Thursday, July 12, 2012

Special Technique for Painting on Wrinkled Paper

Here are two paintings I've made during 2012 using crumpled masa paper, watercolor and sumi ink. The artist and poet Sheila Sondik teaches workshops for this technique. (See to see more of her work.)

Dawn Over the Lake
Where Good Swimmers Drown
This year, I've made five or six paintings using this technique. Angela also did a crumpled masa paper and ink painting or two this year. Maybe she'll put hers up. These are approximately 14 by 17 inches. I may post a few more of my paintings here later. If you have any questions about the technique, Angela, Sheila or I can probably answer them. 


  1. These are very nice. Would you be able to send me the instucructions on how to do this?
    My email is


  2. A little while back, I received a question asking how these paintings are prepared. Thanks, David M.

    This style of painting is done using unsized masa paper. It's good to use reference material with high contrast for your painting. To begin, you'll dip the paper in water for 10 to 15 seconds. When you pull it out, let the water drip off, and then wad the paper lightly into a ball. This is where the interesting lines come from. Then you unwad the paper, and lay it out on a surface. Have a rolled up towel handy, and roll it lightly over the paper to blot up the excess water. When the paper loses its glossy, too-wet-to-paint sheen, it's ready for the first layer of paint. Sumi ink is a good medium to start with. The painting will be dried completely between layers, often with a hair dryer. And then dipped into the water again for 10 seconds, wadded up, and then blotted, as before. The either more sumi ink or watercolor can be added. This helps keep the colors fresh and clear. There can be four or five layers, sometimes more, depending on how well the unsized paper is holding together.

    Finally, before the painting is finished, it is attached to another, slightly larger, masa paper with a flour paste. This process helps to flatten out the wadded up paper, and let's the artist add the final details. The pasting down of the painting is important. I may post the details for this at a later date, if requested.

  3. Your info is great, but does the flour paste go mouldy over time and would you seal the painting?
    Many thanks

  4. Flour paste is usually as archival as the paper it is on. Humidity isn't good for watercolor paintings, so keep your artwork dry and out of direct sunlight, and the paper and paste should be fine. This is a good rule-of-thumb for any artwork.