Tissue paper is a wonderfully versatile medium for artwork which can be used in so many ways, either on its own or in combination with other art materials. It’s translucent qualities give its colours a brightness and luminosity and also make it perfect for layering. It also lends itself perfectly for use with texture. For the purposes of this post I’m going to be looking at ideas for using tissue paper as a medium for 2 dimensional artwork – there are of course lots of ways to use it in 3-dimensional work too, but I think you could probably write an entire book if I was to include that too!
Use it to Add Texture
Using tissue paper to add texture to mixed media pieces is easy to do. Either by scrunching it up before gluing to your support, or by gluing it down first, and then creating your texture upon it before it dries.
Once dry, the texture can be emphasised further by rubbing lightly over it with chalk or oil pastels.
Add a further dimension by printing onto tissue paper using a home printer, and then gluing your printed out paper onto your prepared support. Depending upon the colour and density of the printed image, the translucency of the paper will allow the texture and colour of the support beneath to modify and give richness to your printed image. If you want to try this, make sure you tape the edges of your sheet of tissue paper to a piece of support paper – (I use masking tape for this), otherwise the paper will be too fine, and is likely to tear and/or jam in your printer.
Use it in Layers
Because it is so fine, tissue paper can be used in several layers on artwork without the surface becoming too bulky. It’s important to let each layer dry before you add the next, otherwise you are in danger of creating a soggy, pulpy mess.
Tissue paper can be used like a glaze to add a depth and richness of colour to a piece of artwork, in addition to texture, and once you have several layers, there is the option to peel back selectively to reveal parts of the layers beneath.
Because of this translucency it is also of course excellent for use in simple suncatchers…
Use it for Collage
Either on its own or with other materials, tissue paper is ideal for collage because it is so light. Admittedly it can be quite fiddly to cut out shapes, but using lots of smaller torn pieces or simple squares is easier for young children, or if you want a more 3 dimensional result, try scrunching small pieces and forming them into small balls.
Use it to Create Watercolours
- You can do this by using bleeding tissue paper – this is the kind which is non-colour fast and bleeds colour when it is wet. Most coloured tissue paper won’t work, because the colour is fast, but you can sometimes find cheap paper which is perfect for the job.
- There are lots of different creative ways to use bleeding tissue paper. At its very simplest, you can arrange pieces of the tissue onto paper, and then leave it out in a shower of rain. When the tissue is removed it will leave random colour stains which run together like water-colour.
- If you leave the whole thing to dry and then remove the tissue paper carefully, you will find you are left with beautiful watercolour shaded pieces of tissue paper (see image below) which can be used again for collage work.
- I like to create a collaged piece of artwork like that illustrated above left, by cutting shapes or tearing pieces and then gluing them down onto thin card, overlapping them in places. Once dry I then splash and spray water over it to give texture and a watercolour feel to the artwork.
Use it for Mixed Media work
Many of the above ideas can of course be combined in mixed media artwork. The artwork illustrated here demonstrates 2 different ways. The first image uses tissue paper on top of a canvas board to give added texture, with watercolour washes over. Oil pastel has been added in places, and finally pen and ink has been used to give detail.
In the second image, a simple drawing was made using white wax crayon. Bleeding tissue paper was added loosely over it, and then sprayed with water until it was completely wet. A sheet of glass was placed over the top, and the whole thing turned over so that the paper could be rubbed over the wet tissue and glass – basically like monoprinting – this causes the colour to spread much further. The glass was removed and further texture added by sprinkling salt crystals onto the wet areas, which were removed when dry.