Intarsia in Watercolor

Rolling Stones - Watercolor Intarsia Art by Peony and Parakeet

Last week I visited a fascinating exhibition. The gallery displayed Yoshinobu Nakamura’s wood intarsia art. Yoshinobu Nakamura is a Japanese artist living in Finland. He creates masterpieces by combining tiny wooden pieces. I was deeply impressed how the characteristics of various tree species and specimens showed in his work. I wanted to try the subtle color scheme and some kind of intarsia myself. And I did, only using watercolors and watercolor paper instead of natural wooden blocks!

Love for Tiny Pieces

Speaking of tiny pieces of paper, I have always loved them. When I was a teenager, I cut the pieces from magazines and made a mosaic type of work. Some of them never got finished as they were painfully slow to create!

Paper Mosaics by Peony and Parakeet

Years later, I made a pen holder for my husband using paper scraps cut from magazines. I carefully covered every surface that could be reached and finished the penholder with gel medium. It has survived at least ten years!

Carboard Penholder Covered with Paper Pieces, by Peony and Parakeet

Watercolor Paper Intarsia

But this intarsia project was going to be different from mosaic work. I would not only cut the paper into small pieces but also adjust each piece in line with others! I started the project by painting the papers. For some of the painted areas, I also added lines resembling wood grains with a black drawing pen.

Watercolor papers by Peony and Parakeet

Next, I tried cutting the pieces. I discovered that they have to be put on top of each other, right side up. The cut line will then fit perfectly.

Instructions for Paper Intarsia, by Peony and Parakeet

I used masking tape to attach the cut pieces together.

Instructions for Paper Intrasia, by Peony and Parakeet

The big piece that I made looked pretty interesting. But it looked even better when the geometric shapes were cut out of it!

Instructions for Paper Intarsia, by Peony and Parakeet

I painted one watercolor paper to look like pine wood. The spotty paper was found from the stash. After hours of cutting and adjusting, the artwork was finally finished. See, all the papers are on the same level, not on top of each other! With intarsia technique, you can use thick papers for collage art!

Watercolor Paper Intarsia, imitating wood with watercolors by Peony and Parakeet

My belief in watercolors continues to stay strong. I love how easy it was to imitate wood with them!

Rolling Stones - Watercolor Paper Intarsia Art by Peony and Parakeet

Once the artwork was put together, I attached the piece, with masking tape background and all, onto a white watercolor paper using gel medium. I think I call it “Rolling Stones.” Have fun with this technique!

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Masking Tape Magic

While reading the morning paper I saw this painting from Paivi Takala. It is made using masking tapes. Masking tapes! Surely I can do something for my art journal with them …

I made a page about Japan and wrote how I love all the tiny stuff they produce from bonsai trees to small boxes. Instead of layering with paint I used masking tape.

Here are some snapshots from the process.

Here you can see the masking tapes and how I have doodled over them. I started with black marker and color pencils.

Then I added some glitter paint.

Now I have removed the tape.

Here’s the final page again. I have filled some of the areas with handdrawn patterns but used most for journaling. Will definitely used this technique again!