Once again, my class is working with watercolor and rice paper collage. I always encourage them to create an abstract for their first assignment. We use the same glue (acrylic matte medium with a little water mixed in so it is not so thick) and tear our rice papers or cut them and glue them to our painting. We, then, go back in and paint some more as each layer dries.
Above are some examples of rice papers I use.
We begin by choosing a color palette and making marks on our watercolor paper in abstract patterns. This phase can include drips (by turning your wet painting several directions), splatter, light and loose washes and marks with different brushes. I always advise my students to keep some of the white of the paper and ask my students to look for potential areas to work toward a center of interest on or near a “sweet spot”. In the above painting, it is that area that is so dark near the upper right sweet spot. I wait for this initial wash to dry and then begin tearing and cutting different rice papers and adhering them to the paper with the glue I made. Make sure you use only enough glue to adhere the paper. Too much glue dries thickly and interferes with future applications of watercolor. The above photo has some rice papers already glued into it. I try not to think too much in the first layer. I am always working toward the area that I think will become my center of interest. I try to allow the painting to tell me what it wants and try to not get too dark or muddy in the first two layers. The gluing phases of these creations always takes longer to dry, so I try to have two paintings going at the same time and alternate between the two.
The above image is what my painting looked like after three layers of rice papers and watercolor painting. My center of interest was still not strong enough and I wanted to add more gold and some of that lime color to make it pop some more.
In the above, you can see I added those greens and golds to grab the viewer’s eye. Then, I chose a rice paper with some shiny silver things in it and designed a moon-like image on my sweet spot. I chose to lead the viewer’s eye there with some torn strips of that sparkly paper. After that dried, I took a small round brush and darkened some lines and shapes leading to the moon with diox violet.
I really like that I never know what I am going to get. It allows me to relinquish some of my control and let the values, lines and shapes draw me into what is forming on the paper. No two paintings are ever alike and there are endless possibilities!