Students will learn how to introduce melted wax in the process of watercolour painting to create unusual background throughout. In this class, Bev will demonstrate how easy it is to develop this painting of the Lion's Head Lighthouse. This technique may be used for future paintings for landscapes, birds, stone, lighthouses and to an unlimited imaginative references! Enjoy the unexpected in your next painting!
Welcome to this unusual course in which we add melted paraffin wax to our watercolour painting! You may use this technique in future paintings with different references. Bev will share five of her paintings that she used this method. At the end of this lecture, let's get organized by printing off the supply list, lighthouse photo reference, transfer paper and instructions if you wish to make notes as we go!
If you wish to draw this lighthouse, please feel free. But, there are students who are intimated to do free-hand drawing. Bev offers a method in which anyone can transfer an image unto watercolour paper. Back in lecture one, you would have printed the reference as well as an outline transfer of the lighthouse. Use either a window or a light box and tape on the backside of the outline transfer paper. With a lead pencil, go over all the lines. Then flip over to the printed side and tape the two top corners on your watercolour paper. This time, use a pen and go over the lines again. The pressure of the pen will transfer the lead or graphite, of the image onto the paper. The lead may be light, but that's just fine. There should be enough for you to use your pencil and go over the light areas, using your printed reference of the lighthouse as a guide. How easy is that!
In this workshop, you can mount it either horizontally or vertically, depending if you wish to have more sky or more rocks.
In watercolours, we often use the white of the paper. In order to protect our 'whites', we use masking fluid or frisket. In this particular workshop, we do not want to use too much of the masking fluid or frisket, because it is difficult to remove, because of the heat of the iron needed to remove the wax. Bev demonstrates several ways 'how to' apply this fluid.
Make 3 medium value washes of Ultramarine blue, New Gamboges (or Gamboge Hue) and Alizarin Crimson.
Wet your entire paper with a Hake brush, wait for a few minutes, then apply these colours that I used. Or you can easily substitute these colours with your own and apply them differently onto the paper. Allowing these colours to mix on the paper and slowly drying, it will be a very soft blend of colour, as a background. These may or may not show, but if they do, it would add a bit of interest to your painting.
WAXING: When your painting is dry, you can start adding your melted wax. Paraffin wax used for canning jar is very economical to use. Old large coffee tins is great to use and this tin sits in hot water till the wax is all melted. I use a dedicated 2 inch old brush and apply the melted wax on top of your painting, in different directions.
CREASING: After 10 minutes, the wax hardens and the next step is very messy. Either go outside or go over a large waste bin and start creasing the paper in different directions. Crease the lighthouse horizontally and keep changing directions of the creasing. Wax is expected to fall off and that is what you want! The more time you spend, creasing the better outcome of your painting!
Flatten out your painting and place in a large tub or sink, submerged under water for 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain the water and take out your soaked painting. I placed mine on a large wood board to take it to the studio. The reason that we do this, is to saturate the fibres so the dark wash of paint would seep through the cracks where the wax has fallen. Use an old stiff flat brush because it will pick up some wax and the hairs may split.
Make a dark watercolour wash. Again, it is your choice of colours! I used Ultramarine blue in this painting. In the past I mixed two colours right on the painting (for example Ultramarine blue and Alizarin Crimson). So much fun!
To remove the wax, put several layers of newsprint (avoid colour print) over and under the watercolour paper, and run an old iron on a setting of medium to high heat over the paper repeatedly. Avoid ironing excessively over the masking areas of the lighthouse. The heat melts the wax and lets it soak into the newsprint. Change the newsprint often until most of the wax is off as possible. Remove the masking fluid to reveal the white areas. Note: the masking fluid will be difficult to remove, because of the heat during the ironing process, but eventually you will be able to remove it. Redraw any lines that have disappeared.
At this point all your wax and masking fluid has been removed. I would suggest to leave the iron nearby, just in case there is wax still remaining. You will certainly know, when you begin painting. You can use any of your colours on your palette to paint behind the lighthouse. I decided to use a medium value of Ultramarine blue. All of a sudden, your lighthouse pops up, just by negative painting. Do not forget to paint the pocket of sky inside the top of the lighthouse. As I was reaching the horizon, I used a graded wash of the Ultramarine blue.
Make a medium wash of Alizarin crimson and paint the door, shingles and canopy. To create shadows, add Burnt umber to this mixture and paint the right side of the chimney, railing and facing of door canopy. Now your lighthouse is becoming alive!
Make a large wash of a medium value of a shadow mixture using Ultramarine blue and Alizarin crimson. Paint the right side of the lighthouse. When this dry apply a darker value of shadow where the photo reference is telling you.
In my painting I used Winsor blue, because I knew that it was a very different pigment from Ultramarine blue used in the sky. I deliberately left a space for the chain.
To paint the rocks, I used either Burnt umber or Ultramarine blue, letting the pigment mix on the paper. Scraping your brush also introduces new rock crevices.
Before starting this last workshop, stand back about 7 feet away and ask yourself, am I missing any painted areas. I realized that I missed adding a light source in my lighthouse and at the top of the lighthouse; Also, I missed painting the sky near the light source.
Go ahead and paint the fence posts and chain. You may have to add more darks in the rocks or on the lighthouse.
I always enjoy painting watercolours with batik because of the unexpected outcome and nice surprise.
I look forward seeing YOUR picture of your paintings done by this technique!
Smile! You did a FANTASTIC job!
Proud member of the Southampton Art Gallery and School in Canada since 2011. I have enjoyed my two passions 'travel and watercolours' by teaching on art conventions and on two cruise lines. I’ve learned to instill art appreciation to my students and promote creativity. I have proved the ability to maintain a highly motivated classroom and offer individualized support and provide encouragement to ensure that each student succeeds. I am mostly self taught, but enjoy taking workshops with other artists to learn and continuing growing as an artist.