Splash Inks on Yupo

Welcome to the Niji blog. It’s Quinn McDonald from QuinnCreative, and I’m an experimenter. I’ve always learned more from “I wonder what will happen if. . . .” than from, “let’s do the same thing again and again.” Yupo is a fascinating surface to work on. It’s polypropolene, a plastic that is smooth and non-porous, so working on it creates interesting patterns. Unlike paper, it doesn’t absorb water, so the water you put on the surface has to be absorbed into the air before the piece is dry. Yupo is fun to work with, and Splash Inks are the perfect medium because they blend on the paper as well as on the palette.

Let’s make a abstract tree. In fact, let’s make a whole series of trees. Niji1You’ll need a container of water, two straws (one coffee-stirrer size, one regular straw),  a set of Splash Inks, a palette to mix the inks, a fat paintbrush and a fine paint brush, a dropper and a few sheets of Yupo substrate, which I’ll call “paper” from now on. Cut the sheet of paper  into four pieces, each about 5 x 7 inches. Not shown in this image are the Niji fine writers in size 05. These dry very fast and are waterproof.

Niji3Mix the Splash Inks into a sky blue by adding one drop of magenta to three of blue. Mix green by adding equal amounts of blue and yellow. Mix orange by adding half as much magenta as yellow. In the center of your palette, add black.

Niji2Start by wetting the top 2/3rds of the paper. You can see that the sheet is wet by the reflection. If you look closely, you’ll see that the bottom third of the page is still dry.

niji4Using a fat brush with stiff bristles, like a glue brush, dip it into the blue and then pounce it on the top part of the sheet. Do not add more water.

niji5Blot the blue with a paper towel to pick up some of the ink and to add texture.

Niji6Using the same fat brush, rinse it well, then apply the orange to the bottom of the sheet. There will be some blending. That’s fine. Blot some of the orange with a paper towel. Allow to dry completely. I used a hair dryer to help, but this can take hours. It took so long, that the piece below is a previous background I created and allowed to dry.

niji7Use the dropper or pipette to put two drops of black, one above the other, about two inches from the bottom of the paper. This will become the tree trunk.

niji8Using a straw aimed at the bottom of the drop blow air through the straw in short bursts, pushing the ink up the page.To create small branches, use the smaller-bore straw. Turn the page and blow in a cross-direction to the ink line for fine branches.

niji9You might have to add a bit more ink as you go along. You can also use the small brush to add just a bit of water where you want to create fine-line branches. Allow the water to mix with the ink, or mix it with the brush. Do not make a puddle or the tree will look lumpy. Work the roots of the tree the same way as you did the trunk, but use the large straw. There are fewer fine lines here.

tree3Create the orange leaves of the tree with the fat brush and orange Splash Inks. It may take several layers of drying and adding leaves to get a rich effect. Take your time. This is not a fast job.

To complete the abstract tree, use the fine-liner to outline the trunk and roots to unify the look.

tree2When your autumn tree is done, finish the series by doing one for each season. This one is an early Spring tree, with sunlight shining through the new leaves.

tree1And here is a tree in full summer, when the leaves are an almost blue green. You can pick up some of the paint with a wet cotton swap if you want to expose the white Yupo, or blur some of the effects. Experiment!

Quinn McDonald, one of the Niji Design Team, is a creativity coach and writer, whose new book, The Inner Hero Art Creative Journal is now available from amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, North Light Books, and your local bookstore.

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