April Demonstration by Sue Smith

Sue had visited us before at last year’s “come and try” evening when she showed us how to make gelli prints. We had invited her back to demonstrate how to incorporate these prints into a painting.

Sue started by explaining to those who were new to the subject how to make a “gelli print” She, herself, had been very doubtful about using collage in watercolours until lockdown when she found information and teaching online and got hooked on the subject. Although many work differently the following is the technique Sue used for our demonstration. She uses craft paints rather than heavy bodied acrylics as they are looser, and a tissue (deli) paper for printing, with Prit stick for the adhesive.  

First choosing her colour she placed a small amount of paint on the gelli mat and rolled it to cover the surface with a thin layer. Then organic matter, leaves, grasses etc are placed over the paint and a sheet of deli paper placed on top for the first print. This is firmed by hand taking care to press all over the items.  The resulting print is carefully peeled off. The plant matter is removed, (it can be re-used), and a second thin coat of a different colour paint is applied. The paper is then replaced, smoothed and peeled resulting in a pleasing, delicate, all over, print for use. The procedure is repeated with various colours and materials to produce a stock of papers.

Sue then chose which prints she would use on her painting, the drawing of magnolia blooms having been done earlier. The prints are torn rather than cut for a less obvious finish and are used mainly for the background, although it could be  useful at times to have them overlap the drawing for effect. After agreeing the design she stuck them on her watercolour paper. Some re- drawing was necessary in places.

Ist stage photo.

A small area on the edges of these stuck papers are covered with watercolour ground to aid adhesion and diminish any hard edges.

Next Sue mixed her chosen watercolours and started painting using the negative shapes of her drawing as a guide, covering the empty background and working quickly to avoid hard edges in the paint. The printed papers are mainly left untouched although the edges may need some paint to cover the ground that was applied.

2nd stage photo.

Inktense pencils and oil pastels were added to pick up the stalks of the magnolia and overpainted some with watercolour. She started to deepen the background in areas to highlight the blooms.

3rd stage photo

This is the stage the work got to at the end of our evening.

During the following week Sue made further progress with her painting.

Next stage photo

Sue felt that parts of the background were possibly getting too dark so she lifted and changed areas with the finished result photo for you to see how it all worked together to make a lovely painting.

Many thanks to Sue for all her advice and with answering the many questions that members asked during the demo. We look forward to seeing the technique used in works for our upcoming exhibitions.