Using Synthetic Papers in Art and Becoming a More Green Artist
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Using Synthetic Papers in Art and Becoming a More Green Artist

A review of the use of synthetic papers in artwork and the effects which can be achieved using it particularly in watercolour painting.

I was totally unaware of synthetic papers until I saw some interesting and exciting demonstrations of people using Yupo Paper on Youtube.  I was so impressed by the product and the interesting effects which could be achieved by using it that I went looking for some at my usual Art Suppliers, only to find out that it had not made its way into the shops in Northern Ireland as yet.  I found it online in Japan and U.S.A., but not in U.K., but I discovered that there were more types of synthetic paper and some were less expensive than Yupo.  Having checked out reviews of the cheaper brands there seems to be no real difference as the reviews are all good. 

Yupo paper may be the latest art trend, but in fact, it isn't a paper at all. It is a state-of-the-art synthetic paper-like material with a shiny surface.  I ordered a cheaper brand, manufactured by Lanavanguard, who state that it is suitable for acrylic, gouache, oil, watrcolour, marker, ink and pencil.  What impressed me is its amazing durability and its tear resistant properties.  I tried it out using watercolours and since it has a shiny surface I found that the watercolour does its own thing, creating the most interesting effects.  the shiny surface produces an almost luminescent brightness in the colours used.  that is very attractive. Yupo and other synthetic paper's primary material is polypropylene.  that is why it has durability and strength.  Even so, it also has the properties of natural paper but not the texture of many watercolour papers. It is pH Neutral and and an ultra bright white surface which makes paintings very vivid in colour. Since no trees are harmed in the manufacturing of Yupo and other synthetic papers, using it supports my green interests.  As an artist and lover of nature I am interested in the preservation and conservation of nature, and in recycling, so I have been recommending it to artist friends.  I would assume that in the long term paintings on synthetic apper will outlast that of those on traditional wood based paper as I would imagine mites and insects would have no interest in invading these paintings. Yupo is 100 percent recyclable which surprised me since I usually associate plastic and polypropylene with being non-biodegradible. How wrong I was in this case. I've really enjoyed experimenting with it and seeing the effects created naturally by the water meeting the shiny resistant surface.  I took one of my best paintings on synthetic paper to an exhibition in Carrickfergus just a few days ago and already the work has caused great interest and much comment.  I appear to be the only artist in my area using it and reviews on my work have been fantastic.  I'd recommend it to all artists and would suggest that they watch some of the demonstrations on using Yupo paper on Youtube to see the scope of using synthetic paper.  George James is particularly impressive.  Some of the demonstrations show how quickly a beautiful painting can be achieved using watercolour on Yupo paper through the use of stencils and sponging.  If you enjoy experimenting and playing with your media this technique will be particularly appealing to you.  Do also think about using it for green reasons, saving trees.  Since I have used it I would say that although the manufacturers say it is suitable for pencil work, I can see that it may not turn out to be the best in that media as the graphite smudges very easily and I have been unable to ascertain if using a spray fixitive would or would not be a good thing.  Fixitive has flammable chemicals and I am not sure how they would react with the polypropylene over time.  I have found it best for use with the water based media and crayons, though it is too expensive to give to children to play with.  Crayon under watercolour would be good to experiment with.  I have included a photo of my first effort at portrait painting on synthetic paper using watercolours.  What do you think?  Interesting effects?  Bearing in mind I class using watercolours as something I am least good at, I was pleased with what I achieved.  My usual media is acrylic on canvas so this was a pleasing effort at diversifying.  I enjoyed it and will continue to use and develop the techniques I have seen on Youtube. 

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