Wet Media on Washi

Acrylic  ·  Ink  ·  Watercolor  ·  Gouache  ·  Marker  ·  Silkscreen 

Japanese papers are so marvelously receptive to wet media that just about any of them can be used for painting. The varying results achieved with using different paper and media can make it difficult to choose. What follows here are notes on some of washi's characteristics and how you can use them to good effect

Tips and Things to Consider

· transparent media such as watercolor, artist inks, fabric dyes, natural dyes etc. allow the lively surface of the paper to show through the colour

· opaque media such as acrylics, gouache & other tempera paints, sumi ink, India ink etc. are best suited for styles of painting that don’t obscure the entire surface

· most washi is unsized: color is easily absorbed into the fibers of the paper

· if paper bleeds through to the work surface – think about using a second layer of washi to pick up a "ghost" of your marks to use for other compositions

· on thinner papers as well as unsized ones color usually goes right through to the back of the sheet: consider turning your sheet over and working on the back for different effects

· to halt bleeding or soak up excess color blot with another piece of washi – the offset can be lovely: this works especially well with fabric paints, and using an iron on top of the blotter can hasten absorption

· some sized papers exist which will not bleed or soak through the back (see paper suggestions below)

· on thicker papers the color soaking into the surface has a different kind of depth as you see the colour through layers of fibre.

· if the surface of your chosen paper bleeds too much consider sizing the surface yourself with gelatin, animal skin glue, konnyaku or even gesso

· gampi papers will shrink where they have been wet: annoying puckering or exciting textural effect (thinner = more shrinkage)

Paper Suggestions

All washi will take wet media, what vary are the results you get; to arrive at one that works for you try your favorite medium with different papers.
Alternatively try different media with the same paper

sized papers bleed so much and color will sit more on the surface
Kizuki Kozo  ·  Handmade
Kozuke  ·  Machine made

Cost effective more absorbent papers that soak up color with a soft effect
Kiraku Kozo
Usu Kuchi

High quality washi with excellent working properties – all are consistent favorites
with all who try them
Seichosen Kozo
Kurotani No. 3
Kurotani No. 4

Cost effective and has a strong grain – so shrinks much more in one direction than the other
Gampi Silk Tissue

Artist Using Wet Media on Washi

Dominque Prévost

Lorraine Pritchard

Image provided by The Japanese Paper Place  ·  Artist Ólöf Björk Bragadóttir  ·  There is no beginning  ·  Watercolour and ink on kozo washi

All information provided by The Japanese Paper Place
Reproduction by permission only