Celebrating the Natural and the Process

When I first dipped my brush into a pool of vibrant watercolor and let it glide across the surface of a piece of hand-made paper, I knew I had found something special. Drawing on handmade and homemade paper isn’t just about having a unique textured surface to work on; it’s about the entire process that brings you closer to nature and immerses you deeply into the very essence of artistic creation.

The Connection to Nature

The allure of handmade paper, in part, lies in its organic and tactile nature. In a world dominated by mass-produced goods, there’s something soulful and grounding about using paper created by hand. It feels alive beneath your fingertips, with each sheet bearing its unique set of imperfections and characteristics. This connection to the material reminds me that art is not just about the end product but about the journey—a journey that begins long before the pencil touches the paper.

Dick Crispo with hand made paper

By working with handmade paper, I find myself more connected to the natural world. This connection is fostered by the earthiness of the materials, and the mindful, meditative process of making the paper itself. The rough grains, the subtle variations in thickness, and the occasional flecks from the natural fibers used—all these elements ground me, slow me down, and open up a conversation with the natural world.

The Joy of Crafting the Art Paper

Making paper by hand is an art in itself. There’s a slow, rhythmic beauty to the process—a satisfying ritual that takes you through boiling plant fibers, beating them into a pulp, and forming each sheet by hand. There’s a meditative quality to it, similar to kneading bread dough or pruning a bonsai tree.

When I immerse myself in making paper, I become acutely aware of the artistry and labor involved. It’s a tangible way to channel creativity even before a mark is made. This preliminary act of creation allows me to imbue intention and care into every fiber, transforming the paper from a mere substrate into an integral part of the artwork.

Embracing the Unpredictable

One of the most liberating aspects of using handmade paper is its unpredictability. Machined paper offers a uniformity that can be stifling, a predictability that occasionally curtails the sense of discovery in the art-making process. Handmade paper, on the other hand, is full of surprises. The uneven texture, slight color variations, and unique absorbency rates introduce a level of spontaneity that I’ve come to embrace and cherish.

There is an element of surprise each time the brush moves across the surface. The ink or paint might flow differently, absorb faster, or linger longer in certain areas. These small surprises make the process of drawing or painting less about controlling every aspect and more about exploring what happens naturally. It’s about collaborating with the paper and letting it, in a sense, guide the artwork.

Enhancing the Artistic Outcome

The characteristics of handmade paper can dramatically influence the outcome of a piece. The texture can add depth and interest to drawings, while its absorbent qualities can create stunning effects with watercolors and inks. Sometimes, the beauty of the art lies not just in the carefully planned details but in the unexpected patterns and textures that emerge organically.

When the paper becomes an active participant in the creative process, every piece of art becomes a collaboration. Instead of forcing my vision onto a blank, impersonal sheet, I find myself having a dialogue with the paper. Its distinctive qualities often challenge me, leading to more innovative and dynamic works. This conversation not only enhances the final outcome but makes the creative journey richer and more fulfilling.

The Process of Art-Making

Drawing on handmade paper naturally encourages a mindset of openness and acceptance. When the foundations of your art are inherently unique, you learn to appreciate and build upon the unplanned aspects that emerge. This patience and adaptability extend beyond the act of drawing or painting and seep into the way you approach creative challenges as a whole.

Creating art is a deeply personal process, one that reflects my inner thoughts, feelings, and visions. But when I draw on handmade paper, I am reminded that the process itself can be just as significant as the final piece. The texture, color, and feel of the paper become part of the story—an element that adds another layer of meaning to the artwork.

A Holistic Experience

Drawing on handmade and homemade paper transforms the art-making process into a holistic experience. It starts with the joy of crafting the paper, feeling a profound connection to nature, and embracing the unpredictable beauty that the paper brings. This approach not only enhances the final artistic outcome but also imbues the entire creative journey with a calm acceptance of whatever unfolds.

As an artist, learning to appreciate and enjoy every stage of creating, from making the paper to making the art, has been one of the most rewarding lessons. Embracing the unique characteristics of handmade paper allows for a deeper, more personal engagement with each piece. It teaches me to value the imperfections, the surprises, and most importantly, the process of creation itself.