Experimental Drawing and Painting

with Lisa Iglesias

Hi! I’m Lisa Iglesias. I make work on my own and with my sister, Janelle, under the name Las Hermanas Iglesias. I’m currently an Associate Professor at Mount Holyoke College, and I was a Print Fellow in Wassaic in 2015.

In this lesson, we’re going to use a wide variety of materials and we’ll follow our curiosities. As you gather your supplies, consider collecting the following: water, brushes, paper, scissors, packing tape, salt, sugar, alcohol, an old toothbrush, tape, ink, a basin, print-outs from a home printer, magazine clippings, paint, makeup, hot sauce, ketchup, tea, coffee, watercolors, dirt, highlighters, white-out, plastic wrap, and paper towels. All of these materials contain metaphorical possibilities and expand our ideas of how we can make artwork. Let’s jump in!

Making a 1-Sheet Zine

Zines are used to share and combine various techniques including collage, drawing, painting, writing, cartooning, and more.

What you’ll need

  • Printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Drawing tools (like pencils and markers)


  • Scanner or Xerox machine (to make multiples!)
  • Adhesives like tape or glue
  • Printer paper in white or assortment of colors
  • Collage materials

Making Fiber Paste

What you’ll need

  • 2 parts single-ply toilet paper
  • Water
  • 1 part water-soluble liquid glue (like Modge Podge, Elmers, PVA)
  • 1 part gesso, matte medium, or white acrylic
  • Handmixer (although you can use a stirring spoon and some elbow grease!)
  • Non-stick surface like a sheet of shipping plastic
  • Bowl
  • Optional: ink, colored acrylic paint, watercolor paint, sand, glitter, etc.


  1. Saturate two parts bathroom tissue shredded with water. Add to bowl with liquid glue and gesso.
  2. Stir until smooth and until you see that your stirring has broken down the paper pulp and you’ve achieved a smooth consistency.
  3. Store in an airtight container or use right away! If you use right away, spread on a non-stick surface and wait to dry. When dry, the surface of the fiber paste should be cool, but not cold, to touch, and without a feeling of wetness.
  4. You can experiment with adding glitter, pigments, or other elements during the stirring process to change the color and texture of your fiber paste.

Experimental Approaches with Ink and Other Water-Based Paints

What you’ll need

  • Different types of paper (watercolor paper, mixed media paper, variety of thicknesses and brands in order to experiment with!
  • Water
  • Containers
  • Brushes
  • Tape (the best tape that won’t rip your paper is low-tack Frog Tape)
  • 1 part water-soluble liquid glue (like Modge Podge, Elmers, PVA)
  • Hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Saran wrap or plastic wrap
  • Salt and Sugar
  • Different types of water-based paints to experiment with including watercolor, gouache, acrylic, ink
  • Experiment with other non-toxic and available materials including food coloring, coffee, tea, stencils, mediums, cutting tools, drawing supplies, and more.

Note: All materials are optional except for paper, water-based paints, water, brushes, and containers.

These experiments involve ink or another water-based material (like watercolor paint, thinned-down acrylic, or gouache) in combination with another material. This is called a wash.

Introducing ink into pre-drawn or pre-pooled shapes of water on your paper allows you to experiment with different “blooming” effects of the ink wash. Using materials like salt and sugar in your wash disrupts the absorption of the ink wash into the paper, thereby creating unique patterns.  Experiment with the types of paper you use, too. Watercolor, bristol, Yupo, and other papers, for example, all react very differently!

Combining Approaches to Make Works on Paper

Now let’s try putting all these approaches together! Use any combination of the above materials, or try out totally new materials. Get creative.


Here are a few artists to help you think about ways to experiment with your approaches. Many of them use variations on the exact same techinques we just learned.

A teacher’s supplement is also available here.

About the Artist

Lisa Iglesias was born and raised in Queens, New York and received her BA from Binghamton University (2001) and MFA from the University of Florida (2006). She has attended residencies at such institutions as Altos de Chavón (Dominican Republic), the Nelimarkka Museum (Finland), the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Nebraska), among others. Lisa has exhibited nationally and internationally at various spaces including El Museo del Barrio (NY), the Queens Museum of Art (NY) and the Orlando Museum of Art (FL). She works both individually as well as collaboratively with her sister, Janelle, under the name Las Hermanas Iglesias. Lisa is currently an Associate Professor at Mount Holyoke College and spends time between Massachusetts and New York.

Iglesias (she/her/hers) created this lesson in South Hadley, MA, located on the traditional homelands of the Nipmuck and the Pocumtuc.


Video soundtrack from bensound.com.

Lisa Iglesias, In the Very Roof of the Vault (Detail). Gouache, sumi ink, salt, paper, 5 in x 6 in.

Fred Wilson, Beauty and Ugliness, 2014

Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features, 1981

Kerry James Marshall, Past Times, 1997

David Hammons activated his body as well as objects including basketballs as tools for making marks, prints, and impressions, using materials like charcoal, graphite, pigments, oil, and dirt.

David Hammons, Untitled (Basketball Drawing), 2006–2007

Lisa Iglesias, In the Very Roof of the Vault, 2013. Frames, cement, Sumi ink, salt, gouache, paper, acrylic, found sidewalk & asphalt chunks, rocks, collage, wood, graphite, embroidery floss, approximately 18 ft x 2 ft x 16 ft.