Treated Paper Workshop

I recently experienced three days of the most challenging painting lessons of my artistic life! Kay Barnes taught an intense Treated Paper Workshop for intermediate level watercolor artists. It entailed vigorous exercises that stretched me until I was exhausted! Wow, what a wonderful workout!

Waterfall Stage 1

After treating hot press paper with an acrylic blend I applied watercolor on the paper with a brush and a general idea of the white area for the waterfall. Since watercolor paints don’t absorb into acrylic, I was able to tip the painting in various directions and watch amazing things happen as the paint flowed on it’s own!  The veins are the areas where the paint made it’s own streams. Waterfall Stage 1 was the result of day one of the workshop.

Waterfall Stage 2

This technique causes heavy granulation so it lends itself well to rock paintings. Since the paint sits on the surface I was able to manipulate it, carving away the paint to my liking…well somewhat. The paint reacts with the surface, water misting, and other colors, and therefore it’s constantly changing until it dries! Waterfall Stage 2 was the result of day two. It’s not complete yet, several refinements, (like details on the water) are needed. At one point this painting looked like a pile of potatoes, so I’m glad I was able to get it to this rock stage! LOL!

Floral Stage 1

To paint flowers with this technique there was less tilting, and light misting instead to get the paint to move. This time I worked from the reference of a photograph of flowers that I took at Buchart Gardens in Canada. At one point I misted too much and ended up with fuzzy blobs of color! I set that painting aside to use another day as an under-painting and then started over on a new painting. Floral Stage 1 is the point at which I waited for the painting to dry before moving forward to the carving stage.

I went into this class hoping to expand my watercolor knowledge and to reach farther than I’d ever gone in painting. I gained both. I think it’s great for an artist to learn both extremes of  learning styles from very controlled to free form. Then the artist can pull from both skills and tailor make their own style. I am naturally an artist who likes to be in control and so this workshop took me to places where, at times I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and what was going to happen to my painting. It was quite a humbling experience for a seasoned artist! There was plenty of learning to let go and allow myself the freedom to experiment and go with the flow and see what happens. The key was being okay with the results, no matter what that was, and also stretching my imagination to see new possibilities form before my eyes. Phew! It was hard work and exciting at the same time!!

Floral Stage 2

Kay taught us how to use brushes, tissue, paper towel and fingers to carve out the paint where we wanted highlights and details. Notice that I softened the background blue flowers at the top and misted away the leaves in the foreground until they were just color. I liked those areas before, but they didn’t work with the boldness of the flowers, too busy. Sacrifices have to be made for the good of all, one the hard parts of painting! Floral Stage 2 was my last painting in the workshop. I may cut it up into two small paintings, the lower left flower and the two above as separate paintings. Maybe. Meanwhile they all are snug in my portfolio case.

I didn’t expect to have a finished product that I could frame, but the paintings I brought home are thrilling reminders of my new growth and artistic courage. Looking at them motivates me to try this technique again! Sheesh! This workshop was a wild experience, like a roller coaster ride, thrilling and terrifying, and yet I want to do it again! The big difference is that each painting is a different ride. It leaves me wondering what the next one will be like!

Thank you for letting me share this creative journey with you! I encourage you to go into new artistic territory and explore areas that you may find fearful at first. You will gain courage in your bravery and growth in the process!

Creatively Yours,


  1. MariLynn DeGroot says:

    Laura, good for you for stretching the talents that God has given you. I love how you shared the work in progress and the more finished projects. I think that is how God looks at us. There are days that I wish I was the finished masterpiece, but I know he is still working on me. I am looking forward to seeing what you create next. I hope you are having a blessed day.

  2. Oh Laura! These are exciting! From a viewer’s perspective, I like both the way they are. From my artist’s perspective, I can appreciate that to you they may be unfinished, yet have served a wonderful purpose in helping you to stretch your talents to greater heights.

    And this is where I say, Thank You! These last couple of weeks, and especially the last few days, have been full of seeking God and His direction for my own artistic endeavors in the fiber and paper worlds. This post has been very encouraging. A great reminder that I’m not the only one facing new territory! =)


  3. What a journey Laura –  but what fabulous outcomes – love the results.  I can understand how scary it must have been to be pushed in such different directions.

  4. Kathy Crum says:

    Laura, I love, Love, LOVE the result of your treated paper workshop. I have never taken a watercolor class, but seem to be mesmerized and drawn to paintings using this medium. Please continue to push yourself in this direction because what I see in your artistic journey is breathtaking. You have a God-given talent and it makes me happy that you share this with those of us who appreciate beautiful art!

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