The Watercolor Batik Process

About the Watercolor Batik Medium

I first read about the watercolor batik method in the August 2011 edition of Watercolor Artist magazine. I have since adapted it to my images of birds, florals and historical buildings with emphasis on the conservation status of endangered and threatened wildlife and architecture.

The watercolor batik technique involves applying paraffin wax as a resist on rice paper. However, “Rice paper” is really a misnomer. The Japanese papers I use are usually made from mulberry and often infused wih other fibers such as hemp. My favorite paper is Ginswashi from the Awagami factory.

After drawing a simple sketch in permanent ink, I first apply wax to any area that needs to retain the white of the paper. I can then apply the first layer of my lightest value watercolor wash. After drying completely, any area that needs to stay at that value is protected with wax. I proceed through the values of my subject, each time protecting the ones I want to retain.

The final step is to completely crumple the piece into a ball. This adds even more texture to the paper which helps achieve a vintage effect. A heated iron and newspaper removes the wax from the rice paper. The artwork can be framed traditionally, or as I prefer, adhered to canvas or cradled panel for a glass-free presentation.

This video from my Art in the Library solo exhibit presentation shows my process.