Yup, Watercolorist
Prefers Slick YUPO Paper

By Esther Hammer
Tampa Tribune
Baylife March 29, 2004


Ikin reworks a watercolor that started out featuring hibiscus to incorporate mangroves.  A synthetic paper allows her to make changes with a wet brush even after the painting is dry.

   Artists usually paint watercolors on special paper with an absorbent, toothed surface.
   The paint sinks in the moment it's applied.
   Not so on a synthetic paper called YUPO.
   Its surface is slick, smooth and glassy, so the paints slip and slide into one another.  There are no fibers to penetrate like with paper.
   This can present a challenge to traditional watercolorists.
   But for local artist Taylor Ikin, it's pure fun.
   "To me the excitement is the lack of control.  When you put the water, the paint and the paper together, you get magic.  I call it divine intervention," says Ikin, who has been using only YUPO for nearly six years.
   It's a creative process in which the painter manipulates rather than creates from scratch.  Images will appear and create, and then my job is to restructure them into something that makes a painting.  It's about lack of control as opposed to control," she says.
   Made by YUPO corp. America in Chesapeake, Va., the durable, tear-resistant and waterproof paper is a kind of plastic, says Paul Mitcham, YUPO's national marke ting manager.
   Intended for use by the graphic arts industry, YUPO has been around for more than 30 years.  It's most often used for menus, maps, charts, brochures and labels.
   Other artists may have experimented with YUPO as a watercolor surface before 1998, but if they did, YUPO wasn't aware of it.
   "Taylor was the first one who came to us," Mitcham says.
   Since then, YUPO has grown in popularity among watercolorists, and Ikin has come to be regarded as an expert.
   Her recent conservation series of 30 paintings, "The Hillsborough Collection," a traveling exhibition that depicts the natural beauty of Hillsborough County, was created entirely on YUPO.
   YUPO Corp. provided the paper and underwrote the catalog for the exhibition.
   YUPO and the collection may be a perfect unit in conservation themes, says Jan Stein, public art coordinator for Hillsborough County.
   "It's tree-free and environmentally safe, and so it's consistent with Ikin's environmental themes - to protect the environment and, conserve water and trees."
   And it's an innovation.
   "It's traditional watercolor on a nontraditional surface, and aesthetically it's absolutely beautiful.  Ikin has taken a printing surface that wasn't intended for fine art and transformed it into fine art," Stein says.
   Ikin likes its environmental appeal, as well as tin, fact that even after it has dried, an artist can still play with the colors.
   Working on a mangrove image recently, she used her wet brush to lift color out of the already dry panting, creating highlights where there had been none.  That's something you can't do with regular toothed watercolor paper.
   "The most important thing with YUPO is a clean brush," she says.

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