and it says gallery. Click on that and start uploading to it, the gallery. Once you have the images you want to present to us, it gives you the option to number each image, line them up in rows and present a gallery to us. At the bottom of that section, it offers you the choice of presenting the images as a gallery or a slideshow. If you click “slideshow” or “video” ( I forget what it says exactly), your images come through like this. It took me awhile to figure this out.
      Thank you for the signature colors comment. I work with the same palette of colors every painting. I don’t ever get bored with them.

  11. Seriously fascinating to see your workflow here Leslie… I don’t know how you have the vision to block out the initial colours… Maybe that’s why I’ve never really got in to painting, as I always want to go straight to the finer details… Love the colours you’ve used too… πŸ™‚

    • You mention an interesting phenomenon. I did not stretch myself when I first began painting, Brian. I always went for the finish for the fear of “messing up”. Once I gave myself permission to totally wreck a painting, I found that it was really difficult to do. There was always another door that opened in the process. Thank you for this comment. Truly one of the milestones an artist bridges at some point in their creating. πŸ™‚ I know you push yourself with your photo imagery. This is kind of like that! You are a fantastic artist!

  12. How pretty, and I like seeing the sequence. Is the woman holding a rabbit? πŸ™‚

    • I think that is what the little white figure looks the most like, Amber. I really don’t know how he appeared but he appeared very near or along with the creation of the woamn. I thought he added a little something so left him in. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  13. I really like the slideshow of the different stages of this painting Leslie as it shows peeps such as myself with no idea on art just how exciting it can be painting… Thank you my great friend and have a lovely rest of day and evening πŸ™‚

    Androgoth XXx

    • Thank you, Andro! I am beginning there are more journeys into a painting than I ever imagined. The video helped me with that, also! Have a great day! πŸ™‚

  14. Hi Leslie!
    Love this painting and really enjoyed watching the process of the development. It’s amazing how different hands produce such different work.
    As always, I love this painting!

    Deb xx

    • Thank you, Debbie. You are correct about the interesting ways in which we all create.

  15. I really like the transitional format you have used to showcase this work Leslie. Wonderful use of texture and colour!! I know I keep saying it – but I must have a go with some of the papers you mention!

    • I just realised the changes these go through, Lynda, by doing this slideshow. It is amazing to me how this painting could have gone off in a thousand different directions. All it tkes is a different thought or a paper glued differently or a brushstroke perceived another way. I think yu have talked about this energy on many posts about artists on your blog. Oh, I hope you can find some time to try this someday! You would be great with this.

  16. Love the layers in rice paper and your technique.You really know how to make the paper work for you. I love Masa Paper and have used it in my own artwork.

    • Thank you Kathryn!
      I took a trip over to your blog and really enjoyed your watercolors! Iwanted to comment on the man in the tutu. Ha! I love that! Truly creative and just plain fun. Comments were closed on that one, so decided to tell you through my reply to you! πŸ™‚

  17. Wow, i enjoy looking at the animation, it’s like the painting is coming to life. I like the colors and the texture it’s amazing. Wish i could spend more time to experiment it like you did. Every week you share a new and wonderful gift, thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Francis. I think I learned a lot by taking the progression shots of this piece and putting them through as a slide show. It is time consuming, though, both this process and stopping to take the photos and download them. Try it once on one of yours. It is amazing what you see in them.

  18. So lovely…it leaps and shifts and morphs beautifully. Thanks for sharing the stages πŸ™‚

    • I love your words of leaps and shifts and morphs, JRuth. Thank you!

  19. Leslie-

    Magnificent!!! And the slide show is a special treat…a view into your creative process. I was especially fascinated by how the red berries (I think that’s what the are?) developed from a red curve. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Thank you, Nanina! Red berries they are now dubbed. I really don’t know what any of this is, other than I went with what I felt I saw coming forward in this painting. This was truly just me and the paper and the paint. I have admired art by other artists that look similar to this piece. I never knew what inspired them, but they all appear to come from deep inside and they are all simple expressions and suggestions of things and places.

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