Posts Tagged ‘paper’


Plaster Coated Paper for Gouache Paint

May 4, 2017

As I get ready to prepare the surface for my new painting, I wanted to test out a ground to use especially for the grass area I’ll be painting. I’ll be using a large sheet of illustration board, and coating it with a thin ground made with spackling compound.

Spackling is a paste made out of (typically) calcium carbonate, silica, and glycol. You can find it at hardware stores, and it’s used for filling small holes and cracks in walls prior to painting. It can be thinned with water. I’ve added a small amount of acrylic medium to improve the adhesion and make it more flexible. In the picture above, I’ve drawn an area in pencil to show the rough texture it makes. It feels like a fine grit sandpaper. I applied just one coat. It creates a nice paint ground, but can lift if you use a very wet wash. Adding acrylic medium helps prevent that.

The main reason I’m using this particular ground is to allow me to lightly scrape away paint layers. You can see the marks I’ve made on the small test area of gouache paint in the picture. It will help me create a more convincing grass texture. The tools I used here are a bamboo pen and a solder scraping brush. The bamboo doesn’t dig too deeply into the plaster, and the steel brush gives a fuzzy, random scratch. I’m using various commercial gouache paint, as well as a couple of my own. This should work well for me.

I’m adding a closeup of the painted area to show the scratch marks better.


Watercolor Paper Stretcher – Version 3

November 1, 2016

My previous version of a paper stretcher worked well enough, but it was a bit awkward and bulky in the design, so I came up with another modification.


I replaced those 4 strips of wood clamped to the outside edge with several small strips of wood glued to the back of the frame and flush with the outside edge. Now I don’t have separate strips of wood to carry around or lose.


In place of the screw clamps, I’m now using 2 inch binder clips attached to these strips of wood. I can fold the wet paper around the edge, and use the clips to hold it place. Now I don’t have to tape the paper to the back when it dries in order to remove the clamps. I can leave the clips on while I’m painting.


The metal handles on the clips are also removable, which makes the frame sit better on an easel or flat on a table.


This frame is 16 x 20.” I may build a larger one, and have the four 1/8 strips go along the whole length of the outer edge so I can place the clips wherever I want. I didn’t have enough scrap wood for that this time, but this will work just as well.


New Design for Watercolor Paper Stretcher

September 6, 2016

I thought up a new project to update my method for stretching paper on a wooden frame instead of taping it to the face of a board. I had made a post on this subject several years ago showing a cheap and easy way that I have been doing this. That works fine, but the pins or staples on the sides can eventually damage the frame to such a degree that I have to make another one. So I thought I’d try out a new design using wood clamps. This is my first rough of that idea.


What I’ve done is build a small strainer type frame similar to that used for stretching canvas. The size is 16 x 20 inches. I’m using 3/4″ square strips of poplar, and thinner strips for the inner bracing. I have longer strips to fit the outer edges, and I’ve built small “C” clamps made of wood and 4″ bolts to grip the paper.


Here’s a shot of the the whole assembly from the back with the clamps in place. I’m using 300# Arches watercolor paper. It had been soaking in a tub of water for 10 minutes. The paper wasn’t quite long enough to wrap all the way around the shortest distance; only up the sides. In this case, I’ll have to keep the clamps on those two sides until I’m finished painting. With paper at the correct length, once it dries I can tape it to the back, and then remove the clamps with the tape holding it tight.


Here’s the front. I noticed that I had the clamps pressing against the paper on the top, and you can see marks they left in the paper. I pulled the clamps back a bit, and re-wet the paper to smooth it, and that got rid of the indentations. I think I’ll modify the clamps so that they have a beveled edge that can’t touch the paper. I might bevel the inner frame also, just in case.

This has only been drying now for about an hour, and I can already feel the paper getting very tight. I’ll check it in the morning to see how well it holds up. I can paint on this with any water based media without worrying about buckles or warping in the paper.


Studio Tip – Binder Clips

January 26, 2016

I’m taking a short break from the painting to show a tip for using binder clips in the studio. I use them to keep my paint tubes organized, or for hanging sheets of paper or canvas. You can buy these at an office supply store in various sizes. These are “medium” size, 1.25 inches.


To slip the clip over the plastic hanger, I squeeze the metal handle and remove them from the clip. I then slide them over the hanger, and squeeze them back on clip.


I can now place the hanger on a rod and clip the bottom ends of paint tubes to them. This allows me to organize the paint by medium or paint color – however I need them. To keep them from sliding down the hanger, I can tie a wire “twisty” on the handle. The clips are strong, and will hold even a large tube of paint.


Alternatively, with this particular type of metal shelving I have, I can slip the clips over the metal rods, and not use hangers at all. You can also get some peg board hooks at a hardware store, and slide the clips on those.


Another use for the clips and hanger is to hold sheets of paper or canvas using these plastic “slide-grip” binders sold for report covers.


They’re less likely to damage the sheets than the metal clips themselves, and will keep the sheets straight. This can be especially useful for wet surfaces that that need to dry. With the painted side facing the wall, dust is less likely to get on the surface.



Yupo Sheets Reviewed for Drawing

January 12, 2012

I’ve discussed the Yupo product before as a painting surface, and now would like to show some test results I’ve made to use it for drawings. Yupo is a synthetic “paper” sheet that is 100% polypropylene. If you’ve ever used frosted (matte) drafting film then you’ll find this has an identical feel. In fact, it comes in a translucent form like traditional drafting film, but also in an opaque white surface that looks more like regular paper. It’s available in various sizes and weights, from 50# up to 144#. The weight I used for this demonstration is 74#. Yupo is available in pads or single sheets. I’ve also seen the opaque option in large rolls 5ft high x 10 yards long. It performs well as a drawing surface in most situations, but it does have a few disadvantages.

Various inks perform differently on this surface. Due to the lack of absorption into this material, all inks take longer to dry than they would on regular paper. As such you should use special care not to touch the inked areas for quite awhile after making any marks. Sumi-e ink beads up just like watercolor paint does. That’s not necessarily bad, just an effect to be aware of. Once it dries, sumi-e actually adheres to it rather well. Acrylic ink, such as the FW or Liquitex brand, adheres the best and will not easily scrape away with a knife blade or smear. If you thin it with water then they bead up like sumi-e. Shellac inks adhere almost as well, but can scrape away somewhat.

Ink markers give mixed results; although, they all draw rather well. The Prismacolor layout markers performed the best. Because of the slow drying rate colors were easy to blend into each other, which can be good or bad depending on what you’re expecting. Once it dries you can go back over them in tinted layers as you would on regular paper, but it makes for a slower process. One big problem with all the other markers I tested is that even a day later after the ink dried I was able to smear the marks very easily. The ink just sits on the surface and doesn’t grab hold to the surface that well. That won’t be a terrible condition as long as the final work is protected behind glass or Plexiglas, and just be careful when handling it. Markers with hard tips also dig into the ink as you make the mark, shoveling it to the side. You may find you get better results with soft felt tips or brush pens. Flexible steel nibs on dip pens, by the way, don’t have that problem depending on how flexible they are.

Dry media:
Soft powdery materials like charcoal or soft pastels do not work very well on Yupo. The marks just slide around and cannot build up a decent dark value; although, they will tone the surface to some degree.

This surface likes graphite pencils. The more graphite content the tool has the better it performs. The feel under the tool is very smooth. Dark HB leads, the Sanford Ebony, or Derwent Onyx pencils glide across the surface nicely; although, it’s hard to tell much difference between them. Even the hard H leads draw well; in fact, they tend to leave a darker mark here than they would on regular paper, so if you use a 5H for light lines you may need a softer touch or harder lead. Pencils that have a high charcoal content like the Wolff brand cannot get up to a very dark shade, but curiously the Derwent Pastel pencil did a better job if not as dark as it would be on paper.

The one problem with graphite on Yupo is it won’t erase well. Erasing first causes the marks to smear before erasing no matter which type of eraser I tried. An electric eraser might remove marks better but would also smear. If your drawing method involves erasing, such as to lighten marks or removing lines, this surface will disappoint you.

Of the other mediums I tested, wax pencils performed well on this material. Prismacolors went down very smoothly and could build up a nice dark shade. Some wax crayons, like the Neocolor brand, did well but cheap Crayola crayons did not do quite as well. None of the watercolor pencils I tried would draw well at all. The Derwent Aqua-Tone pencils were almost acceptable but could not build up a dark value. The oil based Walnut Hollow brand pencils drew very well, but the Faber Castell Polychromos brand did not. China “grease” pencils drew well as did litho crayons. Oil pastels drew very well on Yupo.

The main benefit to Yupo that appeals to me is being available in large sizes. A 5 foot drawing surface is a nice option to have, or even the 24 x 40 inch sheets that are larger than what you can easily find for regular paper stock. Bear in mind that while this surface won’t tear, it can be cut, and also easily creased. You also don’t want any oily fingerprints on the surface so it’s a good idea to wash it first before drawing on it and avoid touching the surface.

The drawing media you choose, among those I mentioned above, will give you good results in most cases with a few considerations to watch out for.


Simple Method to Stretch Paper

June 7, 2011

In order to prepare a sheet of paper for watercolor or acrylic painting, the paper needs to be stretched tight. This is done in order to prevent the water from wrinkling the paper as it dries and shrinks. A typical method is described here at the site. It works fine but I’m not very fond of using gummed tape, since it tends to not stick very well. There are devices like the Bogaboard or Zipp Clamp that are okay a too, but are limited in size. An easy alternative I’ve used is to just tack the wet paper around a canvas stretcher and let it dry.

The stretcher on the left is a pre-cut frame that I bought at a local hobby store, @ 9×12″. The paper I’m using is average weight Arches paper, @ 100#/260gsm. The paper should be at least an inch or more larger than the frame size. I assemble the frame without bothering to glue it and line it up on the paper, cutting off the paper corners to fit the frame. I then soak the paper for about 5 minutes in the sink and brush off the excess water. While the paper is still damp, I fold it up the sides of the frame and tack it down with thumbtacks, pulling it slightly as though stretching a canvas. I don’t need it all that tight since the paper will shrink later. After drying for 30 minutes to an hour, the paper is as tight as a drum.

This also makes a very good drawing surface, especially for soft dry media like charcoal or pastels, since it has a little “give” instead of lying on a firm drawing board, lighter in weight, easy to hold, etc. To set it upright as on an easel I would tape the bottom edge to the frame and then remove that line of tacks. When I’m finished painting or drawing, I remove the tacks and trim off the edges. The stretcher bars are standard white pine with slotted joints that assemble easily and come in various sizes.


The Bright Cafe Painting: Undertone finished

May 19, 2011

I’ve finished roughing in the undertone coloring on my latest painting. I should have a busy weekend of painting ahead.