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Will you Resist?

January 8, 2012

Since I’ve started writing this Blog my eyesight for spotting Art has become sharper. Now, while scanning our surroundings, I tend to notice things that earlier no doubt would have slipped unnoticed. Just the other day, strolling through a shopping centre, I was drawn to a small exhibition of children’ artwork. From the distance it looked as a cacophony of colour, yet if anyone (other than the children’ family members) would have bothered to inspect every single drawing, they would have been amazed, as the fantasy and creativeness was truly vast.

The artwork, that I liked the most, pictured angles and was created using wax – some of the areas of the paper remained white, while the others were flooded with bright watercolours. I remembered doing something similar at school, but as it was a long time ago, I decided to refresh my knowledge.

If you’re up to exploring old/new painting techniques you won’t be able to resist! Please go through the summary of everything I managed to find out and dip your brushes into paint and water.

— — —

Wax Resist is defined as a technique where a waxy medium is used to create a design; afterwards a wash of colour is layered over the design to create a desired effect.

Wax Resist Technique can be used decorating:

    1. pottery; (The resist can be used both under or over underglazes, glazes, and slips to create designs. These decorative elements can be quite simple or incredibly complex. A resist is especially helpful in keeping glaze from adhering to a pot’s foot, and in the case of a lidded jar, from keeping the areas the lid and the jar meet free from glaze.)
    2. textiles; (Resist dyeing is a term for a number of traditional methods of dyeing textiles with patterns. Methods are used to “resist” or prevent the dye from reaching all the cloth, thereby creating a pattern and ground. The most common forms use wax or some type of paste, which is applied to cloth before being dipped in dye. Wherever the wax has seeped through the fabric, the dye will not penetrate. Sometimes several colors are used, with a series of dyeing, drying and waxing steps.)
    3. Easter eggs;  (Use a stylus to apply wax in refined, precise patterns, or try a crayon for simple motifs, then dip the eggs in dye. The color doesn’t adhere to the wax, so when you melt it away, you reveal the design.)

Watercolour and the Big Brush

Wax Resist Painting Technique is an exciting one to explore as there are so many possible uses of waxy mediums and washes. By the way, it has been used by major artists. For e.g. Henry Moore (1898 – 1986), a noted British sculptor, used the resist technique to work out compositions for large sculptures of figures, many of which were then cast in bronze. His sketchbooks are full of drawings using this technique.

With the resist technique you can use wax crayons, candle, encaustic (hot wax), or OP (anything that isn’t water-soluble) to make initial marks, for e.g. marking in some highlights. Afterwards you lay on washes in a water-based medium – watercolours, gouache, ink. You can work with simple marks and washes and as you progress you could be quite complex and more adventurous in your combinations of resist and wash.

Anyway, the wax-resist painting technique is very simple to learn and produces very effective, fast results.

You will need: paper, watercolour paints, a brush (use a big one that’ll hold a lot of paint, rather than a small one), some wax crayons (if you don’t have any, a wax candle will also work, though it’s not as easy to draw with).

The Outcome of My First Attempt

Simply draw with a wax crayon (white is probably most effective – it will create a little bit of a mystery as to why the paint hasn’t covered some of the areas of the paper). Keep it simple – the wax-resist technique works best with strong lines, not fussy details. To see what you’re drawing when using a white wax crayon, put the paper near a light source such as a lamp or window, and you’ll be able to see the wax shining on the paper.

Next step is to paint over with watercolor. Use a large brush that will hold a lot of paint, rather than a small brush that you have to keep reloading with paint. And rather mix up more watercolor paint than you think you’ll need than run out! Then simply apply the paint boldly, using strong colors so the design stands out.

The wax crayon repels the paint, revealing the image you’ve created – the paint will either run off or will collect in little drops on the wax crayon marks.

Information about Wax Resist Technique found on Wikipedia,, WetCanvas and CreativeGlossary.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 10:08 pm

    Sadly I’m not very arty at all! I have the occasional dabble with a joint piece with my beau – but that’s about it – I guess I am arty in other ways – and definitely have an artistic eye, however, I’ll stick to being a musician I think 😉

  2. January 12, 2012 4:37 pm

    Any form of Art is great and I think that you are artistic – your blog looks really nice, you could say it’s clean and minimalistic, yet to my mind it’s classy!

    I love music and I wish that bear, that is sleeping on my ear, would go away 😉

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