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Deb Ward Art Blog

Batik Waterlilies

by debward , March 30, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: batik, technique, watercolor

This technique utilizes the traditional batik method of wax resist - but on rice paper instead of cloth. Wax is applied on the lightest areas, paint applied and the paper is allowed to dry completely before another layer of wax is applied, etc. I usually use freezer paper to lay my painting on. Lay the painting on the shiny side when applying the wax, then turn it over to the dull side while applying your paint. Be careful when handling the wet painting - the rice paper is very delicate when wet.

The final process is to cover the paper completely with wax, allow it to dry, then crinkle the paper which breaks the wax in some places. Some artists then coat the paper with Sumi-E ink; I generally use a dark tone of watercolor to complement the other colors in the painting.

After the painting is allowed to dry completely the wax is ironed off by laying the painting between pads of newspaper (to soak up the wax) with a clean piece of paper on either side of the painting (you could use clean white paper, but I have a large pad of newsprint that does the trick) constantly changing the clean paper as the wax is absorbed into it (this can take lots of newsprint).

The process is time consuming and messy, not something I do with regularity, but it can be fun, and it's always a surprise when the wax is removed. The colors are usually somewhat muted. This technique works best with very specific values in the painting.

Ideally the painting is complete once the wax is removed, but if you find an area you don't like, you can use acrylic to make changes.

If you have a very steady hand, and don't drip too much (because trust me, you will get wax drips where you didn't intend to put them, but once the wax hits the paper it's there to stay!) you can get some very realistic images.

1 - I use "Gulf Wax" which can be found in the canning section of the grocery, and some very cheap, or very old, brushes - once they go into the wax you will never be able to get that wax out. You can also use a "tjanting" tool. I have a small (6×6) electric skillet that I use to heat the wax - when I'm done I let the wax cool down, put on the lid and store it away. 2 - Caution: Just be careful not to let the wax smoke - it can become explosive if it gets too hot. You can also purchase wax melters from some of the art supply stores; they will not overheat, but they are more expensive. 3 - Do not use your usual palette or good watercolor brushes - the wax will be picked up onto your brush and distributed on your palette. Instead, use some cheaper brushes and a styrofoam plate which can be discarded after use.




  Stella Reinwald

04/03/2008 * 13:27:42

Your water lilies are so lovely, I found myself inspired to try this process, and also wishing I had sheets with this image on them! You should sell your designs to one of the big manufacturers of sheets/towels, etc.



  Michael Mize ( homepage )

03/30/2008 * 15:05:40

Very cool idea doing batiks on rice paper! I've always loved the look of batiks, and while it is fairly labor intensive, it's one of those processes that for some reason doesn't annoy me as much. I think perhaps because there is a fair amount of randomness, and a lack of control to it that forces you to just relax and have fun. And it looks like that's just what you did. Thanks for sharing!

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