Orizuru (折鶴)

First off, please don’t panic. I didn’t paint a picture of birds. I used what is called paper to create a piece of wall art with birds sitting on some branches. The color in the tissue paper when you get it wet, which as it turns out, looks like water color paint. So yes, this painting actually contains no paint at all. Only color from paper.


I’ll show you how to use paper to create this water color effect so you can play around with it too. There’s also a video below that demonstrates all the different ways you can use it, I highly recommend watching it!

I first got the paper from S&S Worldwide, the company I developed my kid’s craft kits for. When I was working on the craft kits I was trying all sorts of different materials but didn’t get a chance to play with the paper until now.

I was inspired to “paint” this bird canvas with the paper because of the painting that my daughter got me for my birthday. It hangs above my sewing table in the studio. I love all the textures in that painting, which is what made me decide to create this one.

As you can see from these close up shots, you can create some pretty fun and interesting textures using the paper. I like that you can layer it or blend it, brush it or scrunch it. I just kept playing around until I was happy with my results.

So let’s get started. There are a few things you will need. Most items you will have in your craft room or closet, but a couple things you might need to buy.


12×24 canvas
Acrylic sealer spray
Micron craft pen

First off, if you don’t like your hands getting, you might want to wear some workable latex gloves. However, the stains do wash off with soap and water. So have fun.

I started off by drawing out my birds, which you can do too. Maybe it’s not birds you want to paint, so draw whatever you like. I actually added a third bird later. Rule of thirds after all.

My canvas was already primed. If yours isn’t, you might want to give it a layer of gesso first. Totally up to you, but the results could be different if the surface is not primed. Before we move on, here’s the video I mentioned earlier. It shows several different ways to use paper.

I chose light blue as my initial background color. I wanted some white to show through. First I dampened the surface of the canvas with water and a paintbrush. I crumpled the tissue paper slightly then straightened it out and placed it onto the canvas.

I used a paintbrush to add water to the top of the tissue paper. The takes place once the tissue paper is wet. Moving the paintbrush across the surface will encourage more of the color to release from the tissue paper. If you find that the amount of color released is simply not enough, put the tissue paper back in place and use your damp paintbrush to gently rub the tissue paper onto the surface of the canvas.

This is where art takes over. Simply lift and move the paper to different areas of the canvas, crumple it up and pounce like a sponge, adding water as needed, lifting and checking the color, and repeating wherever necessary.

And that’s it! We made a piece of wall art that looks like water color paint but doesn’t use any paint at all! Hope you enjoyed this project and it encourages you to try something new.

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