The Magic of Masa


While scrolling through Pintrest the other day, I noticed a picture of an entire journal made with Masa Paper, and it was fabulous!  It got me thinking about all the things that could be done with this versatile  paper, and how it could be incorporated into my blog?  The artist that had created this wonderful journal was Helen Shafer Garcia, a local artist I have taken many classes with, and have much respect for.   If you’re not familiar with her work, my suggestion is to Google her.  Helen’s work is genuinely  unique, and she has many things she loves to create, and is quite good at them all!

In the past I have loved Masa Paper so much, at one time I ordered twenty or thirty sheets of it to paper my dining room wall with. One thing led to another, and that project never was started.  So now I have Masa Paper coming out my ears!  The projects that have been completed are small, and I still have a considerable amount of paper remaining.  The back of my mind holds a spot where subconsciously, the thought is always there trying to come up with new ways to use the Masa paper I have way too much of.  My artist sisters, and I joke about someday when we are gone, leaving instructions to open  our studios to our art friends so they can scrounge whatever they see for themselves.  Personally, I think this is a fabulous idea because my sisters are all mixed media artists that have the same philosophy as myself, and who else would know what to do with all the supplies, and treasures we have collected over the years?

One of the  things I learned in Helen’s class was to cut a piece of Masa Paper the size of your canvas, soak it in water, crumple it up good, and place it on the canvas-covered with gel medium.  As the wrinkled paper gets placed on the canvas, it’s impossible to flatten smoothly, but as long as the air bubbles are flattened out you’re ok.  This is a good thing!   The object is not to smooth it out, but to have wrinkles here and there, it’s part of the character of the artwork.    The paper is quite delicate, so handle it gently.  This is a technique that eliminates the possibility of realism, for those of you who fight that!  I myself am a recovering perfectionist, and constantly fight the urge to produce something that looks like a photo. That’s  what cameras are for isn’t it?   This is  probably why my artwork is on the wonky side, and intentionally imperfect!

After the paper has had time to dry, probably over night, look at the canvas from all angles, let the texture, and pattern of the wrinkled paper speak to you.  What does it say?  Can you see branches, or curved lines?  That usually determines what it will be.  Using the suggestion of line to decide on the subject matter, start lightly sketching in pencil on top of the wrinkled paper.   Once you have completed one of these canvases, you will get better  at manipulating the Masa paper into particular shapes, enabling you to plan your work a little more precisely.  It helps to lightly sketch your subject onto the Masa Paper using the lines to guide you.  I then use water colors to create my painting, sometimes even Inktense pencils, and a tiny bit of water to move it around. The important thing to realize is, that with watercolor on moist  paper, there will always be  some bleeding of colors, so go easy on the intensity at first, the colors can always be built up!  Finally if you like the look, you can outline everything in a fine pen.  Embellishing the edges or surface with stamps, words, or whatever you can think of to finish off your one of your one of a  kind art piece.  I have posted three examples that I finished recently, and although they  wont  be  considered Fine Art, they will

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be considered  Mixed Media art,  created by a Mixed Media Artist, and what a fun way to create!

A Penny for Your Thoughts...

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