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My Favorite medium is watercolor painting. I love to use a variety of techniques and papers to keep my work interesting.  Today I will be going through a step by step process for a technique I use with liquid watercolors and rice paper. I adore Eastern style art and much of my inspiration comes from old Japanese paintings and block prints.  To keep with the spirit of the rice paper art, I chose Nature and Pandas for the theme of the piece. This piece is titled “Peaceful Pandas”.

The greatest advantage to this technique is the wonderful texture that appears throughout the painting. It offers a solution for foliage that is both beautiful and simple. I use this technique a lot with smaller subjects on the page to emphasize the importance of the nature around the subject.

Whenever I do a piece like this I make sure to clear my works pace and create a place of peace for myself. My process is just as important to me as the art itself. I usually play music and keep my window open for fresh air. I try to limit myself to five colors (plus black) when I do a painting like this. It helps me to keep the painting from getting muddy looking. It also helps me to plan the painting in a more intuitive fashion rather than meticulously drafting sketches. For this style and technique I only have a vague idea of what I want the end result to look like. The Nature of the technique makes it very difficult to plan exact composition. It’s better to allow the paint to flow and make plans as you go.

You will need a variety of brush sizes. I recommend at least one for small detail and one large for the texture technique.

First I’ll lightly sketch the subject of my painting with a pencil. Be careful, the paper is very fragile and you want to be gentle so you don’t tear it.

Then Paint the details. The paper causes the paint to bleed so use only small amounts of paint on your brush. If your brush is too loaded you will create a lovely unexpected blob that you may regret.

The next step is to crush your painting into a nice little ball as shown here. The first time I attempted this I was terrified at seeing my painting so mangled. Trust me. It all works out in the end. Its best to start the crinkling process in the center of the page with one hand and slowly gather the rest into that one point.

Gently open the rice paper without tearing it. Lay it on the table but don’t flatten it all the way. You need the crumpled texture.

Add details around your subject.

Now you can start on the rest of the painting using this texture technique. Lightly touch your brush to your page and swipe it across the tops of the creases in the paper. This works best with either a dry to mid-dry brush. If the brush is too wet it will seep into the cracks and you will lose your texture.

Fill the space with color using this technique. Try to block out specific areas for the color. If you just swipe all the colors all over each other it looks muddy. If you overlap a color, just stick with two colors in the same space. Keeping it simple will look best.

I then added another layer of details. Simple stripes of color give a decent effect for tree branches/trunks, or in this case bamboo shoots. Don’t be afraid to use a drier brush. The tapering effect at the end adds to texture and depth.

Then I crumpled the paper again to create creases in different places and added more color to give a leafy effect. I brushed darker colors on the bottom to help ground the painting and give it depth.

Thank you so much for checking out this process. If you have any questions about this technique feel free to contact me.

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