Watercolor demonstration- Big Ben painted on YUPO synthetic paper

Months ago I began a series of watercolor paintings on YUPO synthetic paper.  “Synthetic” meaning plastic.

Painting on a plastic surface with watercolor is tough.  The surface takes a long time to dry.  You can layer but with difficulty.  Oil from finger prints creates a resist for paint (run a cloth with a light application of rubbing alcohol over the surface to remove the oil).  However, you can remove the surface paint at any time and get back to the original white of the “paper”.

I began the watercolor painting of Big Ben (Clock Tower) on a “rainbow” surface I prepared months ago.

When I create my YUPO abstract surfaces, I put 3-5 pieces on my kitchen floor, wet the tops of the suface, and proceed to walk around the kitchen throwing paint onto the paper randomly.  Spattering colors into the puddles encourages color mixing.

I mop up puddles that collect too much water with a squirrel mop watercolor brush.  Additionally, I throw salt onto the surface when it has partially dried to develop texture, as well as rubbing alcohol spritzed with a sprayer.  Rubbing alcohol repels the watercolor.

This was the abstract image I began with:

Watercolor painting of Big Ben (Clock Tower) on YUPO synthetic paper

My next step and the most difficult part of painting in this manner is finding the “right” image for the paper.  Once dried, I view the paper from different angles until something comes to mind.

In this case- after many months, I saw a silhouette of Big Ben in London.

I drew the image onto the paper and began painting.

The finished result:

Watercolor painting of Big Ben (Clock Tower) on YUPO synthetic paper

Layering YUPO is difficult because you cannot run your brush over a dried layer more than once.  If you do, you will watch the underlying layer lift off the surface and blend with the colors being painted.

I painted the silhouettes of the background buildings & bridge quickly- lots of water and dark colors.

Big Ben, however, I spent several hours painting.  I tried to introduce the colors of the sky into the iconic tower.

I need to re-photograph the image since all the darks reflect light.  I’ll post the final when I photograph it properly and remove the light reflections.

Happy holidays and email if you have any questions/comments/donations.


Ryan Fox


R. Fox Photo/Arts

R. Fox Watercolors on etsy.com

Fine Art America– canvas, metallic, and fine art prints

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