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Who Knew Paper Could Be So Alluring...

Elizabeth Schowachert

One of the best things about spending so much time in Asia is I get this fantastic opportunity to directly experience the culture on a regular basis. One of the most personally satisfying aspects has been the expansion of my art process through the use of new materials and tools, specifically paper, brushes and ink. 

This expansion did not happen quickly, it took time for the materials and experiences to take hold, but when they did, I found new perspectives emerged in my work. At first it felt a little awkward to incorporate new media (paper, ink and Asian calligraphy brushes) other than encaustic, but slowly I got more comfortable, and the materials became friendly partners in a satisfying expansion of my creative process. The painting below is a combination of several techniques and materials. It started as an ink on paper painting (13X27 inch scroll paper), then an encaustic monotype was added, finally the paper was adhered to a cradled birch panel using encaustic medium  (encaustic medium was applied to both sides of the paper using the hot pallet). I also used pigment sticks to highlight colors and increase the light and dark values.

The scroll paper that I used for this  painting is the same as the one shown here. It has a slight grid pattern that is visible on the paper and is a characteristic of almost all handmade paper (at least for the paper made in Taiwan). All the paper I carry is handmade, and is very good quality. Some of it has Asian symbols and gold metallic features, which is typical for Asian scroll papers. Most have a smooth texture and some are a bit transparent, which really works well when working with encaustic medium. Layering can create interesting visual effects, especially if you use ink on some of the layers. I love going to the paper shops and spent a lot of time on my last trip looking for interesting, high quality papers to add to my store (some of what I found is shown below).

The painting shown here,  "Places Within The Heart" is a good example of ink on paper collage, encaustic and metallic Joss paper as the first layer.

Joss paper is inexpensive and works really well for collage applications. In the example above I scraped back the wax so that the paper would maintain its metallic properties. If you leave a thin layer of wax on top, the metallic properties (similar to gold leaf) won't be visible, but if you scrape back the wax, they will be.

With regards to working with ink on paper or with encaustic applications, I also added a good quality ink (this is not top quality which would run above $12 - $30 a bottle, but it is a good product at a great price $4.49) which I have been using and found it works well if you are looking for a strong black liquid ink. This ink is made in Taiwan (not China) and is water soluble. I work with a combination of liquid ink (like the one here) and ink stick, which is traditionally used for Asian calligraphy painting. I just added a large size handmade ink stick as well (also shown below $19.99 each) that is made in Taiwan. If you are looking for more subtle greys, than ink stick is the way to go. 

Finally, I just added a large size handmade paper that would be great for those of you that are doing monotypes. It is 27 X 53 inches, and is a good quality paper. I was excited to be able to add it to my store, along with all of the various scroll papers. To me they are exciting, and beautiful...

I hope to get some time in the studio this weekend...I am anxious to try out some of the paper I brought back. 

Happy Creating to you!!



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  • Donna Dion on

    I love this technique and I love your work :)


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