by Gilly Shaeffer, posted by Deb Shaw

Asuka Hishiki demonstrating during the "Weird, Wild & Wonderful" Symposium at The Huntington, July 2015. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

Asuka Hishiki demonstrating during the “Weird, Wild & Wonderful” Symposium at The Huntington, July 2015. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

During the recent “Weird, Wild & Wonderful” Symposium at The Huntington, I watched Asuka Hishiki as she demonstrated how she would paint a segment of an heirloom tomato skin. Here are my impressions of the way she went about developing this small sample of the tomato skin with paint.

  • Asuka says every time she approaches her subject it is new for her.
  • Asuka starts sketches on tracing paper.
  • She uses a wood pencil in a pencil holder which she sharpens with a box cutter.
  • She goes over her pencil lines with a lighter color paint or yellow ochre.  So she will have thin lines in watercolor for her drawing.
  • At this point she erases any pencil lines.
  • She covers the entire form with a Chinese white wash. (The Chinese white that she likes is the Holbein brand.)  She says one should stay very light when applying the first layer of this white paint. This Chinese white wash acts as a protection for the paper. Much of it gets taken off during the removal of the masking fluid (to be mentioned later).
  • Asuka will add more Chinese white paint on the places where she wants the paint to bleed to create  soft color transitions. She also mentions the importance of keeping  harmony in the colors used as the form develops.
Asuka Hishiki masking fluid technique. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

Asuka Hishiki masking fluid technique. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

  • She mixes three colors together in a small amount to be used to develop the form using the dry brush technique. She uses Interlon brand brush #3/0 for her dry brush work.
  • In preparing to use masking fluid to prevent certain areas of the paper from getting painted, she would prime the brush to be used with liquid soap. The soap helps to keep the masking fluid brush in good shape for future use. This brush is used exclusively for masking fluid.
  • She will use the masking fluid to hold the places that she does not want to get painted—in this case the place where a leaf would be (which looks like a skinny wiggly line in the photos), where the highlights would be and where imperfections would be found on the tomato skin.
Asuka Hishiki masking fluid technique. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

Asuka Hishiki masking fluid technique. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

  • Asuka stipples on the masking fluid with a very skinny brush on the section that she has begun to paint.
  • She uses tissue to blot any extra paint from her paper.
  • Then she adds a second layer of  masking fluid. So, this layer of masking fluid dots will have more tone than the first layer of dots that she applied that prevent any paint from getting through to the paper.
  • She always makes sure that the paint and the masking fluid that she has applied are absolutely dry before proceeding.
  • She says that you can lift paint more easily when you have first applied a Chinese white wash to the paper.
  • She applies a layer of Yellow Ochre wash.
  • She continues to develop the form through her dry brush technique. At this point the masking fluid remains on the painted area.
Asuka Hishiki masking fluid technique. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

Asuka Hishiki masking fluid technique. Photo by Gilly Shaeffer, © 2015.

  • Asuka uses Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes, #5 and #3 for the colored washes.
  • She adds a third layer of masking fluid dots.
  • With WN Series 7 #5 brush, she puts a colored wash on the section that she had previously dry brushed. This makes any lines from dry brushing disappear.
  • Now she lifts the masking fluid dots. When she does this she is also lifting the Chinese white paint that was applied to the paper at the very start.  The white of the paper now shows through in the places that had masking fluid on them.
  • She decides that she wants to apply another layer (this would be the fourth layer) of masking fluid dots. This will make the dots appear lighter and less visible than the layers applied earlier.
  • Next more dry brushing with a deeper color paint. Some stippling is used. Then some more wet strokes (colored washes) to further the development of the form.
  • When she removes the fourth layer of masking fluid, it is easy to see the section of the heirloom tomato skin developing on the paper with its highlights, its shiny smooth skin, its roundness, its imperfections and its rich colors of orange, red, and purple.
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