Like a Rock

By Taylor Ikin
Watercolor Artist Magazine
June 2013


   Water, land, flora and fauna are Taylor Ikin’s favorite subjects.  Committed to raising environmental awareness through her work, the Tampa resident’s YUPO-surface paintings have appeared in arts and nature museums in the South.  The artist and educator has been an artist-in-residence in the South Carolina state parks’ program.

Like a Rock


   A versatile, eco-friendly stone-based paper holds its own when put to the test.

   An interesting surface newly available on the art market, TerraSkin is a versatile option that works well with watercolor, colored pencils, ink, pastels, watercolor sticks and just about any other medium you enjoy using.  Created from stone- 80 percent calcium carbonate and 20 percent high-density polyethylene, a binding agent-the paper is printable, water- and tear-resistant, acid-free and eco-friendly.  According to its manufacturer, no trees, water or bleach are used in its production, and its production process uses 50 percent less energy than that of regular pulp paper.  Over the years, it’s been used for everything from shopping bags (at the Museum of Modern Art, for example) to book jackets.  Always looking to experiment, I tried it out with American Journey watercolors.


Summer Palms

Painting Possibilities
   I’m an artist who lifts and creates as I go, developing my image while responding to the surface.  I do little drawing, preferring instead to let my painting take me on a journey.  I toss and fling and shove, moving the paint around and setting up my background.

   In my experimentation, I found TerraSkin to be a strong, smooth support with a bit of a tooth, reminding me of an oriental rug with a slight nap.  When I lifted paint from the surface, there was a tendency for a tint to remain; rubbing with a damp paper towel helped to lighten the area.  I also discovered that I could darken the adjacent area until I was pleased with the value change; as the paint dried, it would lose the intensity of contrast.  Much like an oil painter, I experimented with adding color straight from the tube on top of dried paint and found that it stood up beautifully.  If I dampened the surface, it would absorb the crispness of the new paint.

   Traditional watercolorists, take note: Painting on such a surface eliminates the opportunity for hard, white, retrievable edges.  Because it’s a fiberless paper and doesn’t absorb as regular paper does, you get a more subtle finish when working on the TerraSkin surface.

   Ignoring the local color of the palms, I decided to create a color balance in Summer Palms (watercolor on TerraSkin 26x20) by complementing the green of the environment with American Journey’s Taylor's Flamingo Pink, which I feel helps to make the painting sing.  I treated the water surface lightly, suggesting both surface and depth.

   Follow along as I experiment on this surface, and then try it yourself!


Step 1: I rolled two small pieces of tape and placed them on the upper back corners of the paper to attach it to a piece of Fome-Cor.  With my 2-inch flat brush, I jumped in, flinging water and making big strokes and swirls.  I pushed the paint and moved it around-a process I couldn’t do in later stages as the painting set.
Step 2: Keeping the image fluid, I began to develop the sense of distance and texture, working mostly from back to front.  I find that dropping the paint on a wet surface creates a sense of emphasis and freedom.
Step 3: This stage of the process shows the attributes of TerraSkin and how it grabs the paint, creating soft blends.  As my paint began reaching out, it swirled about and intensified as it settled.  I was able to stack the paint on the brush and swirl it onto a wet and dry surface. This couldn’t be accomplished with multiple brushstrokes.


Step 4: As my painting started to take shape and get some motion, I began blocking in the tree limb.  I started to build the water and develop the background as it moved forward to support the tree.  The paper embraced the water; it flowed, but didn’t run out of control.  I noticed it grabbed the paint slightly.
Step 5: I layered heavy paint on a dry surface (the tree limb) to build up a more definite edge.  When the image was still wet and fluid, the edges were soft and blended together.
Step 6: I did a little lifting and adjusting to complete my painting - a bright image with a focus on the limb and beyond.


Previous Back to Articles & Publications Next