Watercolor Technique Using Plastic Wrap For Texture

Using everyday plastic saran wrap can be a nifty watercolor technique for producing unique textures and backgrounds.

Step 1 for a watercolor plastic wrap effect

Before the flood

MATERIALS USED: Arches CP #140 watercolor paper, a 1½" Winsor & Newton Series 965 wash brush, plastic food wrap. COLORS USED: Pthalocyanine Blue, Sap Green. For this watercolor technique, I start by mixing a large wash of Pthalocyanine Blue and laying in a large loose wash from the upper left corner on across the top of the paper. I used my 1 ½" wash brush for the color washes.


The underpainting completed

I finished the underpainting with Sap Green, spreading things around in interesting shapes. I measured off a piece of plastic wrap by sight, ripped it off the roll, and spent a minute trying to un-cling it from itself. Thankfully this is the hardest part of learning this watercolor technique!


Laying down the plastic

I roughly shaped the sheet with my hands and pressed it into the wet washes. I pulled the plastic sheet out a bit to cover the whole wash.


Pretend to know what you're doing

I spent a few seconds playing with the shapes. Making some raised, flat, and stretched areas in the plastic. You do have some control over the final outcome at this point, so take your time. I set it aside to dry flat and undisturbed.


Ta-da! A watercolor technique using plastic wrap for texture

I had a teacher who used this technique as a starting point for large acrylic paintings. I now understand his enthusiasm for it at the time. The effect always gives suprises and is startlingly beautiful to look at.

Paul Rubens Artist Grade Watercolor Paint

by Greg Conley

November 24th, 2015