Mar 15, 2010

Using wax as a 'resist' in watercolour paintings

I've not been posting much but have been daily drawing, colouring, painting and more.☺

I've tried a number of different waxes as a 'resist' to use with watercolour paints.

So far, crayons did not work well, beeswax worked okay but is very hard and needs to be scraped down after application or it kind of flakes on top and doesn't resist well.
My favourite wax so far is soy wax. I had some around in the form of run off from a soy wax candle and  it works wonderfully!
Soy wax is very soft compared to beeswax and it glides onto the paper nicely without heavy pressure.
The resist does still work best if the wax is pressed down after application - I do this by running the flat back of my thumbnail over it but one could use any flat, hard object that would not damage the paper.

You can use wax directly on the white paper so that the wax lines will show up white (or whatever colour your paper is).  That's what I've done here with the front and back of a bookmark:

or, if you have the patience, you can paint a layer of lighter colour, wait for it to dry (or use a hair dryer on low - keep it moving to avoid scorching the paper), then use the wax over top.  Then you can paint overtop with darker paint colours like I did with the back piece of a page that is destined to be cut up into whimsical bookmarks (squiggly side is back piece done with the lighter and darker paint method, spiral piece is done with the wax directly on the unpainted paper):

Another thing you can do with wax and watercolour is a bit more complicated but tons of fun.
You can draw on the paper first with markers or coloured pens, go over the marker with wax, then use just plain water on a brush to pick up any marker not covered by wax (dab with paper towel if needed), then paint.  If the markers are waterproof such as Sharpies etc, you don't need to to the stage of picking up excess marker with water.
If they are water soluble markers, this stage is necessary unless you don't mind ending up with muddied, icky colours when you paint - the marker colour will mix with your watercolour paint. (I found that out the hard way :-)

a few examples of playing around with that technique:

Space Cucumber Ship
watercolour, marker, beeswax
If you try this out and post on your site/blog, I'd love if you post links in the comments area!  I'd love to see what others do with this.


  1. Thanks Liberty for the well wishes!

    I love the wax resists on the bottom of your post....would be so cool for a mermaid seascape!

    All the best,

  2. what a great idea Cameron!
    mmmmermaid thoughts swimming around in my mind now :-)

  3. Liberty, thanks for sharing about the soy wax. It sounds nice to work with. Loving your colors!

  4. thanks Shayla!
    I'm a bit addicted to vibrant colours lately :-)
    the soy wax is definitely very nice - smooth. I tried it on regular paper as a resist in an 'altered page' and it worked really well for that too.
    thanks for following my blog!
    I am honoured.

  5. These are lovely. What an interesting technique. I love the colors.

  6. Very cool experimentation...thanks for sharing! I definitely love the color combos - so happy!

  7. Your colorful art pieces have made me smile,my favorite is the rainbow with swirls.Thank you for the comment you made on my blog,I have been neglecting by blog reading but will be back to it soon.

  8. Thank you Linda and Tammy for your kind words :-)


Your comments are valued and appreciated - thank you.
To avoid spam, comments are moderated. Your comment should appear within a day or so.
Bright blessings upon you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...