A Signature Evening

Saturday, September 22nd was a very busy day! Not only did I teach my first workshop on painting watercolor on yupo, but I attended the Reception & Awards for the 49th Annual 2012 Southwestern Watercolor Society Members Exhibition. The reception was held in the spacious entry hall and gallery of pFAMILY Arts, a community arts facility in Plano. My husband Bob and friends Barbara, Sky, Emmy and Byron accompanied me.

That evening I received my Signature Membership in the Society. Signature status is awarded to those SWS members who have had five paintings juried into the annual SWS show (or in the annual Western Federation show). The honor allows me to place the letters SWS after my name when I sign my paintings, plus I have a sterling silver SWS pendant to wear. It only took me about seven years to achieve this, so I am celebrating!

The fifth and final painting that earned me the honor is “Evanescence”, which is on display through Oct. 19. It is an abstract acrylic painting on yupo that utilizes the alcohol technique for texturing. SWS accepts all forms of watermedia painting into their shows, including traditional watercolor, acrylic, gouache, casein, inks etc. Also collage is accepted, if it is artist-painted paper — my 2011 painting was acrylic collage. The support must be paper, but yupo (plastic paper) was added a few years as an option.

All in all, 2012 was a great watercolor year for me. In January I also earned my Signature in the Society of Watercolor Artists (SWA), a Fort-Worth group that is the sister organization to SWS. Both came from the split of the original North Texas Watercolor Society in 1963.

I’d like to convey my thanks and gratitude to the officers and volunteers (especially the exhibition committees) of both societies for all their efforts that have allowed me to exhibit my artwork and achieve these honors.

Watercolor on Yupo Workshop initial run

Last Saturday (Sept. 22) I gave a mini-workshop on painting in watercolor on yupo for a small group of crafters called Articrafters, which meets at the Eclectic Expressions Gallery in Arlington. The year before I gave a workshop for them on Suminagashi, the Japanese art of marbling paper with inks on water. That became a springboard for me to give art demos and mini-workshops on Suminagashi all over the Metroplex, so I am hoping to translate this latest experiment into the same opportunities.

Yupo is a plastic paper used commercially for printing signage and labels on products. Artists have now adopted it, and it’s both a joy and a challenge to paint on. It’s fantastic for texturing in creative ways, but difficult to paint layers since watercolor lifts easily. Here’s an explanation I compiled:

Yupo: made of polypropylene, smooth, brilliant white, ph-neutral, non-buckling, non-absorbent, no need to stretch, durable, 100% recyclable (#5), with superior ink adhesion for printing. Comes in three weights for artists: heavy (144 lb.), medium (74 lb.) and light (68 lb.). Available in white sheets (20×26,  26×40, 23×25-light only), rolls and pads. A translucent 23×25 sheet is also available in 3 weights. Suppliers: local: Asel’s Art Supply; online: Dick Blick, Jerry’s Artarama; Daniel Smith; Cheap Joe’s; Amazon;  etc. Made by Yupo America (http://www.yupousa.com ). Best videos are those by George James (http://www.georgejameswatercolor.com/) – I took a SWS workshop from George and he’s developed the most creative techniques. Click here for a handout on Yupo: Tips on Yupo Painting

I prepped for the workshop by doing some small paintings and devising some simple exercises. At least I thought they were simple, but the first (“Wipe-Out Roses”) turned out to be more difficult to follow than I thought. It involved both positive and negative painting — painting a medium value layer of watercolor for the background and using spritzing, rollering and facial tissue for texture. Then lifting out light leaf and floral shapes with a brush while still wet. Next I painted directly rose shapes and leaves in brighter and darker color. Then I lifted out petal lines in the roses. Here’s one of the demo paintings:


“Rose Trio” 2012 watercolor on yupo Sharon Giles

The second exercise (“Negative Shape Painting”) involved applying three or four colors of watercolor paint in your choice of ways, then texturing it. Then creating a positive shape by painting or subtracting a background (Yupo allows you to lift back to almost white.) Here are a couple of samples that I did to illustrate it:


“Black-Eyed Blazes” 2012 watercolor on yupo Sharon Giles


“Cotton Candy Trees” 2012 watercolor on yupo Sharon Giles

A couple of artists actually had time to try the third exercise “Abstract Stamping & Texturing.” For this, I divided the paper into a nine-square grid and applied different types of texturing to make a pleasing composition. I gave them a choice of nineteen methods to try!