Are you ready to do your first batik? It’s easy. Gather your supplies from last week’s blog and let’s get started. There is nothing exact about this – you WILL get paint where you don’t want it. You WILL get wax where you don’t want it. That is actually what makes this technique look so artsy and cool. Somehow it all works out in the end, so…Prepare to be Amazed with Yourself!
Heat Your Wax
If you are using a wax pot from my website, simply place a chunk of wax into the pot (I like to use a small cat food can or Vienna Sausage can in the wax pot, so I have more wax available at all times). If you are not using a wax pot, USE ONLY AN APPLIANCE WITH A TEMPERATURE CONTROL! You must have control of the temperature at all times.
HEAT THE WAX, S L O W L Y, starting with a low temp. Then gradually increase it to the final temperature of around 200 degrees. You do not want the wax to smoke because it is petroleum based and we should not breathe the smoke. If you heat it slowly, it won’t smoke. Don’t worry. While the wax is heating…
Prepare Your Rice Paper
Ginwashi rice paper (always available on my website) comes in large sheets of around 25 x 37″. This size is large enough for more than one painting! You will want to tear it down to the correct size. If you are joining us in this first easy lesson, then CLICK HERE TO PRINT OUT THE ORIGINAL DESIGN PDF.
This is the design that you will transfer to your rice paper. The size is approximately 9 x 11, so you’ll need to tear off a piece of rice paper that size. It’s simple! Lay the rice paper out flat and place the Original Design underneath. You’ll notice that you can see it thru the semi-transparent rice paper? Now wet a brush with water and just draw a line of water on the rice paper, tracing the 9 x 11 outside edge of the original design. Then place your fingers close to that wet edge and just tear the 9 x 11 piece off! So far, so good yes?
Now, put the rest of the large piece of Ginwashi away. You are going to use only the small 9 x 11 piece. Place this piece on top of the Original Design. Since you can see thru the rice paper, it’s an easy matter to just trace the design onto the rice paper. Be sure you use A PERMANENT, WATERPROOF pen. If you are not using a Micron Pigma, double check your pen to be sure it is not only permanent, but WATERPROOF. Sharpies are not waterproof. There’s nothing that can ruin your day quicker than tracing an intricate design onto the rice paper only to have it run off with your first wash!
So, trace on your design and get ready to wax by placing the freezer paper (shiny side up), waxed paper and your WAX ONE diagram in this order:
Now you’re ready to roll.
Let’s Think About This
The wax is used as a resist. This simply means that anywhere you place the wax, paint can not go into the paper. If you’ve ever done watercolor, masking fluid has the same purpose. You are ‘saving paper’ whenever you wax it. It will stay the same as it is at that point. With that in mind, it makes sense that the first thing we always wax are the WHITES.
Get It On
You’re ready for your first wax application! CLICK HERE TO PRINT OUT WAX ONE DIAGRAM.
Then place it underneath your rice paper to do the waxing, if you wish. You will wax all of the darkened areas. These are actually the areas that will remain white!
We discussed wax brushes in last week’s blog post, so you should be ready to go. Dip that brush into the melted wax. TIP – and this is important – DIP YOUR BRUSH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE METAL FERRULE. This metal ferrule keeps the wax hot, so if you don’t dip it down that far it will cool much quicker. Dip it deep into the wax! Then slide the brush against the side of the can or the pot (to get off excess drippiness) then right over to your rice paper and paint the wax onto one of the darkened areas. These are things I like to remember while waxing:
- Dip the brush deep, down to the ferrule.
- Put my finger on the spot where I want to place the wax. That way, I don’t have to hunt for it while the wax is getting cool on my brush.
- The wax should go onto the paper smooth and CLEAR. If it’s not clear, it is one of two things: Either the wax is too cool (turn the temp up slightly, not too much), OR you’ve put a double coat of wax onto the paper. When you coat it a second time, it gets thicker and looks white. No problem. You just have to iron longer at the end. 🙂
- When I’m finished waxing, I remove the Waxing Diagram from under the rice paper and slide a piece of dark paper underneath. Strangely enough, this helps me see exactly where I’ve waxed – those places look darker. I check my rice paper against the waxing diagram to be sure I’ve waxed everything.
- No matter what, even if you can’t see them, you can always FEEL where the wax is.
Washing on Color
You do not have to be a good watercolorist to do batik because all of the washes are simple, flat washes. They are easy! You main concern will be VALUE. You must start LIGHT in order to have contrast at the end of the painting. You need at least three values – light, medium and dark – although many more are acceptable, of course!
Step One Wash of Color
Mix up a light value Yellow Green (New Gamboge + Payne’s Gray) or another yellow green of your choosing. Remember it is a light value. Pick up only a small amount of paint in your brush. The rice paper does not have sizing, so the less wash in your brush the more control you have. After all, if you pick up one drop of color how far can one drop go? Get the idea? The more you pick up, the more it will spread.
In some cases the paint will run no matter what you do – DON’T WORRY! Expect it to happen. It’s entirely alright for soft color to edge out into other areas. What you don’t want is a sharp edge of color! So, when paint runs outward, simply take extra water in your brush and soften the edge. As long as there’s not a hard line, it’s alright for color to be there! REALLY! I wouldn’t kid about this. Remember last week I told you that batiks made me LOOSEN UP? This is why – paint runs – don’t freak out – soften edges – learn to love it – all okay in the end.
So, paint the Yellow Green mix inside the window area as shown in the photo. Then paint over the background outside of the window, too. Pick up Cobalt Blue and continue downward, finishing off the rest of the background. You may go right over the green leaves and stems! They’ll be darker later on, so it’s no big deal.
LET THIS DRY. BE SURE THAT EACH WASH DRIES THOROUGHLY BEFORE YOU PUT ANY WAX ON TOP. This is important…think of dropping wax into a pail of water. When it hits the surface of the water it hardens immediately. That is exactly what happens when hot wax hits any wet paper – it dries instantly and doesn’t actually penetrate the paper – and when you put on the next wash it scoots right under the wax! CAN YOU USE A HAIR DRYER? Yes, but don’t melt the wax. Low temp and keep it moving.
Once the paper is dry you can apply WAX TWO. CLICK HERE TO PRINT WAX TWO.
All of the dark areas are waxed. The wax dries instantly, so soon as you’ve finished with Wax Two, you can go directly to STEP TWO Wash.
Step Two Wash of Color
Wash a medium value Winsor Violet over the iris petals. It might seem scary, but remember that all of the white places have been saved by the previous coats of wax! So, go ahead and wash on the color – medium value now. That’s it. Let it all dry. I sometimes go throw in a load of laundry while my piece is drying.
Do the STEP THREE WAX and Step Three Washes.
Step Three Wash
Wash over some of the petals one more time with the same Medium value Winsor Violet mixture. See in the photo how the bottoms of the large petals are a bit darker? I touch a bit more paint into those areas. Gives them a bit more form. Then touch a bit of the violet onto some of the leaves. This helps to unify the whole thing…..so the leaves and iris will look like they belong together.
Then mix a medium navy blue (Winsor Blue + Brown Madder, OR you could use Indigo Blue). Wash this onto all of the petals that appear more blue. Most of them are the ‘back’ petals. The blue color will help push them back a bit.
Mix two additional colors for the leaves: Medium value green (New Gamboge + Paynes Gray) and Dark value blue green (Winsor Blue + Burnt Umber). Paint the leaves with these greens, dabbing extra bits of Winsor Blue here and there over the wet dark green leaves, only if it pleases you. DRY COMPLETELY.
CLICK HERE for STEP FOUR WAX. THIS WAXING DIAGRAM IS DIFFERANT THAN THE OTHERS. Up to this point we have always waxed the dark areas. In this case, there’s just too much to wax. As a matter of fact, EVERYTHING gets waxed except for the tiny darkened areas on Wax Four diagram. Understand? At this point, everything except for the small dark areas on Wax Four will be waxed. These remaining unwaxed areas will be where the final darks must be placed, so they are important!
Now For the Final Wash of Color!
Mix a medium value violet brown (Brown Madder + touch of Winsor Blue). Pick up this color on your big flat brush and wiggle it over the rice paper, trying to find any unwaxed place that remains. Sometimes there may be a surprise! If there are small places, leave them. They will be lovely. Just blot off anything you don’t like.
I KNOW YOU’RE ANXIOUS TO FINISH, but my time is up for today. Do one other thing for me – COAT THE RICE PAPER ALL OVER WITH ONE FINAL COAT OF WAX. We want to be sure that every naked space has been covered – at least once.
We will meet here again next Tuesday to talk about applying more texture and removing the wax.
Don’t forget that we are GIVING AWAY A TRIP TO SPAIN! You can CLICK HERE to enter. There are 20 more days to enter. I’ve gotten a lot of really interesting entries. You guys never fail to make my smile – even laugh out loud. Thanks so much…and thanks again for reading my blog.
Whatever questions you have about this batik process, don’t hesitate to ask. Please ask on the BLOG comment box, if you would. If you email me through the website, I sometimes don’t get them right away.
See you next week!