1. Synthetic paper: Right out of the gate, I'll say that this is not YUPO paper. As a product, YUPO is to paper what Kleenex is to tissue. I use a custom cut, commercial grade synthetic paper that is very thick, heavy weighted and will stand up to the rigours of frequent washing for many, many years. Synthetic paper was invented by the Japanese print industry to meet a demand for a durable and bright white printing surface that would hold colour and take a lot of environmental stress while remaining bright. The surface is completely non-porous and the medium is worked and manipulated through water, gravity and the geologic reactions of Daniel Smith ground mineral based watercolour paints.
2. About the paint: I primarily use Daniel Smith Extra Fine and Primatek series paints. Using water as the vehicle to manipulate the effects, I combine various paints and explore the mineral reactions. The paint quality is second to none and fascinating to use. I encourage students of this medium to keep your camera handy and take photos of the remarkable mineral reactions that are happening just beneath the surface of the water as you work.
Hands down, the paints are an investment. I suggest in the beginning, to purchase the "dot palette" at the local fine art supply store and experiment with it for a while to see if you want to invest the time and money into a collection. I've had many tubes for over 6 years with no degridation whatsoever. You can sometimes find 5ml tubes that give you a bit more versatility than the dot palettes if you feel you want to step up to a greater level of commitment. 15ml tubes can range from $15.00 - $45.00 per tube, but remember it takes very little paint to make a big reaction on the page. The image featured next to the paint tubes is approximately 1x2" of a larger piece of work. Keep your camera handy!
3. About the discovery: I discovered DS paints at an art school fair a while ago and fell in love with the effects. At the same time I discovered alcohol inks and synthetic paper and fell in love with that too. After spending nearly $200.00 of money I didn't have, I took home 2 new passions and set out discovering what I could do with them.
One evening I had them both on the table and made the decision to combine the DS watercolour paints that I was so excited to try, with the synthetic paper that I was so excited to try. I was hooked on the incredible display of highly reactive and beautiful effects that showed up time after time and without fail. What was this magic?
I thought there must be someone else doing this and I set out to learn from them. After 3 months of searching the internet and speaking with numerous artists from around the world, I could find nothing about this medium. That's not to say someone else hadn't discovered this technique - I just couldn't find them.
It was too much fun to keep it all to myself, so I began teaching this style of painting 3 years ago.
4. Where can I buy these paints and paper? Daniel Smith paints are available at any fine art store or online. The paper can be purchased right here on this website under "Art Supplies". The quality and price of my paper can't be matched by box stores because I'm all about ensuring people have what they need to learn and explore without breaking the bank. The paints are expensive enough, the paper shouldn't be. And it's re-useable without losing integrity for many many years so the investment is minimal.
5. What brushes are best for this work?
Despite having about 30 brushes, all of which get used for various effects, I primarily use "liners" or "riggers" to move the water and paint. This delicate brush allows me to move the paint along the surface of the water much more easily than larger, thicker brushes. I also frequently use several sizes of "round" brushes and if you're working on larger pieces, it never hurts to have a good mop handy for those large water loads. Brushes can be found at any fine art store or online. You do not need to spend a lot of money on your brushes to achieve excellent results.
6. How do you stabilize the painting when it's finished?
The finished painting will remain vulnerable to scratches and etches that will remove some of the paint from the surface. You are working on a surface that is 100% impermeable so nothing absorbs into the paper.
Once a painting is complete, it should be left somewhere to "cure" for a day or two. This allows all water to evaporate and the paint to set well. From there, you would use a watercolour spray varnish to seal the paper and trap the paint in place. It will remain vulnerable but can now be easily handled without worry of scratching the surface and altering the painting.
...more to come...