art tutorial, hand and birch trees

touch wood I, 9x12, rice paper on paper by gallery juana

I love rice paper and use it for painting and printing. Touch Wood I and Touch Wood II were done using the process explaned below.

Touch Wood II art tutorial

Materials and tools:

sheet of rice paper larger than your support
watercolor paper
matte medium
watercolor pencil
sand paper
paper towel
acrylic brushes

For this tutorial, I will focus on the birch trees.  The same materials and process can be used to complete the hands.

I love trees and keep a collection of dried leaves and pieces of bark on my art table. For the Touch Wood series, I discovered rice paper adds a perfect element to bringing Birch trees to life.

Rice Paper and Watercolor Paper

The rice paper will be adhered to the watercolor paper. Rice paper comes in different varieties. Some will be thinner or more fibrous than others. One thing to remember is the thinner the rice paper, the more likely it is to tear when wet or overworked. Also, if you’ve painted or collaged on the watercolor paper support first, those layers will show through the rice paper in the beginning of this process.

Layers and Grooves for Bark

I painted a sketch of the hands and trees on the rice paper.  Once the paint was dry on the rice paper, I used matte medium  to adhere the rice paper to the watercolor paper.  At the same time,  I shaped parts of the rice paper to mimic knots in the wood.   After allowing everything to dry, I used gesso and acrylics to add lighter areas and textures in the bark.

touch wood II wip, adding gesso and pencil

To add dark areas, I ran a 5h or 7h pencil sideways throughout the bark to catch the raised areas and then burnished with a paper towel. This allowed the raised layers and some crevices to take on the pencil. Between some of the layers, I lightly sanded the painted areas of the bark to give the paper some tooth.

touch wood II wip

I used watercolor to stain the areas of rice paper that had not been covered with acrylic or gesso. I wiped off the watercolor which left only what had stained the rice paper or sanded areas. This process of adding gesso, acrylic and pencil is repeated along with lightly sanding, if necessary, between layers and burnishing.

The painting was still dark at this point, so I lightened the blue sky background and continued to bring out the shadows and ridges of the hands and trees with more washes of color.  I added leaves by painting dried leaves with acrylics and printing the leaf image onto the painting.

Lastly, using a 6b pencil, I drew the outlines of the trees and burnished here and there to soften the lines. Once completely dry, the varnish was added.

touch wood II,  9 x 12, rice paper on paper, mixed media

read my other art tutorial on using rice paper for birch trees.

Have you used rice paper in your art?

joining sunday sketches


  1. Very interesting tutorial. I will defo try this. Lovely textures.

  2. hands are difficult to draw I like your effect..good textures

  3. This is wonderful! Thank you for posting about your process, your art has such an impressive look and feel to it!

  4. Ooo... the birch effect is wonderful, Juana! BEAUTIFUL process... I just love the softness. I've not used rice paper much in my mixed media ramblings, mostly because I can't get it locally. And since I'm on an art supplies diet, it is my list for later... LOL! I'm wondering though, about the grip of the other hand on the wrist in your pieces here... is there a meaning/reason for this? hhhmmm... makes me think... ((HUGS))

  5. Juana, terribly sorry for the late visit. I've been up to my ears in work and lost track of things. :/ Thank you for sharing with us. This is a wonderful piece and it was great to see what you used for materials and such. Your work is always impressive. You should teach an online class...or do you already?! :)


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