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Experimental Painting of Paper

In this lesson, you will paint from direct observation of a large piece of white crumpled paper or a white wrinkled sheet. Try to work with paper or a sheet that doesn't have a pattern. You will observe and paint the subtle tonal transitions creating the folds and wrinkles. Try to paint a true representation of what you are observing with all of the fine transitions of tones and subtle colors.

Use a small starched canvas 18" x 24" or 16" x 18" for this lesson. This exercise will require a lot of blending, using a synthetic sable brush for blending will help. Start with your paint diluted thin and build to heavier paint. As always, it is important to paint from "lean to fat."  You do not have to use a pencil to draw the compositional elements on the canvas. You can use paint and brush to draw and a rag to correct the drawing by wiping off sections and redrawing with the thinned paint. Once you have the drawing correctly composed, start blocking in the large forms, paying attention to the forms, and the dark and light values of the subject. As you add somewhat thicker paint, try to work on the transitions from dark to light and from one color white to another.

Below are examples of students' studies from this experimental exercise.


Art class, experimental crumpled paper assignment.


Study of crumpled paper by Peg Taylor.


Study of crumpled paper by Lynn Gorman.

Master painters' interpretations of paper and cloth.


Edward A. Butler, Gray Sheet, White Sheet.


Michael Ward, Crumpled paper.

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