The Saltaire Studio

Reduction Techniques: Tissue Paper

Reduction Techniques: Tissue Paper

I generally talk about using cold wax as a process of adding and taking away. The taking away is all about applying reduction techniques which is basically removing oil and cold wax with the intention of creating interesting effects and textures and to also reveal earlier layers of colour / texture. Here I will illustrate how you can use tissue paper to create some interesting effects.

With this piece of work I have already created a couple of layers of oil and cold wax and the top layer is still fairly wet.

Pink Sunset

I start with scrunching up some tissue paper and laying it on top of the painting. You can apply this to part of your painting rather than the whole piece. I then use a brayer and roller on top. 

Pink Sunset

You can experiment with the pressure you apply using the brayer. Less pressure and the marks tend to be more delicate. The harder the more paint is pulled off and can create bolder marks. If your paint is touch dry then you may find that you need to apply more pressure to create any texture.

When you pull off the tissue you should achieve a nice crackle effect. Don't be disappointed though if you don't get what you were wanting to achieve. As is the way with the techniques used with cold wax this can be a bit hit and miss and the results unpredictable.

Tissue reveals the orange layer underneath

Pink Sunset

This is an example of where I have used tissue paper when more paint and pigment has been applied. You can see the tissue has created a lovely delicate crackle effect.

Pink Sunset

The effects on the tissue can be extraordinarily beautiful and you can try using it again to create a version of a mono-print by printing onto another painting or back onto the painting you were working on.

Here's a great example of where the scrunched up tissue has created a tree like effect which in itself is a beautiful piece of work.

Mickleden Valley below is a really good example of how I have used the effects that the tissue has made to help shape the clouds and mountains.

And a more recent piece below, New Lands, where I have used the tissue in small areas to create the effect of trees.

New Lands

The key thing is to experiment and see what effects you can achieve!


Sep 23, 2020

Have you tried this technique with thin fabric? If so, what did you use?

Melanie Dossey
Sep 15, 2020

Votre technique est géniale et les tableaux sont superbes. Bravo

Dayer Sylvianne
Aug 24, 2020

Your work has inspired me, and I am working in cold wax and oils. Love it so much, Thank you so much for having a love of life.

Rene Hart
Aug 24, 2020

Très belles réalisation pleine de poésie !! Merci 😅 martine

Aug 22, 2020

Superb and inspirational

Aug 22, 2020

Hey it’s such a beautiful blog I found your blog on google Great idea I will also try this
graet idea with paper Thank you for this nice blog

Excel tissue
Aug 06, 2020

Thank you
I love it

Aug 06, 2020

Very creative and beautiful. Thank you.

Jul 08, 2020

Que efeitos maravilhosos! O que quer dizer “cera fria”?

Jul 04, 2020

Love your work! What kind of tissue paper are you using? I’m learning that there are all kinds of tissue paper out there.

Thank you in advance,

Alicia Stanley

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Oil and cold wax workshops