Skip navigation

Search Results for: citrasolv

My watercolor and collage class just ended . This is probably the most time consuming, creative and experimental class I teach.

Susie Covitt

Susie Covitt

Laura Lindsay

Laura Lindsay

The above collage paintings were created using watercolor and Citrasolv collage papers that we made from treating National Geographic photos with Citrasolv. If you would like to know how to make these papers, click here.

Midge Wallace5

Midge Wallace5

Next we created abstracts by experimenting with the different textured rice papers we had purchased and layering watercolor and rice papers, one atop the other. We payed attention to elements of design as well as attempting to create a center of interest. The purpose of this assignment was to get used to the use of the papers, pigment and glue.

Jan Reche4

Jan Reche4

Cindy Guzik3

Cindy Guzik3

The next week we began much the same way with layers of pigment and rice papers and searched our compositions for something representational and developed it to portray what we saw. Both of the first exercises were free of any reference material until we saw something begin to appear. If we needed a reference, it was only to be used to help us bring what we saw forward.

Dianna Burt2

Dianna Burt2

Beth Akey6

Beth Akey6

For the final week, we created something realistic with watercolor and rice paper collage.

If you would like to view all the watercolor collage paintings created by this class, click here or scroll to the top of the page and click on the page Student Art: Watercolor and Collage.


The above painting was  created by using colored collage papers that I made by treating National Geographic photos with a solution called Citrasolv. I have a tutorial on how to create one of these here.

I felt the initial painting of these cows looked a bit washed out and wanted to deepen the darks in the cows and connect them a little better; allow them to stand out.

The original painting can be viewed here.



I had so much fun creating this image! This bird caught my eye the minute I saw the reference photo on wet canvas. I think it was just listed as a vulture. Thank you to wet canvas for continuing to supply artists with inspiration through your reference library!

When I first drew this bird, I did not include the beard because the background in the reference photo was so dark you could not see it. The other thing I was intrigued by was the full hood and crest of feathers, which were mostly white in the reference photo.  Ha! I began a search for this strange bird and found him and his hood and crest were red or reddish brown! Those in the wild “dust bathe” and the red coloration comes from the soil. I found a good description of him here. The reference photo was probably of a bird kept in captivity. Their hood and crest are generally white.

I began this with a line drawing and painted the entire bird and background before I added CitraSolv collage papers to his wings and hood. Click here if you would like to learn how to create these beautiful collage papers and use them in a watercolor painting.

I just read a really creative post on Carol King’s blog here. She used an Elegant Writer pen to design her composition and then painted into it to cause the ink to run. I took the time to watch the video about the technique and wish I could have tried it with this vulture prior to painting and collaging him. I am definitely going to try the Elegant Writer, watercolor and citrasolv as a mixed media this summer on my break. Thank you, Carol, and all of you bloggers who continue to share what you learn! I first learned of citrasolv from Carol’s blog, also.



OK, I’m going to send you to a few places if you want to go and explore this citrasolv use in art. I love it!  It was first introduced to me by Carol King on her post here. She is the one who gets the blame for why my garage smells like this cleaning agent about three times each year when I go to work making colored papers from National Geographic photos. I explain the process of how to make these papers here.  If you really want to know all the neat things that can be done with Citrasolv and view a huge artist gallery of art created from them, you can visit this site provided by the Citrasolv company here.

My students just shared their creations this week. They each used these wonderful papers in their own creations. There will be a few of them shared on in their student gallery I post in a few weeks. Thank you to wet canvas reference library for the reference image for this handsome turtle. It was not named in the photo, but one of my students looked him up and found this. He is a red-slider turtle. I have also done two collages, without paint,  here and here. When I use them this way, I call it drawing with paper.  I never set aside time to keep one of these going on the side. Maybe I should start doing that this summer. They are time consuming, but so worth it!



I love working with papers made with Citrasolv.  Thank you to Carol King’s post of three years ago, found here, I was introduced to what Citrasolv, a natural cleaner and degreaser concentrate, can do to transform National Geographic photos into beautiful collage papers. My two previous posts on this are found here and here.

To prepare for any Citrasolv collaging, I prepare the papers in advance so that I have a lot of colors and patterns to choose from.  I use a glass jar and pour enough Citrasolv into it to do several National Geographics. I work in the garage ( for ventilation; the smell is so strong when working with the concentrate) to do this. I lay out two rows of newspapers on the garage floor to lay my drying papers on and get busy. I set up a TV table and cover it with newspaper. Then, working from front to back of a National Geographic magazine, I either brush, spritz or eyedropper the Citrasolv on the pages with photos. Between some of the pages, I crinkle up some saran wrap for a stained glass sort of look to some of the papers (pages under saran wrap take a little more time to work). Some of the adds don’t work so I usually skip those. Spread the solution on both pages. I have had some problems with the dry page sticking to the wet page and have lost some of those prints. Then I take a coffee break or have a sandwich or something. There is a small waiting period for the solution to do its work. I find it takes longer in the cold of winter (yes! I have toned papers in the winter!  🙂   ).  Once I see the solution has done its “thing”, I begin carefully tearing out the pages and laying them on the newspaper to dry. Drying is fast; 15-20 minutes! The pages are usually pretty easy to tear out because they are softened by the fluid. Here are some examples:

To start this project, I painted, first. I have rushed to use the papers too soon, in the past. It is almost as though the artist needs to see the values in the paint before he can decide which values and patterns in the papers to choose. I suppose, if I worked in another media, I could work on the surface of these papers and I could go back and forth with my choices.  So I painted


and painted


and painted


The whole time I worked on the above painting, I concentrated on value. I wanted to use my papers as some of the darkest darks in the piece.

I then paused and waited for the above to dry while I mixed my glue. I like using acrylic matte medium with some water mixed in. Just a little water;  I don’t want my mixture drippy wet, but also not thick. I have several old brushes I devote to the glueing process. They get pretty gummed up and I usually have to soak them in warm water before I use them, as they dry like cement.


I began by cutting little pieces of darks to color in the background under foliage behind the barn on the right. I started working in the trunks and limbs of the background trees. I always brush a thin layer of the glue on top of each paper. The papers are not acid free and I read in one of my art books that the glue on front and back will help preserve the color and protect the surface of the watercolor paper. At first, it is confusing, but, as I added more papers, the scene began to appear.


In this step, I finished the trees in the background and went back in with greens and yellows to fill in more leafy forms to help it read a little better. I added the foreground electrical pole, background foliage behind the second barn and a few branches on the foreground shrub.


The next step was one of the most difficult with this particular painting. I painted the shadow shapes on the second barn. I was careful to go back into the shadow shape and delineate each board on the side of the barn after the initial shadow wash dried. I also painted some shadows behind the shrub in front of the first barn and on the left side of the telephone pole.

midwestbarns  finished painting

To finish the painting, I extended the electrical pole down to the side of the foreground road and added the wires. I know. I know. Why the pole and wires?  I think it was because it was part of the allure for me when I chose this reference photo (thankyou to Wet Canvas) for my painting.  I thought the pole and wires added to the depth and it is so much a part of a midwest scene such as this one.

I love working in collage and especially with these papers. I think it is a wonderful exercise in values and patience. They do take time.

The Citrasolv art page can be found here. It was great to learn that some of the art supply companies are now carrying Citrasolv as one of their art mediums!

The above image was designed using a photo that my sister sent me of her cat, “BOO”, thinking he had hidden himself in the grasses around her home.  The image was somewhat fuzzy and I felt I would not do him justice in watercolor. My creative drawing class will soon be working on a project  where they will be asked to draw or paint with paper so I decided to give this image of Boo a go with that in mind. I decided to use papers that I created from National Geographics treated with the cleaning agent Citrasolv.  For a tutorial on how to create these papers click here. I usually spend some time preparing and drying these papers, in advance, so that I have them stored for when I need them.

    first step

The above is the first step in my process of creating Boo. I drew him on a piece of 140 lb coldpress watercolor paper. I only include those lines that I feel are necessary to guide the bolder shapes as they are soon buried by the papers. I began with his eyes. I found a yellow page that had turqouise bubbles to use for his eyes. In order to get the shape correct, I first traced the shape of his eyes using tracing paper, cut them out and used those cut outs as a pattern over the colored paper to cut out the shapes I needed. This is how I work.

1.  Trace the shape.

2. Cut out the shape on tracing paper.

3. Lay tracing paper over the colored paper I wish to use and cut that shape out again.

4. Glue it to the surface where needed.

I am careful not to cut out HUGE shapes as they tend to wrinkle more. I use acrylic matte medium as my adhesive. Sometimes I mix small amounts of water with it if it begins to thicken while I am working.

I then began cutting and glueing shapes for the background. I chose papers of the same value range as I was going to use for the cat because I wanted him to appear somewhat hidden.  I chose warm colors for the background of the earth and cool colors for the cat so that there would be some differentiation and so the viewer could find the image. I tried very hard to create an interesting composition of colors so that the background looked like a painting.

  second step

I then begin to draw and paint the cat’s shapes with paper. Note that I cut crescent shapes of paper for his belly and several pie shapes for his haunches.  This helped to give him a three-dimensional quality through the use of cross contours.  Had I cut out one large piece of paper for the entire body of the cat, he would look fat and the paper would have wrinkled. I did not want him to appear as a silhouette.

 third step

The next step was the most difficult. This was because there were many variations of values and shapes needed to describe the face and paws. The paper shapes were tiny and difficult to glue down without them sliding around.  I used a q-tip on some of them to rub them down flat, rather than my paintbrush. (I save aside several brushes to be used only for glueing with matte medium as they become stiff and damaged over time). There are 53 pieces of paper in the cat image, alone.  By this time, I am actually feeling as though I am drawing and painting with the paper, for sure.

  finished collage

The final step was the most fun. I divorced myself from the photo reference and designed my own grasses and plant shapes to furthur camouflaging Boo. I worked them in and out and through his form to furthur increase depth. I was very careful to save parts of him that I wanted to show thru. The final step was to add whiskers and highlights to the eyes with white acrylic paint.

I have used these papers once previously to create a selfportrait, found here.

I thank Carol King for having originally introduced this process to me here.

More  Citrasolv art may be viewed on the artist gallery page of the Citrasolv website here.

Kari Zeplin6

Diane Winningham

Joe Isca4

Bill Lambert5

The above paintings are from our Exploring Watercolor class. These artists learn the basics about watercolor. They learn how to create colorful darks and value differences. They learn how to recognize differences in value and that it is always better to allow the water to help them create. Basic color combinations are discussed and practiced. They learn to use a sponge, masking fluid,  a magic eraser, salt, make a rubber band brush for grasses, and how to soften an edge with their brush. They practice skies and water and trees and buildings. They take watercolor magazines home with them, each week, so they can see all the different ways artists use watercolor. This is the class that starts it all. If .ou would like to see all of their incredible work, click here.

Mary Ann Berron3

Kathy Cron4

Masa Paper Painting

Laura Nellum

Ink and Watercolor Painting

Linda Gerbers3

Joyce Racine4

Rachel Peterson3

Gouache Resist

Jennifer Hope

Tammy Enrietto

Watercolor and Collage

The above paintings were completed in a class titled Watercolor Plus. It is probably the most creative as well as the most demanding watercolor class that I teach. I pretty much teach different techniques for the use of other media in watercolor. The artists select the things they want to try. I am so pleased with the results in this class that you must visit their gallery page by clicking here. These artists worked with masa paper, gesso and watercolor, gouache resist and watercolor, many different forms of waterproof black ink and watercolor, elegant writer, citrasolv collage and watercolor and rice paper and watercolor. High praise for the work you all did!!!!

Nancy Longmate

Sue Joseph6

Janet Heffley4

The above paintings were completed in the Advanced Watercolor Class. This class is designed to be a class where artists, who have completed all the other classes, may come and work together on paintings of their own choice. They must complete at least 3 paintings in the 6 week period. I am available as a mentor as well as them helping each other. They have a sharing time at the end of each class session. If you would like to see all of their work this period click here.

Henn Laidroo


Laura Butchko

Kara Morris3

Jim Wulpi5


Jan Reche

Diana Ringer2

Linda Flatley2

The above paintings are just a few from the spring classes in watercolor this year.

The beginning class learns about their supplies, basic techniques in application such as wet-in-wet, wet on dry and dry brushing. They learn about color combinations and value, texture and techniques to enhance texture. They learn to use masking fluid. We talk about things we need to be concerned with when painting trees, clouds, buildings and little people. If you would like to view more of the Beginning Watercolor  paintings,  there is a temporary gallery set up here.

The Watercolor Plus class worked on six different mixed media approaches with watercolor. They painted on masa paper. They worked with ink and watercolor and chose all sorts of different techniques with ink. One example using ink might be this technique. They used citrasolv collage and watercolor. They used white gouache to glaze a painting. They did a gouache resist.  Everyone painted on a textured gesso surface they created.

If you would like to view a gallery of the  Watercolor Plus class paintings click here.

Thank you to all my students who attend my classes and share their art here!

My Watercolor Plus class has been working away on trying to complete a painting a week; each one using a different medium with watercolor.

The photo reference for the above painting came from one of my students. Thank you to Dawn!

If you enlarge the above painting times three,  you will be able to see

the different rice papers I used for the nest leaves and grasses and the citrasolve collage papers I used for the adult bird’s feathers.  Just another way I enjoy working with watercolor.

For more on citrasolv click here. For more on rice papers and watercolor click here.



Sorry for my long absence. I will slowly be getting back to visiting all of you and hope to post more frequently.

The above two paintings were done by using the gouache resist technique that I have outlined for anyone to try by clicking here. I have always enjoyed this process, even though it is lengthy. I like the rustic block print-like look to them. Some of them, I have liked in the black and white stage and choose to not color them in with watercolor.


Another painting I worked on was one that I combined waterproof black ink and watercolor to create. I initially splattered the surface of the watercolor paper with white acrylic gesso and waterproof black ink ( I use india ink). I then drew out my composition and used two separate techniques to lay in the inking. I drew and scraped in the mane on the foreground black and blue horse with a razor blade. I also drew some of the fine lines on the background horses with the tip of the razor blade. The larger black inked lines were drawn with an eye dropper and spritzed with a fine mist from a spray bottle.


The last painting I completed was a self portrait of me with my new rescue dog. This is painted with watercolor, first. Then I added numerous paper collage. The dog is mostly rice paper and watercolor.  The dark creases in my sweater and the bit of blouse under my chin are citrasolv collage papers.

Again, I apologize for my long absence and will be around to play catch up and see what you all have been working on.