“9 Steps to Add Texture to Your Acrylic Paintings with Mulberry Paper” will have you easily creating great texture in your acrylic paintings in no time. Its as simple as attaching mulberry paper (also known as rice paper) to your painting support. I have used mulberry paper to create the texture in “Cosmos Fantasy” and other floral paintings that I have done. The process for creating this look is very simple and works well for florals, landscapes, stormy seascapes or any subject with lots of texture. The following are the 9 steps I follow to create paintings like this:
1. Prepare Canvas. I recommend experimenting on a smaller canvas to begin with (11″ x 14″ or less). I usually purchase primed canvases, but I always add another coat of acrylic gesso as a primer before I use the canvas. Depending on my subject and the mood I am trying to create, I may also paint a thin wash of burnt sienna or Golden’s Quinacridone Burnt Orange (my favourite) acrylic over the entire canvas.
2. Sketch Subject on Canvas. When the gesso/paint layer and colured wash have dried completely, I use chalk to sketch my subject on the canvas. It is so easy to wipe off a shape drawn with chalk and make corrections when I need to. When I am satisfied with my sketch, I trace the drawing using a liner brush and thinned Quinacridone Burnt Orange to set my drawing. The drawing will be slightly darker than the tone already on the canvas. After the paint has dried, wipe the chalk off the canvas with a dry cloth.
3. Paint Underpainting. Paint your underpainting using color that is slightly more intense than you would normally use so it will show through the mulberry paper. The mulberry paper will become transparent after it is mounted to the canvas and has dried, allowing this underpainting to show through. Do not add any details to the painting at this time.
4. Mounting Mulberry Paper. When your underpainting has dried, then you can glue the mulberry paper to the canvas. Cut your mulberry paper large enough to cover the top and sides of your canvas, plus allow an extra inch (2 inches on larger canvases) to allow you extra paper to create wrinkles when you attach the mulberry paper to your canvas.
Using acrylic matt medium and a 1 inch brush, apply a generous coat of matt medium over the top third of your canvas - surface and sides. If your medium is very thick, thin it to a creamy consistency with water. Working quickly, before the medium dries, lay your mulberry paper over the canvas remembering to leave enough paper at the sides and top to cover the edges of your canvas. Immediately apply more medium on top of the mulberry paper covering the area you have just attached to the canvas. Use the brush to gently press the mulberry paper onto the canvas, and create wrinkles in the paper following your design – if you want this effect. Leaving the paper smooth is okay too. The fibers in the Mulberry paper will provide texture. Be sure to attach the mulberry paper to the sides and top of the canvas.
Follow this procedure for the next third of the canvas, making sure that you begin applying the medium to overlap a bit of the first section so you will not have any gaps where the paper is not mounted to the canvas. Follow the same procedure for the final third of the canvas. Note: For an 8″ x 10″ or smaller canvas this procedure can be done in one step.
5. Allow to Dry Completely. After you have made sure the paper is well attached to the surface of the canvas and all sides, allow it to dry completely before continuing to paint – at least overnight. When dry, use scissors or an exacto knife to trim excess paper from the sides of the canvas.
6. Add Transparent Glazes. After the paper has dried onto the canvas, it will become transparent except for the fibers and you will be able to see the underpainting you had previously painted, although the colors may be slightly muted. With the same colors you used in the underpainting, mix thin glazes using mat medium and water (3 to 1 ratio) to thin your paint. In the background area, glaze the same colors used in the underpaintng over your the mulberry paper. If there are areas in your underpainting you feel are too intense, glaze with it’s complementary color to soften the intensity.
7. Paint Subject. Paint in your subject, especially in the area of your focal point, leaving a portion of the glazed painting untouched, especially in the dark areas. Save your thicker opaque colors for the light areas. When the painting is finished, set it aside to dry and to be checked later with a fresh eye.
8. Finish Painting. Check your painting for any adjustments you feel you need to make. Complete the painting by adjusting edges and restating your final highlights and dark accents, if needed. When you are satisfied that no further adjustments are needed to your painting, allow it to dry completely – at least overnight. Several days drying time is better, especially if you used mainly light colors or mixtures with lots of white paint.
9. Varnish Painting. Varnish your painting to protect it from being scratched or marked, and to protect it from harmful UV rays and dust in the environment. I varnish with three light coats of satin varnish applied with a soft brush, allowing the varnish to dry completely between each coat (at least 30 minutes).
This procedure does add several extra steps to the painting process, but the effect is well worth the effort. I enjoy this technique because it adds a bit of variety to my usual painting process. So, when I find my painting time becoming more of a chore than a joy, I search through my floral reference material for a subject that I can paint using the 9 steps to add texture to my acrylic painting with the mulberry paper texturing technique. As an artist, never underestimate the inspiring effect of changing your procedures and techniques occasionally.
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