Aqueous 2013- Pittsburgh Watercolor Society

My modest goal for 2013 was to exceed the # of juried watercolor shows I was in last year.

2012 was the first year I entered watercolor exhibitions.  I was accepted in 3 competitions-  The Adirondack National Exhibition of American Watercolor, Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, and The Watercolor Society of North Carolina shows.

I accomplished my goal this year when my watercolor painting The Ballerina was accepted in this years Pittsburgh Watercolor Society Aqueous 2013, my 4th acceptance.  Juried by the amazing watercolor artist Frank Webb, I was humbled.

Watercolor painting of ballerina

The Ballerina, who coincidentally is my sister-in-law Annette Barcelona, was the first painting I have done in many ways- 1st portrait, and first completely free-hand painting on YUPO synthetic paper.

Synthetic paper?  That’s aka for plastic.

YUPO is a surface that watercolor artists have begun to utilize recently.  It is great because it exaggerates the fluid qualities of watercolor.   Nothing dries.  It does dry- but it takes hours (sometimes).  Best of all, if you don’t like something you can remove it (unlike watercolor paper).

Several notes about watercolor for anyone crazy enough to paint on plastic:

1.  Paper towels make great texture.  Let the watercolor dry, gently mist the area with a spray bottle, lay the paper towel down and let it absorb a little paint.  Do not be too heavy handed with this though as you could pull all the underlying layer off.

2.  Salt and rubbing alcohol give cool effects on YUPO, just as they do with watercolor paper.  The difference however, is when to apply it.   Rubbing alcohol works immediately.  Salt requires more patience and you need to time it when the paint is almost dry

3.  Sedimentary colors look super grainy on YUPO.  Throw the colors on when it is wet and watch the color grains of the color appear as they sink to the surface of the paper.

4.  It’s not an exact science, but you CAN layer on YUPO.   Remember, there is no sizing on the paper.  If you brush over the same area twice- don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My layering on YUPO formula:

Hard bristle brushes- forget about it.  They will automatically remove the surface layer.

Mop brushes-  lots of water and a little color.  Apply the color fast and don’t backtrack.  Leave the painting and go watch the entire series of LOST on netflix before returning: wondering why Hurley never lost any weight.

THE other brushes work great too.  I wish I could tell you what brush number, make and manufacturer these are, but I have used them enough that the paint has fallen off of the handles and all I am left with is exposed & rotting wood.  🙁

To make this story even better, I received the postcard for the show, and guess what painting is featured on the front?


The Ballerina will be displayed October 5-26th at the 3rd St. Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA.


Ryan Fox

Etsy Shop

(919) 645-8345




1 Responses to Aqueous 2013- Pittsburgh Watercolor Society

  1. Angela Fehr says:

    Saw your Zurich painting on facebook and stampeded over to your blog to learn your YUPO tricks. It’s not really my thing but a friend of mine loves painting on YUPO and will appreciate it. I get frustrated enough with drying times on my Arches paper, even if I do call it my “pondering” time. Thanks for sharing! Congratulations on the invite cover, as well!

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