YUPO:  Miracle paper!

Or The biggest thing to hit the watercolor world since salt!

All watercolor artists are painfully familiar with how difficult it can be to fix errors, lighten areas or change your design once watercolor sets on the paper.  In my experience it has always been with immense amounts of trepidation that I put down a first wash on any picture.  Self-doubt and intimidation wash over my fragile little artistic psyche.

Imagine my amazement and delight when I stumbled across YUPO paper at a small Plein Air Exhibition in the Anza Borrego Dessert last spring!  One of the artists was producing the most luminous, richly vibrant paintings I had ever seen with watercolor paint.  I was fortunate to be staying there during the final reception and dragged the whole family to it in order to meet him and ask him about the YUPO.  He was graciously forthcoming with information outlining the process of using YUPO paper and the challenges he had encountered, along with a brief description of his method and tools.

Basically, YUPO paper is polypropylene.  It is a sheet of white plastic with a matte finish.  This wonderful invention has three miraculous benefits which far outweigh what might be considered negative.  First, the paint puddles and runs and smears lending a gorgeous stained-glass effect as you manipulate the washes.  Second, if you mess up and don’t like the result, you can use a damp paper towel and wipe the whole thing off.  Clean.  No residue left behind at all.  You are back to PURE WHITE paper.  And lastly, since the paint dries on top of the paper, the pigments are richer, thicker and more intense.  The white underneath lends the glowing, vibrant tones to the painting that so amazed me at first sight.

The negatives also revolve around the fact that the paint puddles.  It isn’t as easy to achieve minute detail in small areas as I am used to doing with traditional methods.  You can use the wet end of a toothpick or cotton swab to remove clouds or tree branches and stems in the darker paint and make some very effective detail.  I’m sure a number of tools can be used to creating interesting textures in the removal of paint and I am continuously exploring this new medium.

To sum up, the liberated feeling of being able to start a painting with NO fear of ruining it (as it can be easily wiped clean and started over) is the most significant revelation to my watercolor career since discovering the glorious textures that salt can create.
As proof of my efforts, here is my very first painting on YUPO paper.  I completely wiped the sky clean one time before being satisfied with the result.  I wiped the bottom layers off twice before being happy with the way the paint moved and dried.  I’m still learning.  Trying new things.  Testing the limits and my abilities and the medium.  Extraordinarily excited for what the future holds.


on 31/08/13
Posted on 08/31 at 06:41 AM
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