posted in <<Create! > Featured > THRIVE! EXPERTS

Using wax as a ‘resist’ in watercolor paintings
connecting to the sacred within through art

I’ve tried a number of different waxes as a ‘resist’ to use with watercolor 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 favorite 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 color your paper is). That’s what I’ve done here with the front and back of a bookmark:

Bookmark front

Bookmark back

or, if you have the patience, you can paint a layer of lighter color, 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 colors 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):

wax resist 1

wax resist 2

Another thing you can do with wax and watercolor is a bit more complicated but tons of fun. You can draw on the paper first with markers or colored 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 do 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 colors when you paint – the marker color will mix with your watercolor paint. (I found that out the hard way :-)

a few examples of playing around with that technique:

wax resist 3

Space Cucumber Ship
watercolor, marker, beeswax

wax resist 4

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
share and enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • email
  • PDF
  • Print
  • Add to favorites

posted on September 27, 2010 | tags: ,


  • Mokihana

    March 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Libby, This looks fun. The use of wax might be something I need to ‘allow’ into my world, again. Looking at this and then the Moon Raven link are such fun. Fun and Joy now that’s a partnership, ha!

  • Laura

    December 7, 2012 at 1:23 am

    There is also Susan Scheewe wax resist sticks in art supply stores. I bought them many years before MCS. They are odorless but I don’t know if they had an odor when new. Also, I just read about using wax paper for a resist. Place it over your watercolor paper & draw over it being careful not to rip through the wax paper. I have some I bought at the health food store. Can’t wait to try it as it will be better than the wax stick for details. I’ve also used a Caran D’ache watercolor crayon applied thickly. It’s water soluable but will stay put for a soft edge if you don’t rub hard with your wash. I use Caran D’ache watercolor crayons, and Derwent & Cretacolor woodless pencils. I find these more tolerable than paint & easier to tote around. Put a Niji Waterbrush (a paintbrush with a reservoir for water) & a few pencils & crayons in a bag & you’re ready to paint anywhere.

Leave a reply

* means field is required.