Plastic Wrap | Watercolor Technique

One of my favorite aspects of watercolor is its open time. A mediums’s open time is the amount of time it takes to dry/cure. Watercolor’s moderate open time makes it possible to get effects that are difficult to get with acrylic or oils. A   f u n   t e c h n i q u e   t h a t   t a k e s   a d v a n t a g e   o f   t h i s   q u a l i t y   i s   t h e   p l a s t i c   w r a p   m e t h o d . Yes. THAT plastic wrap. But in this instance, when it sticks together, it will actually be on purpose.


 W a t e r c o l o r   i s   t h e   G o l d i l o c k s of this technique; traditional acrylic paint’s open time is too short, and with traditional mediums, oil paint’s open time is too long.


 We’re going to go over just how to use this painting method, but first, l e t ’ s   g e t   s o m e   i n s p i r a t i o n .  Side note: Plastic wrap art is appropriate and easy for all ages. You can incorporate it into a larger work while your little one(s) experiment next to you! The best part is that the clean up for watercolor is easy if they get a little too enthusiastic spreading the paint around. Cuties.


Great Debths by Nina Allen Freeman

In this example, Nina Allen Freeman uses the technique to create a root system for the water lilies. Dynamic Distraction is keen on advancing artwork by looking at what you've created with the basic techniques we teach you on this blog, then filling in the BIG picture. ie. Nina may have seen lilies after using the plastic wrap technique!

Retrieved from Setsail.bykristin

This painting by "Set Sail By Kristin" shows this technique also stands up all on its own and "doesn't take forever to dry". In the first color theory lesson, we talked about complimentary, secondary, and tertiary color combinations. This could be an interesting way to explore these concepts.

Retrieved from Setsail.bykristin


Source material by Judith Stein and photos provided by Jay Lee Painting

 1. Wet your paper in the shape of the tree, flower or shape you are texturing. The paper should be wet, not just damp. I recommend using a heavy weight watercolor paper to minimize warping. Drop different colors into the wash and let the paint merge to create natural hues.

2. Scrunch the plastic wrap (also known as Saran Wrap and cling wrap) into the natural texture of the object and place it over the wet area. Allow the area to dry completely dry before removing the plastic. 

3. The plastic wrap leaves a texture that simulates the petals of a geranium. Detail will be added to accent the shapes.


    Texturing leaves for fall (see leaves below)

      Retrieved from Joe Cibere

      Background for stencils
      Stretching the plastic will create the natural effects of tree bark, sand & concrete.
      Backgrounds for lettering.
      Perfect for water texture

        Retrieved from Rita Squier

        Outline mountains and fill it in with the plastic wrap technique ;)
        Blurry/ abstract background (see man fishing below).

          Retrieved from Joe Cibere


          So there you have it! A nontraditional and useful new tool to add to your art arsenal. You probably already have it in your kitchen! Pssst. Maybe you can use the money you saved to purchase a set of top notch brushes.

          H a p p y   w r a p p i n g , y o !

          via GIPHY

           By: Brittney Espinoza