I first discovered “paper painting” with samples shown on Pinterest. It was artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire’s work, though, that really caught my eye: so much so, that I quickly ordered a copy of her book, “Painted Paper Art Workshop.” This was unchartered water for me, but I knew my love of collage work would make it a perfect fit. These paintings are a bit challenging, but Elizabeth thoroughly covers materials, techniques and tips to ease any feelings of apprehension. I highly recommend her book, for those getting started with this popular technique. For my mixed-media piece, I used the following materials: Illustration board, Yupo paper, alcohol inks, rubbing alcohol, Golden fluid acrylics, assorted decorative/rice/book papers, Golden regular gel medium (matte), black Pitt artist pen, graphite pencil, Tombow marker, 1mm Stretch Magic cord, small colored beads, Golden Polymer Varnish w/UVLS (matte) and Scotch Super glue.
I cut my piece of illustration board 7″ x 7″, to act as a sturdy base. I took a larger piece of Yupo paper and began applying several colors of alcohol inks and rubbing alcohol, tilting the board to let the colors flow into each other. Once I was satisfied with the back ground, I cut the best section to 7″ x 7″ and adhered it to the illustration board with a light coat of gel medium.
The next step was to start “painting the paper.” I used alcohol ink on the book pages and the brown paper for the tree branch. I painted the rice paper with two different colors of fluid acrylics. Some areas I used the actual color of the paper itself, eliminating the need to paint it. Small pieces of the cording were cut and colored beads were attached to the ends with super glue. I transferred my drawing onto the surface using a graphite pencil and tracing paper. You could free-hand a sketch, but just use that type of pencil…it prevents smearing when glues and varnishes are applied over the top. The key to a successful paper painting is to refrain from using scissors…that’s right–every single piece is hand-torn! This is where it becomes a little tedious, but it adds such great texture and interest to the end product! Using your line drawing as a guide, begin tearing pieces of colored paper shapes and applying them to the surface with gel medium. If you hold your thumbs close together, as you tear the paper, you’ll have more control over it’s size and shape. If you tear the paper toward you, it helps eliminate a white edge. Continue layering the paper pieces on to the surface, making sure to brush the gel medium underneath to glue and over the top of each piece to seal it.
Before outlining with the pen or attaching the stamens of the cherry tree blossoms, apply a coat of the polymer varnish over the entire surface. Even though the Pitt pen is permanent, it tended to smear a little on the sample test piece I did. You’ll be able to write on top of the varnish coat, once it’s dry. In fact, the author stated in her book that she often signs her paintings in just this manner. I added detail to the piece, by outlining the tree and blossoms themselves…this made the branch stand out and the leaves recede into the background. I brushed a light coat of green Tombow marker to each of the stamens, before attaching them to the surface with super glue. This was my first paper painting…but it definitely won’t be my last…try it for yourself!