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in i nding a fresh 
angle on a popular subject. 
In 1904, Prendergast joined h e 
Eight, a group of artists best known 
for celebrating urban street life in the 
early 20th century. In that context, he 
was an anomaly; although he painted 
scenes i lled with human bustle, the 
commotion was that of middle- and 
upper-class leisure, seen for its decora-
tive qualities. He was the oldest 
member of h e Eight, but he was also 
the most modern. Prendergast's 
designs are composed of shimmering 
lat patterns, his igures abstracted to
the point that they nearly dissolve in
light. When he died in 1924, his work
was deemed too progressive to merit
a retrospective at he Metropolitan
Museum of Art—where today, several
of his works are on view, including
Piazza di San Marco. WA
Jerry N. Weiss is a contributing writer
for ine art magazines. He teaches at the
Art Students League of New York.
Repeated and varied
shapes help to unify the
painting. The triangular
forms of the three flags are
echoed by distant sails.
Arched windows and
building details connect the
campinale, or bell tower,
and adjacent architecture.
Other unifying motifs are
value and temperature.
Shadow areas are generally
bluish, and sunlit planes
are a luminous pale yellow.
Perhaps Prendergast
painted the chromatic red
patches on the flags last;
they’re the serendipitous
touches that make the
painting memorable.
Piazza di San Marco 
(ca. 1898-99; watercolor and 
graphite on off-white wove 
paper, 1611⁄16x15⅜ ) by Maurice 
Brazil Prendergast
Prendergast’s 
designs are 
composed of 
shimmering flat 
patterns, his 
figures abstracted 
to the point that 
they nearly 
dissolve in light.
ArtistsNetwork.com 11
The flat, grid-like design is broken by
the diagonal recession of flagpoles. The
colorful flags and spots of untouched 
white paper that suggest sunlit figures 
further animate the painting.
The composition is constructed upon a
series of rectangles: the ground plane
of the piazza; the shadowed blocks of 
the bell tower and Procuratie Nuove; 
and the lagoon and sky beyond.
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Prendergast appears to have painted the Piazza San Marco from the 
top of the Procuratie Vecchie, looking south across the piazza. 
His design crops familiar landmarks: The base of St Mark’s Campinale 
(the bell tower) is almost unrecognizable—and he omits altogether
the splendid and ornate Basilica, just out of view at the left.
12 Watercolor artist | OCTOBER 2018
Master Class
i irst discovered YUPO paper about20 years ago when it went by thename Kimdura. Since then, many
watermedia artists have had a chance
to try it. If you haven’t, here’s what
you need to know about this slick,
waterproof, somewhat challenging
but oh-so-fun surface.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
YUPO is a synthetic paper made of
polypropylene—plastic. It’s 100
percent waterproof, very strong,
tear-resistant and recyclable.
here are two main advantages to
the surface. he irst is removability.
Transparent watercolor can be readily
removed at any time in the painting
process. his makes altering your work
or ixing mistakes relatively easy.
Even a dry paint ilm can be re-wetted
and removed, or altered. Also, you can
preserve the white of the paper as you
work, of course, but it isn’t a primary
concern when working on YUPO,
because—if you lose a light or white
shape—it’s easy to lift out color with 
a thirsty brush or paper towel.
h e second attribute is the ability 
to add texture. Because all the paint 
and water sits up at the paper’s sur-
face, gravity acts on the puddle of 
paint and water in unexpected ways. 
h ese swirls, runs, drips and puddles 
will dry with wonderful textures that 
can be incorporated into your work.
It’s still possible to create a perfectly
smooth passage by letting a puddle
dry with no manipulation. In addi-
tion, anything absorbent pressed
into the wet paint will leave that
impression or mark in the paint ilm,
creating more textural possibilities.
Yes, there are some challenges to
the surface, but these can be tempered
with practice. If your painting practice
involves glazing—layering with many
washes—to achieve the desired color
and value, you may be frustrated with
YUPO at irst. Because the paint sits
on top, any dry layer will be disturbed
with the addition of a new layer.
herefore, with YUPO, it’s better to
achieve the desired color and value in
the irst pass. Having said that, you
can completely change a passage at
any time.
I do a lot of my non-objective or
abstract work on YUPO, but I’ve also
used it for my representational work
as well, as in the following demon-
stration of a landscape painting 
using transparent watercolor. 
Mark Mehaf ey (mehaf eygallery.com) 
is an award-winning artist and popular 
workshop instructor. He has made a 
number of instructional art videos, 
including one about painting on YUPO. 
Visit artistsnetwork.com/store.
Materials
PAPER
• 26x20-inch piece of medium-
weight YUPO
PAINT
• Cheap Joe’s American Journey 
Artists’ watercolors; Holbein 
Artists’ Watercolors
BRUSHES
• No. 12 Kolinsky sable round 
brush
MISCELLANEOUS
• Spray bottle of water, pencil
A Pick of Papers
Every paper has its advantages. What you choose 
depends on what you want to do and how you want 
to work. Here’s an introduction to one of the more 
unique options for watercolor painters—YUPO®.
By Mark Mehaff ey
LEGION
MASTER CLASS
S P O N S O R E D B Y
ArtistsNetwork.com 13
Step 1
I lightly draw the contour of large shapes on the paper. I know 
it will be a guideline only for the first washes. Using Hansa 
yellow light, ultramarine blue and quinacridone rose, I paint a 
flowing wash from the sky shape into the distant trees and on 
down the road. Closer to the foreground, I warm up the color 
by adding a mix of quinacridone rose and Hansa yellow.
Value Sketch
When working on a representational piece, I almost 
always start with a small (3x4-inch) pencil sketch to 
simplify shapes, find the focal area and assign values to 
shapes. This way, I can better concentrate on handling the 
water, paint and brush in the painting stage instead of 
worrying about where things go or how dark or light it is.
Step 3
Using my No. 12 round brush, I add a darker wash of ultramarine 
blue and quinacridone rose to the road shape. As I do, I paint the 
negative space around the warmer color applied previously. I can 
make the large shape darker by adding more paint or lighter by 
lifting with my brush as I paint. (Turn the page for the “finish.”)
Step 2
Once the paint is completely dry, I use a mix of Hansa yellow, 
cobalt teal, ultramarine blue and quinacridone rose to add 
the overhanging trees. While still wet, I quickly add a few 
branches. To create an impression of leaves, I lightly spray the 
wet wash. The droplets create textural interest.
14 Watercolor artist | OCTOBER 2018
Master Class
Finish
To complete Close to Home (watercolor on YUPO, 26x20), I use a thirsty brush to lift the edges of the distant trees 
to make them look a bit more like leaves. I also lift some of the paint from the light shapes where the sunlight filters 
through the trees and hits the drier road. I then add the dark wash that defines the trees using a mix of indigo, 
ultramarine blue and quinacridone rose. I use the tip of my brush to add branches and individual leaves on the edges 
of the trees. I fight the urge to overdo details. Instead, I try to go with the flow, which is what YUPO offers. WA
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