Collage: watercolor dyed paper

It is summer in the islands and the air is weighted with humidity while the trade winds are barely a whisper on the skin. So for the next week or two, watercolor and collage will be my mode of transportation for the creative journey. With the air being fairly still, I can leave my papers out and not worry about having a paper chase every time a breeze wanders through the opened windows. On the other hand, with this sticky weather, I have to be careful not to brush up against a stack of torn paper bits or I might become a walking piñata.

The fact is I love paper. Always have. From store bought papers to found bits and scraps of plain, printed, textured, and or tinted ephemera that we come across in life’s journey.

Small variety of collage papers

Small variety of collage papers

Whether a delicately textured rice paper, or a sheet of elegant Chiyogami paper, even the pretty little postage stamp on yesterday’s mail, all are like little treasures, and with collage, most of these will wind up being torn, crumpled, painted and glued to make more little treasures.

Over the years, the paper I get the most use from are those that I can tint or ‘dye’ with watercolors. Most often these are ‘found’ papers, particularly plain tissue paper or other light weight papers used for stuffing or wrapping commercial purchases.

My process of dyeing the papers is varied, but all are fun and carefree. Unless I am after a particular color scheme, it is a go with the flow kind of thing which is great and therapeutic in helping to shake off the stresses of the day. During these sessions I just lay the papers out on a backing board, sometimes in a single layer and other times overlapping up to 3 layers depending on the thickness of the paper. It all becomes a mad experiment on color mingling and intensity with no worries about making a mistake.

Under-painting from dyeing collage paper

Under-painting from dyeing collage paper

Periodically I will place the papers on a sheet of 140# cold press Arches watercolor paper and approach it as I would an under-painting. I will do several at a time and it is always exciting peeling off the dried paper and seeing what lies beneath.

Examining the remaining imprint, often a textured looking under-painting, frees the imagination to run loose and come up with painting ideas. I also use this method with my sketchbook, tearing smaller sized papers and using random colors on various pages.

Subtle pops of color

Subtle pops of color

Later when I am doing actual daily sketches, coming across one of these pages can not only inspire a drawing, but perks up the visual senses with their subtle pops of color.

Keeping a few plain papers on hand also helps when I want to clean out color wells to make room for fresher paint or to make use of the remaining puddles of paint in my pallet’s mixing area. Instead of wiping up the sometimes large mixed color puddles with a tissue and throwing it out, I can dye a few papers, and often times these interesting color blends really make a difference when used later in collages or other projects.

Looking at the  papers now strewn across the work table, landscapes come to mind. Cool landscapes with a water feature, a good destination during these overly warm summer days.

Paper landscapes

Paper landscapes

First I need to gather up the papers I will be using, maybe a glass of iced water, and then we can get started.


2 thoughts on “Collage: watercolor dyed paper

  1. pinkymolinda says:

    You know, I love paper too: the colors, the textures and the weight. I still steal nice wrapping paper at Xmas time. The art and stationary stores are my favorite places to go for paper, as I can get the cotton, handmade, silk, vellum, drawing, printing and watercolor paper. Goldmine!

    I know people who rip up paper and use it as you do, to dye an underlying strata (the Arches cold press sheet). The only thing different that they do, is that they use each piece like a tile in a mosaic. They can get very elaborate depending on your title size and your paper size. Some that I have seen have literally taken my breath away.

    Yours are almost impressionistic. Clearly abstract, as an underlayment, I would love to see your artwork on top of one. Very nice. I will check back and see how you are getting along.

    Just an idea, but Amazon has these $24 leather journals. If you were to do your dying process to the end papers (inside cover, inside back), they would look and feel like a new product. You could even do a numbered series. That way people would feel special. I don’t know whether that’s something you want to do, or not, but I would think about it seriously.

    It was great to have discovered your blog. All My Best, Melinda

    Liked by 1 person

    • artandmoondreams says:

      Thank you for the visit and your kind words. It is a pleasure to meet a kindred spirit when it comes to collecting paper. I too have seen collage works that leave me speechless. From torn, cut and seemingly magical manipulations, it is a never ending delight to see how people express their creative ideas with paper.
      Love your idea about using the dying process on the end papers to a journal. Though I use it often in my sketchbooks and on written correspondence, I sense that my personal journals will become more personal soon with tinted end papers, (and maybe some pages in between). Thank you for sharing. Peace, Haunani


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