By Mary Gow

Myrna Wacknov drawing with watercolors on Tyvek

Myrna Wacknov drawing with watercolors on her unusual choice of paper

A few months ago I saw San Francisco Bay Area Artist, Myrna Wacknov, give a painting demo. She was wearing a colorful bold yellow, red and orange outfit, and her painting palette was much the same intensity. What follows are some of my notes from her talk.

Her favorite watercolors are Doc Martin’s Liquid Watercolor. She used a squirt bottle with a superfine tip to draw her lines.

She said you don’t need expensive brushes for the style she likes to paint – using an inexpensive surface that reacts like no other surface!

Painting on the same material used by the U.S. Post Office for envelopes, Wacknov likes Tyvek: a semi absorbent and easy to wipe surface. You can start a painting over again if you can quickly wipe away first strokes, as Wacknov demonstrated by drawing a face and then totally smearing it to make a soft colored background for the piece.

She buys Tyvek in bulk, suggesting When I went to that site I was redirected to I found 250 sheets of 17” x 22” for $225.×17-7-5-mil-uncoated.

Wacknov said it was an economical way to paint watercolors and indeed, much easier on the pocketbook than regular watercolor paper.

Having painted many portraits she said she prefers painting the subject from photographs rather than in-person sittings.

“I don’t admire perfect drawing,” said Wacknov.

She captures a feeling about a person in her drawings, using two apps (icolorama and Paper Camera) for helping her decide how she’ll apply tonalities and colorations.

Looking into icolorama I found this about it online: the effects are from simple image adjustments to complicated transformations. Images can also be painted with many different brushes
 and you can import and use directly your own Photoshop brushes!

The development of this app is updated based on community requests.

Community: 2300+ members.

There are some fantastic tutorials written by Jerry Jobe here:
For more explanation on icolorama and download go to

You can find PaperCamera online at:

It’s made by JFDP Labs, the same company that makes Paper Artist, an app I love to use and recommend you try it as well!

When asked whose work influences hers, who does she admire, Wacknov mentioned Ted Nuttall. You can see some of his work as a watercolor portraitist here:

In Nuttall’s bio he quotes Henri Matisse: “I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.”

You can check out Myrna Wacknov’s work in at her studio at Peninsula Museum of Art at 1777 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010. More info at

Painting in her own unique way on an unexpected surface, Wacknov encouraged artists to paint in the style they like to paint in — and to “Get people as excited as you are about it!”