Art on Paper- What’s not to love?

I enjoy working in a variety of media and surfaces, including sketchbooks. I often combine drawing and painting (you can read one of my studio chats about this here).  In many respects, drawing is my first love!  So it is probably no surprise that I love to create art on paper!  However, over the last year or so, I have mainly created finished works on wood: cradle panel or ply.   To an extent, I had moved away from work on paper.  But in the spirit of what I call –‘All that you can’t leave behind’ I have recently returned to it.  Whilst I enjoy layering materials onto boards and the evolutionary nature of it. I also love the fresh, spontaneous works on paper. 

A new series of artworks on paper

I am currently developing a series of small works on 100% cotton hot press watercolour paper. The pieces are inspired by aspects of Moorland, valleys and woodland in Saddleworth in the North West of the UK.  

Indigo moors series, Abstract Landscape, Moody Blues,
‘Moody Blues’ The first of a series of works on paper

I’m using a combination of indigo, charcoal and acrylic inks.  The indigo is an ancient drawing material from Wallace Seymour. It can be supplied via Janette Phillips who also has a ½ day online workshop using this special material.  It has a wonderfully powdery, grainy, texture ideal for landscape.  I can push it into the paper to create all manner of marks and shapes. It is also soluble in water, adding to its versatility. The compressed charcoal in contrast has a rich velvety feel. It allows for the darkest darks, combining beautifully with the indigo, creating both smudgy and delicate lines. The inks add another dimension again and have a contrasting vibrancy and transparency. The inks have been invaluable in reflecting the heather on the moors and the foliage in the woods. I’ve been mixing inks to create the colours I desire. Check out my Instagram to see more of my ongoing results and work with these media.

Art on paper  indigo, charcoal and ink works

Working on paper again has reminded me of the variety of surfaces we can use as a substrate. There are a large number of paper surfaces :rough, smooth, textured, absorbent, coated etc.  The approach has also reconnected me with natural materials and their interesting properties.   This type of exploration is invaluable for creating works that reflect my feelings about the character of these places and their corresponding marks.

Advantages of art on paper

For me, there are a number of key advantages of creating art on paper:

  1. Paper enables spontaneity and gives immediacy and energy to the mark making. This is similar to the ethos of working in sketchbooks.  It feels right for investigative works!
  2. The paper plays a part in how the media behaves (rather than being an inert substrate).  The paper can influence the way the media glides across or sits on the surface. Or it can affect the way media soaks into the surface.
  3. The qualities of the paper form part of the visual richness of the works. Whether it’s a rough texture or graininess or a velvety smoothness that contrasts with the media.
  4. Paper can feel less precious than other supports. Perhaps because it is more disposable?  But conversely, it is also feels more delicate.  This apparent contradiction appeals!
  5. Paper is easier to use out on location than boards and canvas.    Paper will usually dry quicker and be more easily transported.  Therefore, these finished works can be created Plein Air as a direct response to my experience.

Nothing is perfect, and often the paper will need to be framed behind glass for protection.   I will still create a lot of my paintings on board and canvas. Combining that approach with works on paper is something that resonates with my way of working.

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Do you create works on paper?  What do you love about the surfaces you work on?   I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading and stay safe and well x