How Watercolor Artist Lynn McLain Uses Pro Tapes®

Lynn McLain is a prolific and prodigious artist. His large-scale watercolor paintings depict vast landscapes full of light and incredibly detailed close-ups of natural and man-made objects. Today, we check in with Lynn to find out how he uses our tape products to create his amazing artwork!

Do you have a website or any social media sites you’d like to share with our audience?

Readers can view my work (and more) on my website:

Watercolor paintings by Lynn McLain. On the left is "Road Chatter 74," 30" x 21". On the right is "Monument Surprise," 16" x 30".
Watercolor paintings by Lynn McLain. Left: “Road Chatter 74,” 30″ x 21″. Right: “Monument Surprise,” 16″ x 30″.

Can you briefly describe your background/past experience in the arts?

  • Architect for 30+ years
  • Painting and teaching watercolor for 40+ years
  • Founding member of the Wet Brush Critique Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Past member of the 22×30 Critique Group in Scottsdale, Arizona 
  • Member of the Fabriano Group
  • Past president of several different watercolor societies
  • Signature/Dolphin Member of the American Watercolor Society and a Signature Member of the National Watercolor Society
"Majestic Hollyhocks," watercolor painting, 53" x 26". Detail shown on left.
“Majestic Hollyhocks,” watercolor painting, 53″ x 26″. Detail shown on left.

What inspires your artwork and process? Why did you gravitate towards watercolor as a medium?

My belief is that my work and my process are inspired by God. I like to say, “God does the work, I just push the brush.”

Watercolor is such an exciting medium. When you include good design, good composition, texture and color with such an exciting medium, WOW, that’s what it’s all about!

Left: "Cerro Pedernal," watercolor painting, 19" x 48". Right: "Road Chatter 75," watercolor painting, 30" x 21".
Left: “Cerro Pedernal,” watercolor painting, 19″ x 48″. Right: “Road Chatter 75,” watercolor painting, 30″ x 21″.

How did you discover Pro Tapes® tape products?

One day, after purchasing another brand of tape which I had always used, I found that it no longer worked for me. I searched for an alternative on the web, and that is how I discovered Pro Tapes®.

Which Pro Tapes® tape products do you use in your watercolor painting now? What do you use them for? What do you love about them?

I ended up reaching out to Pro Tapes® with questions on some products. Steve Espinal (Graphic Arts Market Manager at Pro Tapes®) then sent me several tape samples to try. As a result, I now use both Pro® 796 and Pro® Ultimate Masking in my painting process!

Pro® Ultimate Masking tape, shown here in 1" and 2" widths, and a roll of Pro® 796 pH Neutral masking tape.

I use Pro® 796 for elements not directly on the watercolor paper, and Pro® Ultimate Masking directly on the surface of the paper for masking.

I love the fact that both Pro® Ultimate Masking and Pro® 796 are translucent. This allows me to see my drawing underneath. Both tapes are easy to apply and remove, and neither tape requires much pressure on the X-acto knife to trim.

Artist Lynn McLain using Pro® Ultimate Masking tape to mask off areas in his artwork before painting. The translucency of the tape allows him to see his drawing underneath.
Artist Lynn McLain using Pro® Ultimate Masking tape to mask off areas in his artwork before painting. The translucency of the tape allows him to see his drawing underneath.

If someone has never used these masking tapes in their watercolor painting before, what advice would you give them?

I place the tape down over the edge line of the image that I want to mask, then trim out the shape with an X-acto knife. This technique requires some experience to develop the proper amount of pressure on the X-acto knife, so as not to score the watercolor paper surface underneath.

I started this technique using Pro® 796, mainly because I prefer the neutral color, but I experienced some lifting of the paper surface. Then I tried the Pro® Ultimate Masking, and so far have had great results, although I do wish it was more neutral in color.

After trimming your masking tape, it is a good idea to lightly burnish (press down on) the edge and any joints of the tape. Give it a try!

"Once Majestic," watercolor painting, 17" x 30".
“Once Majestic,” watercolor painting, 17″ x 30″.


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