The Slippery Surface of Yupo

Yupo® is a polypropylene synthetic paper. It has a smooth white surface, is semi-opaque, and makes a very interesting sheet for watercolor, ink and acrylics.

There are pros and cons. Because it is non-absorbent (read: waterproof), whatever you use on it has to dry by evaporation into the air (instead of absorbing into the fiber).

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In the photo above, you can see the light reflecting on a piece of wet Yupo®. Look closely, and you’ll see that only the top 2/3 of the page is wet. If you leave the page flat, the water doesn’t drift.

Color skates along the surface, and blending goes a long way. You’ll probably need less acrylic, ink, or watercolor.

Acrylic paint: sap green, blue, fine gold on Yupo.

Acrylic paint: sap green, blue, fine gold monoprinted on Yupo.

Because I’m a designer for Niji art products, I decided to give Splash Inks a try on Yupo®.

Splash Inks on Yupo®

Splash Inks on Yupo®

First, I tried simply putting the inks on the surface, spritzing it with water and tilting it. Interesting effect. When the inks dry, they cannot be scrubbed off with a paper towel and water. They will lift off with a paper towel and alcohol and some scrubbing, but a faint image will remain. Makes a nice ghost print.

niji9But I wanted to create an abstracted image, so I put down a blue wash on the top of the page, and an orange-brown wash on the bottom. I allowed it to dry thoroughly–about an hour in Phoenix. Then I dropped Splash black ink (two drops, about an inch apart) on the page, and used a straw to create a tree trunk. I blue the drops up until I had interesting lines, then used a coffee-stirrer-size straw to blow across the lines and create offshoots. (For more detailed instructions and photos, read the tutorial on Splash Inks on Yupo)

tree3I then mixed up some bright orange ink (I free-mix, but there are instructions for colors with the inks), and using a stiffer glue brush, pounced the brush on the surface, creating the illusion of autumn leaves. And the tree was done.

Full instructions for this tree and two more are on the Niji blog for January 3, 2014.

—Quinn McDonald is delighted to have been invited as a guest instructor at the Minneapolis Book Arts Center this April. She will be teaching Mind Over Chatter, a journaling class with Gelli plates.

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Niji Design Team

It was a lot of fun to demonstrate Splash Inks in all five locations of Arizona Art Supply. Doing demos gives you direct exposure to the audience that wants to know about the product. And I was thrilled beyond belief when I was chosen to be on the first-ever design team for Niji–the company that makes Splash Inks.

The box with contents hidden. You can tell I live in the desert by the xeriscaping.

The box with contents hidden. You can tell I live in the desert by the xeriscaping.

And the box of goodies arrived this week! Inks, watercolor paints, papers. The paints are Asian formulations, so they are not the transparent watercolor, they are more opaque, like gouache. I can’t wait to start up and experiment. The Splash Inks are a lot of fun all on their own.

I rarely post my artwork here–as any more than side illustrations. But now, those ideas for Niji will appear on the Niji blog as well as here. Of course, the second I think that, the Inner Critic shows up with a truck full of relatives and unpacks the picnic lunch of worms and crow. Sigh.

But I’ll be sharing them here. It’s time to show that, as a creativity coach , I work on creative projects steadily: journals, art journals, collage, alternative journals. You’ll be seeing more tutorials, too.

Surface decorated papers that will be re-worked into the cover of this recycled book.

Surface decorated papers that will be re-worked into the cover of this recycled book.

I’ve developed some new in-person art classes and will be showing results and class photos. My proudest recent moment is that Madeline Island School of Arts has invited me back–for June, 2014. I hope to see some of you there this coming summer. We’re going to. . . well, that’s for another post. With photos of  art sample art work that each class participant will create their own version of. It’s starting to be an exciting New Year!

–Quinn McDonald loves surface design and is including letterforms and colors into art journal pages.

Splash Ink: New Product

This isn’t a review, because I haven’t had these inks long enough to do anything except make a few basic mixes. But with a weekend coming up, there is the possibility you may want to try them, too.

colorbottlesI went out to buy ink today, because most of my work is done with ink, watercolor paints and pencils. I had gotten a flyer from Arizona Art Supply mentioning that there would be a demo of the new Splash Inks, and it had piqued my interest.

Here’s the premise: Splash Inks come in only four colors–the same four colors that printers use to make hundreds of colors by mixing them in different amounts or different size dots. You may know the colors as CMYK–Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. The K is used to prevent confusion with B for blue, which is called cyan. (Did you take notes? No matter. Read on!)

colorgreenThe inks are acrylics, and only slightly thicker than ink. They mix incredibly well, and can be used in waterbrushes and in calligraphy pens. (I haven’t tried that yet).  I played around with the yellow and blue to make various shades of green, turquoise, and jades. The more water you add, the more transparent the colors become.

Splash ink was developed by Karen Elaine Thomas  for Niji and is distributed by Yasutomo.

colorhowtoThe packaging comes with a mixing chart for landscapes, portraits and more. The colors are measured in drops (the bottle tops are designed for this) and water is added to lighten colors and make them transparent. It’s hard not to like the idea.

I’ve tried the most basic mixing with good results. While you are supposed to used these inks on watercolor paper, I think coated stock or Yupo will give a clearer color and less fast absorption, which made it a bit harder for me to mix. This is not a disappointment, it’s simply a new technique and needs some practice.  I have fallen in love with the colors you can make, though.

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Karen Elaine was at the Mesa (AZ) stamp show, and demo’d an interesting technique using rubber stamps. There is something appealing about resists, and she used it in that way.

I’m eager to try working with these inks. They seem to be versatile and I want to explore them.

Disclosure: I paid for the inks and am not receiving any compensation from anyone to post this blog.

—Quinn McDonald uses ink to work on journal pages.