A batik-look can be achieved several ways without using wax on the paper. This painting was done on Masa paper, a type of rice paper.

Painting on Masa paper with transparent watercolor is easy to do. First, I squished and wrinkled the Masa into a snowball sized shape and placed it in clean water. After soaking it a minute or two, I removed it from the water and very carefully spread it out, laying it out flat on a clean white surface. When it's wet, Masa tears easily, but when it does tear, it can be patched back together later when it's glued it down.

While the Masa was still fairly wet, I splashed light valued, warm temperature watercolors over the page, taking care not to brush the paper more than once in any one spot. After adding a few cool colors for balance, I let the paper dry.

After sketching the building, etc., on the dried Masa paper, I painted in the darker values to define the subject matter. Much of the original 'first wash' colors still show in this painting where the values are medium and light. White acrylic ink was used to highlight the flowers and a few other spots.

The only problem with painting on Masa is that it 'balls up' like a bad sweater if you paint on an area too much. Otherwise, it's very, very easy to get great results using this technique. It's a good surface for beginners to try. The crinkly look resulting from the wadded up Masa paper certainly lends a special texture to this old Italian villa. To see a master's work on Masa paper, check out Cheng Khee Chee's work - awesome!

When the Masa was dry, I used methyl-cellulose wall paper paste and glued it down to a sheet of Arches 140# paper, smoothing and flatten out any wrinkles. Some artists like to leave some wrinkles.

In a couple of weeks, many artists in my classes will have the privilege of learning another more sophisticated 'batik-look' technique from Nicholas Simmons, one of the major names in contempory watercolor. He'll be here teaching in the studio for a week, and we can't wait! Just last week, he received the TOP AWARD at the National Watercolor Society's annual show. Way to go, Nick! He does a great job explaining his process on Wet Canvas (see side bar.) My friend, Rhonda Carpenter, 'introduced' me to Wet Canvas and Nick's awesome paintings. Thanks, Rhonda.

I never did title the villa painting. Titles are just hard to do sometimes. Finished size is 16 x 22" approx. Here's another painting I did on Masa paper with the batik look, done in the same way.

A final note - no rice paper is made of rice! Go figure???

"A RIDE TO WORK" on Masa 19 x 14"


Pragati said...

Sandy, your paintings are amazing. Thanks for sharing these. Looking at these paintings and also Cheng Khee Chee's work I am inspired to try the Masa Paper Technique as well. I read that you have to use 'Sized Masa Paper' for this technique. Can you please share where can I buy this paper? Many stores sell Masa Paper, but they do not specify if it is 'sized' or nor. Where do you buy the Masa paper for your amazing work?


Sandy Maudlin said...

Hi and thanks so much for visiting my blog. I purchase masa from Cheap Joe Art Supplies in N.C. or Daniel Smith Co. in Seattle, WA. I've tried the unsized paper - doesn't absorb paint into the cracks in the paper, hence no batik look, plus the paper falls apart REALLY easy if it's wet. I bought masa at Jerry's in Austin TX this week and it fell apart. I think it was called masa unryu. It looked exactly like my masa paper at home but fell to pieces when wet. I'll use it for collage, I guess.
Good luck with the process. Keep it light in value to start, too.

Pragati said...

Thanks for your reply. I guess I will be a regular visitor to your blogs now for insight and information.

Thanks again!

JI said...

I teach watercolor and yours is the clearest, best description of how to paint on Masa paper I've ever found online...plus your beautiful example is so inspiring. Many thanks for posting this excellent information. I'll be referring my students to your blog. Joan I.

Anonymous said...

What a great paintings. Thanks for giving us chance for feel some love and kind that you are giving to it!

Tumadi Patri said...



Sandy Maudlin said...

Tumadi, thank you for your clarification of batik. Please do notice that I refer to this as a batik look, not an actual batik, since no form of resist is used. The darker cracks in the masa paper 'only look like batk.'

Marilyn Brown said...

I have been an admirer of your watercolors on Masa paper for years. I also teach watercolor classes and my students loved the addition of Masa paper painting. There are different ideas of when to paste the Masa paper onto watercolor paper, before starting the painting or after the painting is completed. I have been doing the initial wash and then pasting on watercolor paper, drying completely before drawing or painting the subject but see you do the opposite. Many times I don't do a drawing but just find the subject from the initial wash on the rough side of the paper. Do you do your initial wash on rough or smooth side? Do you use India Ink at all? I wish I was younger so I could experiment for another 50 years! I am 84 and still teaching a group of senior citizens at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.