This glimpse into my watercolour batik process is for the curious artists out there who keep asking how I do it … and for anyone else who is just curious.
Watercolour Batik Process
My supplies include:
- Ginwashi paper – notice the obvious fibres in it – they help create the texture!
- A paint tray and brushes – I just use a small, inexpensive brush to mix the colour and one of these large hake brushes to apply the paint to the paper
- Watercolour paints
- Paraffin wax
- An encaustic iron to melt the wax
- Sponges, stamps, tiny brushes, etc to apply the wax
First, I edit and crop photos I have taken to decide on the composition. Then I draw the basic image the size I want the finished piece to be. When I am happy with that I go over the lines of my drawing with a back marker.
The Ginwashi paper is quite transparent so I can then trace the drawing onto it with a Micron pen (permanent and waterproof).
Adding a Layer of Wax
Here, the Ginwashi paper is set on top of a piece of wax paper – so the wax doesn’t stick to whatever is underneath it. When I am adding wax I also put a black paper underneath so I can see where it is going.
The purpose of the wax is to preserve the colour of the paper at a given point in time…so, anything that needs to stay white needs to have wax put over it before any paint is applied. In this case I just put a bit of wax in a couple of spots on the water to create some highlights.
Building Up the Colour
Now, I can add the first layer of light colour. Some of the things I think about:
- This is very watery paint and will very quickly run uncontrollably across the paper
- These are transparent watercolours so every layer will show through to the top
- The colour will dry much lighter than it looks going on
- What colours can I layer to get the right colours at the darker layers
Mostly, the goal is just to get the first light colours on there and see where they go. Letting them run into each other creates softer edges and unity of colour in the finished piece.
This then needs to dry before the next wax and watercolour layers can go on.
The Ugly Phase
More wax … you can see how much lighter the colours are now that it has dried.
More paint … and so on. In these early stages it can get to look quite ugly. Everything has the same value, the drawn lines are disappearing and there is little definition.
Five or six layers of wax and watercolour later, the darks get dark enough that I once again begin to feel like there is hope for a successful piece.
Iron off the Wax
When I feel like the piece is finished I make sure the entire surface is covered with wax then place it between layers of newsprint and iron it. The wax comes off onto the newsprint and the image emerges in its finished form! This is my favourite step in the process – and the only thing I like to iron!
Under the Bridge ©Paige Mortensen Watercolour Batik 10×20″
See more about two Saskatoon bridges I did in these blog posts:
– the Broadway Bridge
– the Traffic Bridge
Or, watch a time lapse video of my watercolour batik process.
Thanks for reading!