Watercolor Resist Painting

by Wendy Copley on March 19, 2012

Resist Painting

The boys and I have inadvertently settled into a habit of crafting together after school about once per week. In the past, I’ve tried really hard to get the boys to do art projects with me as a regular thing but they were never all that interested. I sought out projects I thought they’d be interested in, but the harder I tried the more they resisted. Funny how that works.

The past few weeks have been different though and I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s changed. I think it’s partly because of the monthly boxes we’ve been getting from Kiwi Crate*. After having already completed six fun projects they get excited to see the green boxes come in the mail and they look forward to sitting down to work on them. (I should probably do a full review of the Kiwi Crate boxes soon.) I’m sure it also helps that Wyatt recently made a conscious decision to like art and drawing, while Augie just likes to make a mess.

Resist Painting

Last Friday I was looking for a way to distract the boys from their constant bickering and I decided to try out a water color resist technique that’s been making the rounds on Pinterest. I was inspired to try this activity after seeing this post on Alisa Burke’s lovely blog. The technique is dead simple: draw with white crayon on white paper and then paint over it with watercolors to reveal your picture.

Resist Painting

I started off by drawing a picture for each of the boys to get them started. Augie was so excited about me coloring on the paper with white crayon that he immediately grabbed one of his own and added to his drawing before I even got the paint out.  Once we started painting, we all had trouble getting our crayon drawings to reveal themselves, but Augie didn’t care about that at all.

Glue Smashing

He painted for the sake of painting for a bit and then spent the rest of our art time twisting glue sticks up and down and smashing them onto the paper.

Resist Painting

Wyatt was less zen about the problems we were having with the resist technique and he quickly got frustrated by the process. After some experimentation we figured out that the crayon revealed itself better when the paint was thinner and watery while thick, saturated paint covered the crayon.

Resist Painting

This was our best resist painting when we used the white crayon. If you look closely you might spot the shape of a sun there. I’m not sure what we did wrong. Maybe our paper was too thin or our crayon wasn’t thick enough? Thoughts?

Resist Painting

When Wyatt’s frustration got to be too much, I decided to switch to a black crayon. I drew this grid with the idea that I’d fill each square randomly with a different color, but when Wyatt started helping me we quickly fell into this rainbow pattern. As we worked, I asked him if he knew about “rainbow order” and then that led to a discussion of the color spectrum which itself led to us talking about ROY G BIV. When he couldn’t guess what ROY G BIV stood for, I demonstrated by painting each letter on the appropriate color. Wyatt quickly took over the labeling of the rest of the page, but he thought the “I” and “V” for indigo and violet were bunk so he switched to a nice, sensible “P” for purple. He quickly decided that his letters were messier than he liked so I showed him that he could change the thickness of his letters by varying the amount of pressure he put on the brush.

Seriously — how many different lessons did we manage to jam into a painting that took 10 minutes to complete? I freaking love art!

Resist Painting

OK — there’s one more thing I wanted to show you! See this toilet paper roll? I got the idea for this from a post on Stacy Julian’s blog. Wrap a couple rubber bands around a roll of toilet paper, then use it for dabbing the water off wet brushes and blotting the excess paint off of paintings. This was the first time we tried it but Stacy said that they’ve been using the same roll of toilet paper for a year. It worked wonderfully!

What sort of art and craft projects have you been enjoying with your kids? Or all by yourself?


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  • I used t

  • Thanks for the suggestion — I’ll try different paper next time!

  • Those Kiwi crates sound awesome. 

    I’ve never gotten that crayon paint thing to work well with white crayons before, only with other colors.

  • Pappy

    You probably have already done this, but one fun thing is to paint the page with water color then cover it all with black crayon. When the whole page is black, you scratch out your design with a pin or a knife or something.

  • Brightning

    When I do watercolor resist with my daughter, I first have her use rubber cement on watercolor paper. Let it dry, then watercolor on it. Once the paint dries, vigorously rub the paper to remove the rubber cement. For really spectacular results, sprinkle salt on the paint while it’s wet.

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  • Amy Johnson

    Love this post! It’s been so long since I’ve tried watercolor resist painting–does the type of crayon make a difference too (not all crayons are equal)? How do you like the Kiwi Crate overall? The boys don’t argue over the materials do they?

  • Pingback: Review and Giveaway: Kiwi Crate — Monthly Craft Projects for Kids | Wendolonia()

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