"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind". - Henry James

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Watercolor Transfer Painting with Carla Sonheim

Layered Transfer Owlet
Just finished another wonderful five-day online workshop with Carla Sonheim called Watercolor Transfer Painting. Carla devised a method of using tee-shirt, iron-on transfer paper (Avery, Jolee, etc.) and painting and drawing on the sheets and then ironing the images on to paper or fabric. Very inventive and lots of fun!

Each day for five days Carla sent out an email containing links to a warm-up worksheet and the class blog where you find a video demo and photos of the pieces she worked on in the demo for that day's assignment. There's a flickr group for uploading and sharing, which I loved but never got to view and comment as much as I would have liked. There is some wonderfully fabulous work there!

The first day we made sheets of random patterns and designs on our transfer paper using watercolor first and then adding other media. Watercolor behaves differently on transfer paper than it does on watercolor paper. And behaves differently still on different brands of transfer paper. This is Avery brand and I love the way the watercolor dots spread and separate and resist each other.  

Here is an example of Jolee brand transfer paper. The watercolor didn't seem to spread as well, so I spritzed it with water and got this nifty grainy effect. Unfortunately, I neglected to scan it again after I added some Pan Pastels and pen.

But I think you can see the effect in these egg/bird shapes I cut from this piece after I had added some Pan Pastels and pen.  I cut these shapes and ironed them on to hot pressed watercolor paper.

Egg/bird Shapes

These little birds started out as eye shapes for the face assignment, but I began to see birds rather than eyes. So birds they became.  

Three Small Birds

We even made landscapes!  I like this landscape better than any I have done directly on watercolor paper.

Watercolor, pencil, & charcoal landscape

On the fifth day we did a sort of printmaking process where we made three "plates" of images and layered one atop the other. The little owl at the beginning of this post was done using three layers. The first (bottom) layer is watercolor. The second (middle) layer is Pan Pastel. And the third (top) layer is Tombow pen, which is smooth and doesn't tear the delicate surface of the transfer emulsion. It reminds me of encaustic.

I can't wait to work with these techniques more and there is some serious inspiration on the flickr site too!  Go have a look ~ Watercolor Transfer Painting flickr group


  1. Carla is so inspiring! I love your class results! Great job. Off to check out the flick group too!

  2. Thanks so much Nancy! Isn't Carla amazing? I'm doing her Cereal Box Paper Doll class this week and it is such a hoot. As soon as I take photos, I'll post the silly paper dolls I made of me, my husband, and our dog. :-D