Exploring A New Paper: One Artist's Process

How to Explore a New Paper

During our last OAS Painting Challenge in our OASlife Facebook group, we were struck by the submissions of artist and OAS customer Peggy Kimiecik as she explored a new paper: OAS' Vintage Mulberry Paper.

Started with Some Marbling or Suminagashi

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She started by doing some marbling on the paper. Marbling/Suminagashi is a technique of floating ink or color on the surface of water to create patterns. These patterns are then captured by laying a piece of paper over the surface of the water. This was a good choice given the qualities of the paper.

OAS' Vintage Mulberry paper is:

  • durable, 
  • semi-sized, allowing it to handle excess moisture gracefully
  • shows vibrant color especially for a semi-sized paper.

You can see that she captured some amazing, dynamic ink patterns but that was just the start of her exploration.

Next She Did Some Featured Elements Practice

Next she did some practicing of strokes and featured elements on the paper to get a feel for how the paper would paint.

One of her primary papers for painting is OAS' Cotton Paper. Although Vintage Mulberry and Cotton are in the same "family" of paper, she remarked that the Vintage Mulberry paints "drier" than the Cotton paper due to its semi-sizing.

Using the Moisture Control Qualities of the Paper

Next she did a flower composition where she paints in a way that takes advantage of the paper's moisture control qualities.

She described this painting as "loose play." We interpret this to mean that there was a focus on more freedom in the strokes and the loading of the brush.

You can see here that she is painting with a wetter brush and sometimes painting "wet-on-wet" where she paints on an area and the paints over the same area while it is still wet.

Going with the Strengths of the Paper

Peggy used the "drier" qualities of the paper in these crows. The texture that a "drier" paper like Vintage Mulberry produces are great to show texture like those found in rocks for landscapes or for bird feathers.

Final Crow Painting on the Marbling/Suminagashi

Marbling/Suminagashi is great for capturing lovely patterns of ink/color on paper but we especially love when artists go back and paint using the patterns as backgrounds or abstract elements in paintings. Here we can see Peggy using the marbling to suggest a branch on which her crow is perching.

Final Deer Painting on the Marbling/Suminagashi

And finally we see Peggy using one of her Marbling/Suminagashi backgrounds to suggest a tree and perhaps a rock behind which a couple deer are hiding.

What We Learned from Peggy's Process with OAS' Vintage Mulberry Paper:

  • Be patient when exploring a new paper. Discovering a new paper is like meeting a new person. The more you get to know them, the easier it will be to partner with them to do something meaningful. Don't expect to paint a final masterpiece right away, Be willing to paint on the paper numerous times just to learn what its qualities are and how they can be maximized.
  • Expect to be uncomfortable. Each paper is different and the first few times painting on a new paper may be uncomfortable. OAS does not sell paper that is without merit. If you are having trouble with a paper from OAS, feel free to reach out to us and get some tips and pointers about how to use the paper.
  • Use a paper for its strengths. If a paper paints dry, use that quality. If it bleeds then use that quality.


  • Peggy shared this as part of our OASlife Facebook Group 30 day challenge. This is where people commit to paint everyday for 30 days and to share at least one painting a day on our OASlife Facebook Group.
  • Join our OASlife Facebook Group to see more of Peggy's work or to participate in our next 30 day painting challenge in the Fall. We have an exciting mini challenge planned for late summer. This will be a great event for people who have never participated a Painting Challenge before.
  • Paint more! Artists are not in the habit of showing you their process. Most just show you a final masterpiece and we as the audience assume that they fell out of bed and painted a masterpiece on the first try. Even this sharing by Peggy was only a fraction of what she painted to get these final paintings.

Here is a simple Marbling/Suminagashi Tutorial by Ling Chi using just ink.

We hope featuring Peggy's process has given you a better idea of how you can explore a new paper. OAS has many wonderful papers. We encourage you to have confidence in exploring these papers and remember, we are always here for you if you have any questions.
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