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This week in watercolor plus class we worked with wax resist. We actually used regular crayons for our paintings. One thing I have to concentrate on is getting enough crayon or wax on the paper to resist the color.  Crayon color with the same value of watercolor used, doesn’t create much of an effect. What I like about this technique is the textured look  it gives the painting. It also helps me to be a little more loose than I would normally be with the same scene. I also used a technique called sgrafitto (  simply means “to scratch” ). I lost the wax resist in the foreground grasses so used a scratching tool and a razor blade and scratched them back into the paper. If your intent is to scratch back to the white of the paper, beware not to paint over the scratch marks as the pigment will settle into the grooves and make the scratches darker. We also talked about using ink for some of the tiny branches in a scene like this. I used ink for the little branches on the red tree at the left.


another wax resist

I should add that I always spray wax resist and watercolor with a light layer of matte fixative for storage purposes due to the wax. I haven’t had any problems with this.


  1. Geez woman, I can’t keep up!

    More wonderful paintings! Love the wax resist technique and will give it a try this week. Love the fall foliage.

    Where did you get the reference for the Moose painting. Is there a large moose population in Fort Wayne? 🙂

    • Thanks, Carol! Wax resist is fun…but make sure you press hard on that cold press paper.
      The moose was from Artist’s Photo Reference: Wildlife book by Bart Rulon. Did you notice I messed up on the antlers by not getting enough wax on them?

  2. Beautiful paintings, Leslie. Are these classes you teach?

    • Thank-you, Cecily. Yes. Watercolor Plus class deals with other things you can do with watercolor, including collaging, wax, gouche, charcoal, ink, gesso, etc. In six weeks we can’t possibly get everything in, but try to cover enough that it keeps us going and exploring for quite some time.

  3. Hi Leslie
    You’re certainly busy!
    The colours are really sumptuous.

    I didn’t know that it’s also called scrafitto when you scratch into the paper.I believe artists used this technique frequently in the past when they didn’t have the liquid frisquit/masking fluid.
    With kids I get them to use scrafitto techniques but by putting on 2 layers of oil pastel (of contrasting tones or colour). Then they scratch back to the first layer by using scissors held on their side.It’s good for making patterns or for drawing water in oil pastel if you put white first & then cover with blues & greens.
    Now you’ve given me an idea- I might try the method I just described & combine with the wax resist . Up till now I ‘ve always taught the 2 techniques seperately but it could be a follow up activity.

    • Thank-you, Sonya. Yes, I have heard of this technique being used to reveal an underlying color in other mediums. It is also used to distress watercolor paper for a textured effect. When a wash is painted over the marks the pigment will be darker in the grooves of the scratch marks. After painting, I was even able to lightly scrape over the crayon marks to clear some of the pigment away and allow it to shine brighter. I think two or three techniques can work nicely together. I try to get students to think outside the box when they run up against a roadblock to their piece. I’d rather see them use what they have been taught to push their piece one or two more steps if the trash can is where they think they are going to put it. Oftentimes, what is wrong is simply that it is not finished!

      • PS to Sonya. You can also save some of the base color in watercolor by rubbing white candle wax over the surface of your initial wash. Wherever the wax rests (usually on the bumps of the textured paper), the first layer shows through when you apply the next color. The second color will settle into the grooves surrounding the bumps and give a textured effect.

      • Too true!

      • In case what I just wrote doesn’t make sense, here I was referring to the not finishing aspect.

  4. I did not notice anything wrong with the moose’s antlers until you mentioned them.Love both the fall landscape and moose.I am not sure when I say that if we use wax crayon, it tries to blend in with watercolor but with pastels, it stands out.

    • Thank-you for the comment, Raji! I think the reason the crayon blends more with the watercolor is because the pigment added to them is not as strong as for artist quality pastels. Had I used artist quality oil pastel for the resist rather than crayon, they would have popped, also. I haven’t quite had much success with oil pastel and watercolor. There are artists who have and I’ve seen many examples. I have stuck with the crayon, also, because it is easier to fix the surface and store.

  5. I really like these two paintings. Fall is my favorite season because of the colors, and I think you captured that perfectly.

    • Thank-you Littlelynx! If you try this with one of your ATCs, spray it with matte fixative after the watercolor dries. That helps for better storage.

  6. Once again, great paintings!
    I also have a question. How do you do the click on picture, to get full size pic? I don’t think mine is doing that.

    • Thanks Ryan!
      Hope I can help you out, here. I don’t know how to change all the art you already have on your blog, but the next time you post, after you upload your image from your computer, wordpress shows you a white frame that says ADD MEDIA FILES FROM YOUR COMPUTER. You see your image in this box. Below where it says LINK URL, there are three rectangular boxes one says NONE….one says FILE URL…and the other says LINK URL. You click FILE URL. Then insert into post. If you don’t mess with that, every image from now on will load to enlarge.

      • Hi Leslie
        I’d been wondering that myself. Another piece of useful advice from you. I’ll try that next time I get round to posting anything. Thanks.

      • All my files are sized medium before I insert.

  7. I just love the moose… and your trees are always very impressive! An explosion of colors!

    • Thank-you Isabelle. I agree with you on the explosion part. That’s what it felt like as I was painting it. One color after another.

  8. i like this technique but finding the time to do the projects you inspire are at a premium these days. these are colourful but not overpowering. thanks for showing this

    • Thanks, Kokot. I think you do quite a bit. I haven’t done a video, a poem, or a song and you do!

  9. Love the techniques Leslie! Something has happened, lately your paintings are filled with light. They pulse and hum with light. It is difficult to explain but I feel momentarily transported into the scene, almost as if I want to squint, like I’m leaving a dark room and coming into the sunlight.

    • Thanks, Jay. I wonder if I’m paying more attention to that and not obsessing so much on the actual forms of everything in a scene. Now, watch. I’ll not be able to do it again.

  10. Very nice moose painting. love to try this technique on my painting. Just a common crayon will do or i need to use the wax from a white candle.

    • Thanks, Francis. Yes. Common crayon works. Remember to rub in a lot as you go and use way bright crayon colors with darker paint or the other way around. If the crayon is the same value or tone as the watercolor, the crayon won’t show up. Yes. You can use a wax candle if you want to save some sparkly white of the paper or you can use a candle(preferably white) over a dry watercolor wash to save areas of that color when you apply a second wash. Have fun!

  11. These paintings are wonderful, Leslie! I tried the wax resist a long time ago, but I tried to be too precise with it and it didn’t produce a happy result. I’m going to try it again with a looser painting. Thanks for reminding me that it’s a fun option.

    • Thanks,Beth. You are right. The precise thing has to go out the window with this technique. I just kept reminding myself that I was looking for texture as I did these.

  12. You are productive aren’t you?! I am particularly struck by the colours in the first one – beautiful.

    • Thank-you, Sarah. I had to change some colors in that one to make it work. Yhe large red tree to the right of center was supposed to be pale yellow and orange. It looked awful that way, so I pulled the reds in from the two outside trees and that seemed to help. Then I felt I had to use that red in my darks. Kind of weird, but think it worked for this painting, anyway.

  13. hey Les, these are beautiful….can’t wait to come home and do something with you and see what you have been doing…

  14. I’m in love with this image, Leslie… 🙂

    • Thank-you, Deva. I’m guessing you are referring to the top one that includes a pond. I think the woods and water and natural beauty of nature has captured you from an early age. Your photographs are living proof of that. I am trying more with landscapes, now, because of you and other bloggers who are inspiring me to think of landscapes.

        • Deva
        • Posted October 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm
        • Permalink

        I am glad to hear that. Yes, I have always lived closed to the woods, and my mother let me play there as long as the sun was up, so me and my friends got very close to nature and love it! Of course I love the other painting as well, but there was something about the pond, I think, that stole my attention.

  15. This is what I do all the time in class and at home, except I use oil pastels and then use Quink (Parker pen ink) over it, and apply bleach. The effects are pretty much the same as what you are trying to achieve here, except yours look really professional!Amazing work Leslie.

    • I wondered what quink was. Thank-you for such a nice comment, Heather. I like the way you are approaching your work and I can assure you that you are traveling a path into art that is much more formal than my explorations.

      • Thank you Leslie. I really appreciate your kind comments.

        Quink comes in bottles and you just apply it to your image with a paintbrush. Then you go over the top of it with bleach, and the effects are amazing. I’d be lost without it these days!

      • Thanks for this explanation, Heather. It is maybe something I can use in watercolor plus class after I try it.

  16. Beautiful paintings 🙂

  17. Wow! My wrist is aching after scrolling down through so many comments – you deservedly have a huge following.

    Trees, texture, light, looseness, special effects – and all together – how lovely!

    These celebrate the glory of autumnal colours and the way the pale sunlight hits Mr. Moose – 2 very different paintings using the same techniques. Both are difficult subjects that you’ve made look so easy.

    And once again, a plethora of useful and interesting technical tips…thank you Leslie.

    • Thank-you,June. I am very grateful to everyone for these comments. You all have helped me to discover about 10 techniques I have not used with my classes, previously. I do visit you all and will continue to do so. I am hoping that my students take the time to use all of you as resources as well. You commented on how different these two paintings are. I find simple crayon wax resist a very interesting addition to watercolor and I have probably only touched the “tip of the iceberg” with its possibilities. It is fun and a little unpredictable offering itself up for happy accidents.

  18. Leslie, love your colours and compositions. and thank you for sharing your process. r.

  19. Really like that moose!

    • Thanks, Bill! Liked your watercolor a LOT! That is brave to venture into an infrequent medium.

  20. Oh, beautiful! The fall colors are perfect for now. Love the moose – or is it elk – ??? (I’m a city girl! LOL!) Anyway, they’re perfect.

    • I “screwed up”on the antlers on this guy, Jamie, and that is why you question moose or elk, I think. He is moose. Thank you!

  21. the moose and the foliage simply shine out at you Leslie, he looks positively golden and graceful..and everywhere the eye looks, there’s something different to pick out, background and foreground. Lovely, just lovely. xPenx

    • Thanks, Pen. It does sort of look like different things to pick out. if I span it. Thank you for pointing that out, Pen……. Sort of like verse only a painting?

      • true enough Leslie, sometimes I read a piece over and find something I missed first reading, a subtle play on words perhaps, just as you’d use a subtle stroke to define movement or texture in your painting. Adds a little touch of magic. you magician you!! Thanks for sharing, makes me appreciate art all the more when I read how much goes into the finished masterpiece. and that’s how I view everything you’ve done, It will live on… xPenx

      • What an uplifting comment refferring to me as a magician! Thank you, Pen! I never thought of it quite that way and I believe writers, musicians and artists share that in common.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Moose! « Leslie White on 01 Sep 2011 at 6:07 pm

    […] had painted one moose, prior to this, several years ago here. Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "0"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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