Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Batik!

I've acquired a new tool in my studio.  It actually serves a dual purpose.  So after I finish using it to apply paraffin to my painting, I can pamper my hands with it as well!

My latest project is watercolor batik.  Something I've been wanting to try for awhile after seeing examples of it in my Watercolor Artist magazine.  Batik is not new to me.  I was first exposed to the craft in my high school Senior Studio class.  Traditionally, batik is a way to decorate cloth and is a centuries old art form.  The process involves applying hot wax onto the cloth and dipping the cloth in dye.  After allowing the cloth to dry, another layer of wax is applied over areas where the color is to be preserved.  Again, the cloth is dipped into yet another dye, allowed to dry, and wax is applied over the areas where color is to be preserved.  After a final dip in dye, the wax is removed by ironing the piece between sheets of newspaper. 

Watercolor batik is basically the same process, however instead of dipping into dye, color is applied using watercolors and a paintbrush onto rice paper.

The image above shows my sketch of tulips on rice paper.  I used a Pigma Micron pen for added interest in the painting.  The reference photo is an image I captured at the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio.

This final image is my first wash of color after applying the first application of wax which will preserve the whites.  You can't really see where the wax has been applied in this photo.  The tulips that are still white will be painted a light pink today.  Later, I will go in with another application of wax to preserve the areas of color I choose remain.

It's quite a tedious process, but I'm confident my end result will be very rewarding.  In addition, I can give myself a nice paraffin hand treatment!

If you would like to follow along with my batik process, come join me on Facebook.  I will be frequently posting my updates for this piece on my Facebook page at Gretchen Bjornson ART.


  1. Very interesting process. A challenge but your drawing is great. Can't wait to see it all finished!

  2. Thanks Cathy! A challenge indeed. Not, by any means, a typical watercolor painting. But a very good exercise in looking at values. Here's hoping the end results are pleasing to the eye!

  3. Thanks for sharing some of your techniques. It's always great to see how other artists tackle certain subjects. Laura



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