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A Yupo paper alternative part 2: Painting a still life

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A Yupo paper alternative part 2: Painting a still life

In a recent post I was showing a technique I really enjoy, it allows you to make regular drawing paper water-resistant and behave a bit like yupo paper. That paper can be used as a yupo paper alternative.

You might also be interested in : An alternative to Yupo paper: Gel medium on regular paper.

This technique has many advantages, first of all yupo paper is not easily available everywhere, and can be a bit costly, secondly painting over your paper with gel medium makes it more resistant and allows you to correct mistakes way more easily when painting with watercolors.

Here is how you can make your own yupo paper alternative:

make your drawing on regular paper

Start by making a drawing on your drawing paper. When I was drawing a figure in the last demonstration, I was focusing more on the areas of light and shade.Here the drawing is very complex with lots of details so I am mostly making a contour drawing.

alternative to yupo paper on regular drawing paper

Keep working on your drawing until you are satisfied with the result.

draw from life

You can draw from life or from a picture, here I brought the flowers to the studio.

acrylic gel medium on top of paper

When your drawing is done, apply a generous amount of liquid gel medium on your paper

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.



Liquitex Acrylic Mediums

Gel mediums are ideal for extending a heavy body paint, to create impasto, relief, or sculptural effects. – Gel Medium, Gloss

spread the gel medium with a soft brush

And spread it with a soft brush. Some brush marks might be visible when the medium has dried, it makes a nice effect as the watercolor will accumulate in those ridges.

 watercolor palette

Let dry and prepare your watercolor palette.

watercolor on top of gel medium

When the gel had time to dry completely, you can start painting with watercolors. You will see that the paint behave a bit like it does on yupo paper.

painting with watercolor over gel medium

Mixing colors wet into wet will give interesting results.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Yarka St. Petersburg Professional Watercolor Pans

Same palette of traditional colors the great masters used a century ago. Liquid-poured means semi-moist pans respond instantly to a wet brush. 24 pans in plastic case. Also individual pans. – Master Set

lift off the paint with a tissue paper

If you make a mistake, just lift off the paint with a tissue paper.

mixing watercolors wet into wet on the paper

Everyone has its own style but I recommend you don’t try to be too exact or too perfect, this technique works well when the style is a bit loose.

add watercolor splatters with your brush

You can add splatters by shaking your brush over the painting.

drips of watercolor over gel medium yupo paper alternative
watercolor over acrylic gel medium

If you need to add details, you can wait for the paint to dry.

adding details to the flowers

And then add the details afterwards.

watercolor flowers still life over gel medium

The finished painting.

Questions? Ask them in the comment section and I will be happy to answer.

5/5 - (3 votes)

Comments (17)

  1. Chrystine

    Does it have to be gloss medium or could it be matte medium too?
    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    1. Thanks Chrystine, yes both matte or gloss medium will work but you will get a somewhat more slippery surface with the gloss medium.

  2. Clau

    Interesant! Ma preocupă pictura cu cerneala pe baza de alcool.
    1. As vrea sa știu dacă peste pânza pe șasiu as putea folosi pouring medium în loc de gesso.
    2. M-ar interesa si un varnish pt izolarea lucrării cu cerneala.

  3. […] You might also like: An alternative to yupo paper: Painting a still life […]

  4. Francine Potters

    Thank you, I am going to try this technique with the gel medium. Love your work.

  5. arebelred95063400

    Thank you for all your demos. Enjoy them very much an often watch more then once. Your work is very interesting n inspiring.

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad you are enjoying the demos!

  6. I have never tried this but it looks interesting especially as a technique to loosen up. Thanks for the excellent demonstration. You are right that yupo is not easy to find! This looks like a good substitute.

    1. Thanks Louise 🙂

  7. bonnie nelms

    what is the brand of liquid gel medium u r using? i find soft gel, heavy gel, extra heavy gel, pumice gel, clear tar gel…all in jars…but no liquid gel in a bottle as shown here. i have been to both golden and liquitex websites and do not find liquid gel medium listed.

    1. I am using the Opus brand gel medium in that demo but any liquid gel would work, I know the brand Steveston also makes one.

  8. Bonnie

    What fixative do u use for watercolor on yupo? I’ve been hesitant to try it but am interested in mounting to board rather than framing. Do u always use fixative on yupo even when framing under glass?

    What wt drawing paper r u using for this? I’ve used gesso on lighter wt paper and it got wavy.

    I always enjoy your tutorials. Thanks for sharing

    1. I like to use Krylon workable fixative on my work:
      Just to be sake I like to spray a layer of fixative even if the work is displayed under frame.
      I am using a mixed media drawing paper, it can sometimes become wavy but I either use a press system or iron the back of the drawing at a very low setting.

      The press system is basically just 2 sheets of pexiglass and a weight (big rock).

      I am glad you like the tutorials 🙂

  9. Adrian

    What a good idea! I can see how using very thin acrylic paints would be fun to try also. A great way to use up some of my drawing paper stash, too! Thanks again for sharing your ideas and exploration. I always look forward to your posts.

    1. Thanks Adrian, yes fluid acrylics or ink would be fun too:)

  10. Gayle Dowell

    Beautiful painting and I love the technique. Do you add a fixative over the watercolor paint after it dries to protect it?

    1. Thanks Gayle. Yes I did spray a bit of fixative as I would do if it was on Yupo paper. I would frame it under glass anyways if I was to display it.

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