Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pike Place Fish

Here is what I've been working on the past few days.  I took a photo of some sort of fish when we visited Pike Place Market in Seattle a couple years ago, and finally got around to playing with painting him (her?). I'm not even sure what sort of fish I have here, salmon maybe?

At any rate, I wanted to experiment with some Japanese Masa paper that I had been using for monotypes.  I found directions online somewhere, and gave it a go.  Masa paper has a smooth and a rough side.  I did a quick drawing on the smooth side, then crumpled the paper into a ball and soaked it about 20 seconds in the sink.  I have an acrylic sheet that I use for doing prints, so I gently smoothed out the damp paper, smooth drawing side down, onto the sheet.  Then I did some rather light washes on the rough side of the paper.  The paint spreads and seeps into the wrinkles of the paper.  I read that you should place the newly painted paper on some paper toweling and then wait until it dries naturally, usually several hours.  Impatient me used a hair dryer to speed up the process.

When the prepared Masa was dry I got a sheet of 140 lb. watercolor paper ready to use as a support. I used a sheet 16x20 inches, just a little larger than my Masa paper.  Then I got out some Elmers glue, a container of water, and a cheap brush.  I spread glue on the back (rough) side of the Masa, spreading it out evenly with a brush damped with water.  It helps to work from the center out, always brushing toward the edges of the paper.  I do this on scrap paper, like an old telephone book, because it creates less mess.  Then I placed the glue covered sheet on the watercolor paper (drawing side up!), smoothing it out gently first with my damp hands, then with a brayer, to create a good even bond between the Masa and the watercolor paper underneath.  Then I waited more until the two glued sheets dried thoroughly.  I admit I cheated again, speeding up the process with my hair dryer.

After that, the fun began.  I just started painting.  The Masa is quite absorbent. It works best to use a light touch, and let each layer dry before adding another.  If you rub too much the paper begins to pill like a cheap sweater, which isn't real attractive. My paper did pill a little, but when it was dry I was able to brush the pills away with a dry watercolor brush.   I actually went over my original pencil drawing with a little vine charcoal, then began adding watercolor.  I even added a little India ink in the eye and on the fins.

I like how he turned out, complete with his splotches and speckles.  I look forward to using this paper again, though I'll need to think carefully about what subjects would be enhanced by this process.  Landscapes?  Portraits.  We'll see.

I have never seen this paper for sale locally, but I was able to buy a package from Cheap Joes catalog, and I'm sure there are other places to purchase it online.

1 comment:

JoAnn said...

I love this look....but must admit to being totally lost after about step 2 of your process!