Painting on Non-Paper Surfaces: What a Watercolor Artist Needs to Know | Ksenia Annis | Skillshare

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Painting on Non-Paper Surfaces: What a Watercolor Artist Needs to Know

teacher avatar Ksenia Annis, Figurative artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Painting on non-paper surfaces class introduction


    • 2.

      Aquabord vs. watercolor canvas


    • 3.

      Grapes on Aquabord painting demonstration


    • 4.

      Create your own surface


    • 5.

      A short video about Yupo


    • 6.

      Class project and final words


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About This Class

When we think of watercolor, we naturally tend to think of paper as our painting surface. It is the traditional choice, however, there are many other exciting possibilities available to explore. In this mini-class we will talk about some of those many options available on the market. We will review such materials as watercolor canvas, Aquabord, Yupo and we’ll also talk about making virtually any surface suitable for watercolor with products like watercolor grounds. If you are interested in watercolor and would like to expand your creative possibilities and experiment with something new, this class will give you some inspiration!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ksenia Annis

Figurative artist


While in college in Soviet Russia, I was told  that I have no talent for drawing or painting. I  pursued an architectural degree and for about 20 years worked as an architect for various firms in Russia and the US. In 2009, my dream of being a  professional artist overwhelmed the practicality of a stable office job.  Fortunately, Russian architectural training mandates serious study in classical drawing and painting, laying important groundwork for the pursuit of my passion. I dedicated my time to systematic studies at classes, workshops, live model sessions, and regular studio work. In 2014,  I founded my company, Tummy Rubb Studio, and my art became a full time business. I created paintings, illustrations and public art projects. My focus now is on helping oth... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Painting on non-paper surfaces class introduction: When we think of watercolor, we naturally tend to think of paper is our painting surface. It is the traditional choice. However, there are many other exciting possibilities available to explore this days. In this mini class, we will talk about the many options that are available on the market today. Hello, I'm Sania agonists and this is my mini class, painting on non paper surfaces. In this class we will review such options as watercolor canvas on Copart, you Paul. And we will also talk about making virtually any surface suitable for watercolor with products like watercolor grounds. Numpy per surfaces for watercolor provide many advantages. The most obvious one would be their durability and stability during application of water, which watercolor requires plenty of work. Products like a core board don't work and it's easier to remove paint from the surface without any damage, even though these products can be more expensive than paper, money can be saved on framing, most of these products with pre-publication of fixative do not require framing and the glass or can be displayed with no frame at all. Not all art organizations allow paintings on this non paper surfaces to participate in watercolor art shows, but they getting more and more accepted by the community worldwide. In the next video, let's take a closer look at the creative possibilities that the surfaces give us. What artists. 2. Aquabord vs. watercolor canvas: Let's take a closer look at painting on a core board and watercolor canvas before we start painting. And that applies to both of these surfaces. We need to give them a wash of clean water with a brush that releases air bubbles that are trapped in the coating. If you don't do this, when you start painting, those bubbles will start coming up to the surface and it can affect your painting, your painted surface. So it's best to do this in advance with a soft brush, let everything dry, and then start painting. For our cohorts of brush is not essential. You can even stick it under the faucet. It's important to be gentle with watercolor canvas. First of all, don't put it under the tab because it's glued on a piece of cardboard. And also I rubbed it with a damp paper towel and you disturb the fibers. You see my painting turned out a little blotchy. It's like I had this sweater with some pills on it. So just use a soft brush for best results. Before painting, I will, of course, sketch my subject with pencil. I don't have to worry about pencil lines as much as I do on paper because they're easier to erase. The racer will work and it will not disturb the surface. Soft eraser, of course, with I'm always hesitant to use the eraser because it can damage the surface and it can also leave oily residue. With this surfaces. They're very sturdy and we can draw away and not worry about it. Once we start painting with notice the first difference between these two materials. A cobalt surface has very little texture. It's not perfectly smooth, but texture is not pronounced. Also with our cohort, we need to work with transparent layers. If we pick up too much pigment to the passengers will look patch him to achieve smooth paint application and the depth of color, we need to build up layers to apply glazes, which are layers of transparent watercolor. And especially for dark colors, it takes quite a few layers to achieve with dark color. With watercolor canvas, we can work with more saturated brush strokes. You see that I'm taking my pain strike of the wells. I do not dilute them with water on my palette, kind of painting Allah primase. So my goal just one layer and to leave it alone and not touch it again, because it's very easy to lift color off of Canvas. So if you keep applying glazes, there's a high chance of you disturbing underlying layers. With our SCCOE board. We don't have to worry about it. We can remove color from our core board, but it sits on the surface a little better than on Canvas. Right here is a little bit of the painting process to give you a better idea how the surfaces work in how paint behaves on them. In the first video, I mentioned that this surfaces are non absorbent. So if you use to paint in watercolor on paper, working on them will be a little different. Paint will behave differently. But in my opinion, there are great many advantages to working on them. As the differences between a core board and watercolor canvas. I wanted to mention that watercolor canvas only comes as flat panels. It's Canvas glued onto a piece of cardboard. While our core board, it's a piece of masonite primed with a special mixture that 10 percent developed that takes watercolor so they can be flat, which can be a framed later. But they also come as cradled panels, which I love and use a lot in my artwork. You can paint the sides black or some other color and there would be ready to hang. It looks really modern. Those unframed pieces that don't require glass, don't require framing, saves you a lot of cost because framing is expensive. Of course you have to remember to seal the surface with special fixative that's suitable for watercolor. But there are plenty of brands of those on the market, so it's not a problem to find one and to protect your painting with several coats and it will be ready to go on the wall. Lifting paint is easy, both on watercolor canvas and on a cohort, as you see I'm doing now with a stiff brush, giving my grapes those soft highlights. And it's a great relief to Ms. watercolor artist. And now that my surface will not be damaged and I can make corrections without the risk of destroying the surface. 3. Grapes on Aquabord painting demonstration: In this video, I wanted to demonstrate painting this grapes on a core board. It's a great versatile material. And if you wanted to try non paper surfaces, I would recommend try knock of a board for sure. And I just wanted to show you the steps so you'll have a better idea of how the painting process goes. I would start as usual by sketching out my subject with regular pencil. And I mentioned again that I already gave this panel a wash of clean water with a soft brush and let it dry to get the air bubbles out of the coating. Also mentioned in the previous video that I will be working with diluted layers of watercolor to avoid splotchy paint application. So you see, I'm using a big brush that's saturated with water and I'm picking up just a little bit of paint from my wells and I'm applying it to my surface with transparent layers. So we'll gradually built color with glazes until I achieved the situation that I see in the reference photo in that I envisioned in my mind, if you saw my work, you know that I like very bright saturated colors. So it will probably take me quite a few layers to get there. So this was my first layer. I'll let it dry. I didn't draw any details when I started. I drew that bunch of grapes, just the general outline. And now I want to draw the grapes a little bit better so I will know what would have to pay them. You don't have to be super precise, but now it's hard to control watercolors to elect to have a fairly accurate drawing if I'm going for kind of detailed, realistic effect. So it's better to have a good guideline to work on. Okay, let's be the grapes to get this kind of red brown color. I neutralized some red. It's under coronoid red with a little bit of its complimentary sap green, that gives me m, the right brownish red. Or you can use whatever red brown color you have on your palette. And I am going to apply a wash of that color with different intensity all over that bunch of grapes. This is the focal point of my painting. So I want this area to be the most detailed. I cannot go super dark right away like a cannon paper because this is substrate where pain sits on the surface. Some of the grapes are a little more green so I can drop in a little more sap green to get a little column variety him and also can drop in a little more rare than some of them, the ones that are in shadow closer to the bottom, I can see they're a little more red. And you can see here a really well how pain sits on the surface. That's what I mean. So I have to kind of move it with my brush and distributed on the surface and let it dry that way. Okay, so I am going to paint, hold the grapes. And now we can work on the leaves and on the branches, of course. So the same mixture for the branches and also using different shades of yellow to paint some shadows on the leaves and give them some illusion of volume and depth of space in this painting took me longer than usual. I painted for probably a couple hours. Usually I can complete a painting of this size and about an hour maximum, maybe even faster. But because I had to do so much glazing and work in layers, it took a little bit longer, but you will see at the end, I think the resulting painting was really worth it. So pretty limited palette for this painting, I'm using couple shades of yellow coupled blue, sap green, and couple of reds in by varying the amount of those pigments in the mixture that I apply it to my substrate, I can achieve pretty realistic effect and not worry about which pigments exactly I used. I just want you to understand the principle how to work on the substrate paint with the colors that you already have on your palette. This should work fine. The exact colors here on not critical. Okay, The grapes and dry, they're ready for yet another layer. I can continue darkening some spaces between them that I see in the reference photo. And I can also darken. They're more shadows on each little. Great to give them volume. And you see, I am not really saving any whitespace in my painting except in the sky. They're a little bit because it's so easy to lift paint off of our core board would just rub it with a stiff brush so we don't have to worry about the highlights will scratch them in at the end of the painting process. Right? I said the paintings starting to take shape as I increase the contrast, the painting is becoming more and more realistic, three-dimensional. And it's really nice not to have warping because as you know, if you apply watercolor paper, it's going to work unless you use super heavy thick paper, which is very expensive, or you go through a pretty complicated process of stretching your paper and secure in your tour of the drawing board. If you do want to know more about watercolor paper, about types and uses, you can watch my class paper for painting, where I give a bunch of information on watercolor paper selection. I will see some little spots on the leaves that will be also a nice touch. So little splatters. Okay, I am going to add those vines with a really thin brush. I will try to do it kind of calligraphy style without exactly copying the photo, but looking at my painting and deciding what looks best, give it a little more movement and visual interest. And again, a core board accepts all these techniques very easily. It lets my brush glide along the surface, but it's not slippery. And also it lets me use flattering and sprain with water without underlying layers being washed away and without the moving. Okay, the only thing I have left to do is restore the highlights on my grapes, which I'm going to do a small stiff brush, I'm going to scratch them out. I might also dark on the background a little bit. Yet another layer of paint, they're transparent layer in my grapes are ready. Sure Is the final result. Painting with watercolor on a cohort. 4. Create your own surface: Watercolor ground is a modern material that appeared on the market and not long ago, It's similar to Jessup that we all know and use for priming Canvas watercolor ground, as the name tells us, accepts watercolor paint and as manufacturer tells us, that can be applied to any non porous surface in on your screen, you see that I'm priming regular masonite board with white ground. The brand I'm using is Daniel Smith. Then make watercolor ground and several colors. I will show you if you're more alternatives in this video. White can be used to turn any surface, even a dark surface, into white surface suitable for watercolor. The surface you create with watercolor ground will probably have a little bit of texture, more texture then let's say a core board would have that's produced in a manufacturing facility them to make watercolor ground smoother. You can slightly diluted with water up to 10 percent. But I think having more texture can be used to our advantage and give our watercolors a difference. Especially if we're painting abstracts, maybe incorporating iridescent paint, metallics, having more texture on the painting surface in combination with this modern materials look really striking. So here's the painting that I did on Mesa night on white watercolor ground. Another option for watercolor ground is transparent and that gives us endless possibilities. You see, I'm priming a lamp shade with it. Using that material we can paint with watercolor on fabrics, also, different plastics, metal, whatever strikes your fancy him. So here's what I did for this lamp shade. Here's the result. I also tried priming just regular cannabis with transparent watercolor, ground art supplies and craft supplies. Doors very often have really good deals on those. You can buy a pack of three or more very, very inexpensively. I'll have to tell you the pain goes on a little differently. And you will definitely see you the texture of Canvas under your watercolor. But I kind of like this different local, I think it gives a lot of visual interest to the painting in, could be an interesting alternative to just traditional watercolor on paper. I also use it for an interesting experimental technique that I tried in December realist painting. I painted the first layer, then protected it with transparent ground and painted on top of that. And that kept the previous layers from lifting and gave me a very interesting layer defect in my watercolor. A couple pieces of advice when working with watercolor ground, use an old brush or a foam brush. If you forget to wash it, it will dry solid and also have application letter dry as loners manufacturer recommends because as some of the transfers on your good watercolor brush, it can damage it. Keep in mind, it's not water color, it's a polymer material. Gold watercolor ground gives us endless possibilities. You can prime whole surface with it and try painting on top of it. I know there are some really successful landscape paintings that are done this way. In this example, I incorporated it into my watercolor painting. The advantage of using that over acrylics or gold leaf is that I can paint on top of it. So I was able to correct the details in edges and add some more of those black design elements, which are done with watercolor on top of it, because it accepts watercolor very easily. Interesting results could be achieved with that. If you wanted to use black watercolor ground, you could cover the whole sheet and then paint on it so your surface will look something similar to black water color paper that I'm showing right now. Painting a watercolor on black doesn't make sense since it's a transparent medium. White surface gives it its luminosity that to evaluate for. But an opaque medium like glass works really well. So here is another way to add black background to a watercolor painting. You see I'm prepping the piece of cardboard. It's the back cover of a block of watercolor paper that I used up. So I'm prepping my surface with white watercolor ground. Now I'm going to paint on it with watercolors and I will add black background at the very end. So doing something similar that I did with gold on live with black. And then after watercolor ground is dry, I can correct the ages with white goulash and add some details if I needed to. And so the advantage of using black, what are called ground versus would say acrylic or gouache, will be the ability to easily make corrections, including correcting the edges. 5. A short video about Yupo : Hugo is plastic or non-word paper that does not absorb water and has no texture. It's very smooth. Artists opinion and using Yuko for watercolor varies widely. Those who figured out how to paint on it to love it, and the rest, I believe find it impossible to use. The pros of using your pole would be the fact that it's made from recycled materials. It's a 100 percent archival. It's very sturdy and doesn't buckle unless you dry it with a hairdryer. And also the surface can be washed and reused. Many times. I tried UPA only a couple of times, both times I had very little control over my watercolor. My mistakes were touching the surface with my fingers, which left marks where watercolor wants stick at all. I learned later that it's recommended to wear cotton gloves when handling. Lupo also used complementary colors in my first attempt, they ran and mixed together and created mud, also used my usual flattering and sprained with water. These techniques do not work on new poll. For my second attempt to appear down my color palette. So the colors will stay nice and clean when they mixed together. Painted a loose watercolor background, which had then combined with goulash that went on easily and it stayed in place. After this experiments, I would say you bought is definitely worth trying. If you like mixed media techniques, it will work great for watercolor and gouache in combination with markers, inks or similar materials, the collars on it look very bright and clear in your painting will last a long time. 6. Class project and final words: For class project, get to small panels of a core board and watercolor canvas and try painting on them. You can use reference photos that I provided in the class materials or just paint anything you like. Compare the results. Post your work in the project section, and share a few words about your experience with me and other students. If you would like to see some additional tutorials, as well as videos on various watercolor techniques on sketching and acrylics. Please visit them, erupt students channel on YouTube and rumble under, you can find my paintings and sketches, information about classes that I teach in several e-books that are offered for free. I'll be happy to connect with you through social media. Follow them Arab studio on Facebook, instagram, Twitter or Pinterest. And don't forget to tag me if you post your artwork. Thank you so much for taking this class and I'll see you in the next one.