Yupo paper…. I was introduced to Yupo paper around the end of last year, 2011. A friend of mine had been working with it using watercolors, and I was intrigued by all the 'happy accident" effects he was creating. Working with it the first time I would quickly learn this is what makes Yupo unique. Unlike paper made from trees, Yupo is synthetic and ironically also 'waterproof' as noted by the Yupo company on their website where more insight can be found. It can be a challenging medium to work with, but like any medium it is a matter of practice through repitition of trial and error attaining experience. In the following paragraphs, I have documented a step by step process in one way I am approaching Yupo. I hope the reader can perhaps take even a small part from this and add it to their own creative foundation in expressing their own selves… ultimately making art. enjoy
1)For this demo, I used watercolor paints (cad yellow/veridian/cad red/alizarin crimson/ultramarine) a #12 wc brush, a 9"x 12" sheet of 104lb Yupo paper. I begin with a drawing using a light wash (more water than pigment). I indicate the size and placement of the head on the page, creating a shape for the hair and head, then lay in the features making corrections of proportions before moving on. You can use pencil if more comfortable, just becareful of erasing for the surface is sensitive and may cause areas to not hold watercolor as well if tampered with. I noticed this touching the surface with my fingers, where the oil created a stain that would not absorb water at all. I mass the features in rather than using lines to indicate the actual details of the eye, nose,etc. This is again personal preference, but for a beginner it is always a good foundation to draw as much information as possible in the beginning.
2)Now the drawing is set up, I move on to creating a light source where I focus on the shadow side, as well as local value (dark objects even if not in shadow, in this case the hair). I'm not thinking about color too much, but more on value and am using a green and alizarin crimson mix so far. After laying the shadows in, contrast is created and I can see better if anything looks unproportioned. If so, I would go back and make adjustments before moving on. It is difficult to get a smooth consistency with Yupo, and it can take several layers to get the value/color/consistency desired. I feel the medium demands patience in this way, where you have to wait constantly for layers to dry. Here you can see a few layers of creating the shadows where I'm building the contrast .
3) So far, the process results have not exercised the potential/uniqueness of the Yupo. Whether charcoal on paper, oil on canvas, spraypaint on a wall, etc the building process up to this point would look similar despite the medium. Its simply based on traditional principles of drawing. In this stage where I begin to paint the mid-tones (transition from shadow to light), I begin to explore what the paper has to offer. The happy accidents, spontaneity, looseness. Adding yellow and blue to the pallette, next to the shadows I put layers of colors lighter than the shadows, yet darker than the white of the paper down. I also begin to add more pigment than water when trying to bring more and more color out making the painting more opaque. Here I let the paint work freely as it will creating effects that I could not do in a controlling fashion with my own hand. Some of the shadows get lost and bleed into the light side undesirably such as the cheek area next to the visible ear. The benefit of Yupo is you can ALWAYS erase previous layers of color just using water which you can see I have done in lightening up the mentioned cheek/jaw area with yellow and red. I also lost the eye on the viewers left side, but I can always bring it back. In the second photo of this stage, the head is basically complete after finishing the mid-tones. From here it is a matter of buidling form in the shadows and mid-tones working towards details which has been done in the final stage.
4) In the shadows of the eye, nose, chin I give form using principles of core shadow, reflected light, and cast shadow. On the mid-tone side, I allow more effects to occur trying to intensify the color just keeping in mind not to get to dark as to compete with the shadows, or too light so that there is not enough contrast for the highlights to pop out. Between stages 3 and 4, I work with more feeling so I can't really explain color choices, but I always take time at some point to analayze where the piece is at and bring objective thought into it if the painting is out of control and begins to look like a bowl of soup. You can see this balance of control and lack of it in the end. For the final touch, I take a size 0 round brush with white acrylic to pop tiny highlights in the eye, nose and lip. The painting's complete at this point. Thanks for visiting and if you have any comments/questions please don't hesitate to post on the blog or email me at [email protected]