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The last project we worked on in Watercolor Plus class was wax resist with watercolor. Wax in the form of crayon or a white candle has always intrigued me for the textural qualities the watercolor artist can get from it. I often pick up a crayon when I need a bit of sparkling light in a painting somewhere. Here, the crayons I used were made by Crayola. That’s right, just the ones you find on any store shelf. The wax is all in the sunflowers and their leaves and stems. Make sure you push really hard on the crayon or your paint applications may not slide off the wax. I find it best to do all my wax applications prior to painting but think that more wax can be applied in a layering effect. If you want contrast, however, strive for contrasting colors between wax and watercolor applications.

The subject for this painting is just north of me by about 13 miles on my back roads trek to my daughter’s farm. There is a farm on a cross roads that has a gigantic garden and a vegetable stand. In August they have a huge plot of sunflowers blooming right next to the road. It is a site to see!

We just finished our last class of the school year 2014-2015 last night. I save this class until the end each year because it is composed of five different ways to use watercolor with other mediums. It is designed to stretch our creativity and give us other options to use when creating our paintings. It is probably the most challenging of the classes because these take an investment of time that some of the other classes don’t require.

Kathleen Smierciak2

Kathleen Smierciak2

The first week we worked on anything ink and watercolor.

Linda Flatley2

Linda Flatley2

Jan Reche2

Jan Reche2

The second week we worked on Gouache Resist.

Mary Smierciak

Mary Smierciak

Sue Joseph4

Sue Joseph4

On the third week we learned how to make gesso juice, apply it to our paper and create texture in it.

Melissa Scare

Melissa Scare

Roxanne Yoquelet

Roxanne Yoquelet

The fourth week was devoted to learning how to treat National Geographic photos with CitraSolv to make beautifully colored collage papers and use them to create watercolor and collage paintings.

Nancy Longmate5

Nancy Longmate5

Ruth Karau3

Ruth Karau3

On the fifth week we worked on creating paintings using wax resist.

On the sixth and last night everyone worked on a technique where they paint into a soaked piece of watercolor paper, developing the painting as it dries. They could even use pastels and work them into the watercolor.

If you would like to view the other paintings created by these students you can click here or scroll to the top of the page and click on the page that says Student Art: Watercolor Plus 2015.

Thank you to all my students who shared their work here! ūüôā

Cindy Guzik watercolor and ink

Cindy Guzik
watercolor and ink


Nancy Longmate wax resist

Nancy Longmate
wax resist


Dorette Hess citrasolv collage and watercolor

Dorette Hess
citrasolv collage and watercolor


Judy Notestine gouache resist,collage and watercolor

Judy Notestine
gouache resist,collage and watercolor

The above paintings are examples of what the artists in my Watercolor Plus class created.  Watercolor Plus is a nice class to end our yearly sessions with.  They created using watercolor and ink, wax, tape and gouache resists, citrasolv collage and watercolor, and gesso juice surface and watercolor and watercolor and pastel.  If you would like to see more examples of their creations. you can view them by clicking here.

Thank you to all the artists who take my classes and continue to share your creations on the student art page.


The above painting was created with the use of regular Crayola crayons and watercolor.


After drawing the subject, I applied crayon where I thought it was needed. The reference photo does not show all the places I applied the white crayon. The white was the most difficult part of this painting because it is not visible against the white of the watercolor paper once it is applied. I was able to tilt the board this way and that, under a light, and see some of it, but had to remember where I had gone with it while I worked it in. For this reason, I worked the whites into the surface in one sitting working from the left side of the page to the right so I could remember where I had applied it. I was able to use colored crayons on the flowers of the vase portion because the base color of the vase was an off white. Crayon applications will be most visible if they are a contrasting value or color to the watercolors you use around them.  The wax of the crayons resist the watery applications of watercolor.  Also, make sure you apply the crayon to the surface with a lot of pressure. Light applications of the wax crayon does not show up as well because it does not lend enough resistance for the watercolor to slide off its surface. The crayon lays on the top bumps of your textured coldpress watercolor paper ( even more so with rough watercolor paper). This effect helps to add texture to your finished painting.



In the next steps, I painted the flowers and vase and few petals laying at the base. All the speckled whites in the petals of the flowers and strands of spiky grass-like stems are where I had applied crayon.


This is the first application of my background. It sort of set the pattern of what I wanted to happen and I waited for it to dry before the final application of color.

orangeflw   finished painting

In this final step, I darkened the background and the shaded side of the vase to pop the flowers forward and accentuate the light.

I use crayon resist in a lot of my watercolor paintings to accentuate little light spots sparkling off the edges of things, especially if I want it to appear textured.

My students created their paintings for this week using wax resist, ¬†tape resist¬†or both for this week’s assignment. It is a handy technique to have when faced with needing to save whites or add texture to a watercolor.

Thank you to Wet Canvas for the photo reference for this piece.

Today my Granddaughter and I worked on another painting idea from The Usborne Complete Book of Art by Fiona Watt.¬† We changed it up a bit, and added a watercolor wash to our paintings as well as a little wax resist but the technique with the acrylic paint came from her idea in the book. I highly recommend this book for anyone’s art library,¬† young and old alike.

The first thing we did was to draw a ground line across the bottom of our paper (140 lb Arches coldpress)  about one fifth up from the bottom.  We decided to include a moon or sun in our cityscape and traced a circle using the bottom of a small spray bottle. We then colored that in, applying pressure,  with a white crayon to act as a resist to the following wash. We then created our watercolor wash using two colors.  We thoroughly wet the paper, first, with a one inch flat brush and then fed in two colors. My Granddaughter used diox violet and cerulean blue in the wash pictured above. She stroked in her colors one next to the other (one inch flat brush) and tilted her board so the two colors would run and mix  together. We were careful to wipe up any water and pigment surrounding the edges of the paper so they would not run back into this wash, creating blossoms.

While we waited for this wash to dry we:

Cut out different widths of corrugated cardboard strips about 3 to 4 inches in length to be used as our brushes……

Chose to use our set of heavy body acrylics

and layed out the tubes on some paper towels with their respective caps above them so we did not mix tube caps when we went to store them away. She chose the colors brilliant blue, phthalo blue, diox purple and white.

In the next step, we squeezed out short ribbons of the four colors, in no particular order, along that ground line we had drawn earlier.  We then picked up a cardboard strip and used it like a brush, dragging the ribbon of acrylic upward.  We worked this way moving from the left side of the paper to the right to avoid getting our arm in the paint. Lefthanded artists may wish to work right to left.  As we did this, we changed our cardboard strips from wide to narrow to create variations in the shapes and heights of our future buildings.  We discussed things about light and dark, tall and short and if we needed to change a color or two in areas that looked too boring. 

We also pulled some of the pigment below the groundline.  This stage was then allowed to dry completely.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Granddaughter’s Finished Cityscape

The final step was to take black and white acrylic and paint with the edges and corners of the cardboard to furthur define¬†our¬†paintings. ¬†I was amazed at my Granddaughter’s creativity at this stage. She talked about what was the road and when she was painting windows. She created¬†a walkway between buildings.¬† When she saw me put in a streak of white at a diagonal she decided she needed one, also, and reached for a wider section of cardboard and did it.¬† This was¬†a¬† fun and creative afternoon for the two of us and¬†I can envision so many other scenes¬†that can be created this way. The book gives an example of painting a castle.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Grandma’s Finished Cityscape¬†

Grandma’s colors were bronze yellow, cadmium yellow medium hue and cadmium red light hue.¬† The watercolor wash was aureolin and halloween orange.

 click to enlarge

Yesterday it snowed all day.¬† To celebrate the occasion, my Granddaughter and I sat down to do an art project. I recently purchased a wonderful book titled “ The Usborne Complete Book of ART Ideas” by Fiona Watt. My Granddaughter has paged through it, daily, and selected exercises she has wanted to try. She is 4 and a half (it is important to note the half, she says).¬† She has been fascinated with drawing homes and buildings, lately.¬† One section had a lovely example of city buildings that could be rendered using wax resist and watercolor and she asked if she could do that. We, first drew rectangles in pencil using a ruler and discussing the shapes we were creating. Yes. I have to help her hold the ruler and guide her. This is an exercise that I sit right next to her and help her with as she goes and is one that we do a little and come back to. Her attention span is back and forth. She then colored in the rectangles with different colored crayons and added the moon and the stars with crayons. In the next step, we mixed a large amount of prussian blue¬† watercolor and another container with a large amount of harvest gold (quin gold).¬†She covered the sky and a portion of the buildings with prussian blue and finished the buildings with harvest gold using a large flat watercolor brush. We then allowed that to dry.¬† In the next step, she looked at the reference in the book and drew in her windows, doors, steps, and fences using a black crayon. To finish our snow day painting, she spattered the snow in with a round brush and white acrylic gesso.

After she went home, I decided to paint my own “snow day” painting.

One of my students¬†¬†loaned a book to me that had a technique in it that I had not tried before. He thought I might like to see what I could do with it. Thank-you, Henn!¬† The book is “Painting Buildings in Watercolor”¬† by Ranulph Bye.¬† To enhance texture in brick and cobblestone and stone, he uses a technique with oil paint and turpentine.¬† He masks off everything that he does not want to texture with frisket paper. He then mixes three colors of oil paint with turpentine and splatters each color separately onto a pre-wet (with water) area that he wishes to texture. I do not have oil paints but have waterbased oils and turpenoid. I decided to texture an entire piece of watercolor paper using this technique. I mixed, separately, prussian blue, raw sienna, and sepia with some turpentine and splattered them onto my pre wet 140 lb coldpressed watercolor paper.¬† I took it one step further and dragged my flat brush through the paint splatters. The above is what I achieved. Believe me, this is horrendous compared to the beautiful texture that the author of the above book achieved. I liked it, though, and saw a painting wanting to be brought forward.¬† I went in search of¬† winter landscape photo references on wet canvas and came up with two that I liked that I thought had compositions similar to what I saw in my splatters.

 click to enlarge

The above is the painting that came from my textured paper . What I really liked about this is the fog was already there due to the texturing and I just filled in all the negative shapes that were darker in value.  I splattered titanium white watercolor with a toothbrush to finish.

This painting was both tedious and FUN!!! Our Watercolor Plus class worked with wax resist this week.  This class is studying many of the different things that an artist can do with watercolor. We discussed wax resist, sgrafitto (scratching into the painting and salt effects). I drew the scene in graphite, first. Next I pulled out a box of crayons and went to work with yellows, reds and orange crayons. Yes, we used regular old crayons. You can also use candles in various sizes to rub wax on your paper.  This crayoning is the most tedious as you really have to use elbow grease as you apply the color.  Err on the side of applying too much. I always lose some of the wax under the pigment. The other thing to watch out for is that color and value needs to be considered. The artist must paint with either a darker value or a complimentary color to the wax in order for it to show up.  Once the wax is on, the remainder of the painting is painted as a watercolor much like one that does not include the wax.  The trees blackish gray color was achieved with a mixture of violet, june bug, and earthen green pigments. I then dropped salt into them for the textured effect.

This scene is from the corner near the property where I have been painting. I really liked the colors and the broken down gate.


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.


This landscape  painting was created using wax resist. The white clouds in the sky and the field are crayon as well as some of the colors in the trees. The wax in the crayons resist the watercolor allowing them to show through. I have created several interesting paintings with this technique. You can also use candles to create effects on your paper.The candles can be rubbed in over dry watercolor before a second layer is applied. The first layer will show through wherever the candle wax was scrubbed in. When using crayon colors other than white, make sure they are compliments or a different value than the watercolor or the resulting effect is rather dull. This is an excellent technique that can add texture to a watercolor when cold press and rough watercolor papers are used because the wax rides on the bumpy surface and allows the watercolor to settle in the grooves of the paper.

June did a wax resist on one of her chili pepper studies a while back.

47 White Buffalo wrote the following haiku to go along with this watercolor. It reads as follows:

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†” mind open eyes does learn

                                                 waxing watercolors fresh

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† clouds surprise trees new”

Thank-you 47!

Carol tried wax resist in her new painting, today!