Testing Resists

Resists are pencils, pens or liquids like rubber cement that prevent color from soaking into paper. I love using resists on my art journaling pages because it gives a type of texture to the page.

Tonight I tried three different resists, to completely different results and a big surprise to me. It seems the traditional resists I’ve used for a long time don’t always work the same way.

The first one I tried is white Uniball Signo gel pen from Jet Pens. I’ve used it to write on top of color and like the effect. It puts down a nice smooth, even line. I thought writing on Strathmore Ready-cut watercolor paper first, then using color, it would give me a nice resist. Not at all.  The gel ink soaks into the watercolor paper and the color goes on over it. I was surprised.

You can see the white faintly on the right side of the page.

I then tried Sharpie Poster Paint pens, which I did not expect to work well, but did, although it’s faint.  I used watercolor pencils and a wet brush. I painted the wet brush across the pencil and used it as paint. You can see the dots as well as the flower on the middle of the page, right side.

Colored grease pencils with wrap-sharpening showing. Image from Patronofthearts.com

Next I tried grease pencil, also called tile marker or china marker, is a white waxy pencil that is supported by a wrap of paper that you peel off to expose more pencil. I thought this would work; it’s my go-to resist pencil.

You can see a faint diagonal line at the upper right corner and a few dots.

It didn’t work as well as I thought. I’ll admit, it worked a lot better with an ink wash, but I was using watercolor pencils, so it’s quite pale, but visible.

What worked best? Utrecht liquid frisket. I applied it with a brush. Use a cheap brush and be prepared to throw it out. The bottle says you can rinse the brush with soap and water, but after I do that, I throw it out. It’s just not the same anymore.

Frisket works best, but I can't get even, straight lines.

The dots are clear because the frisket goes down wet, dries, and you rub it off like rubber cement. There are no straight lines, but I like the clear effect, even if the watercolor is pale.

So, there are three variables: paper, resist, and the watercolor. I need to try ink washes to see if I get better results than watercolor pencils.

–Quinn McDonald likes the word “resist” because that’s what we do when we face ourselves in our art.

17 thoughts on “Testing Resists

    • ohhhhh, Natasha, this also uses a different kind of frisket than I was using, which may make a big difference. I’d like to do more frisket work, so now I’m going to have to figure out if I can use it for another purpose. Thanks so much for pointing me to it!

  1. A color shaper won’t work with inks, but will with the Frisket. The way to keep Frisket from ruining a brush is to dip the brush in liquid soap and let it dry that way. Then use the Frisket and let it dry and it will peel off the soap (a resist for a resist).
    An alternative resist is Ranger’s Resist ink. You stamp with it and dry it and then watercolor over it; it will resist the waterbased paint. Doesn’t work with acrylics or oils. I’ve also used rubber cement as a resist in a pinch.
    Nancy Curry’s book in the A.R.T. workshop list is full of resists! Go to the Smugmug photos to see what the resists look like in the workshop results.

  2. 🙂 I love reading about experiments. To get straight lines with the frisket you could try a colour shaped, it has a rubber end, you have a bit more control, and if you leave the frisket to dry on the colourshaper it will peel right off…no more ruined brushes!

  3. Have you tried clear embossing ink and powder heated? You can get clear embossing ink as a pen or use the liquid re-inker to ‘draw,’ and then sprinkle it with embossing powder and heat.

  4. While not really a resist, I like the effect of table salt sprinkled on a watercolor while still wet. Be patient, let it dry and then brush off… it reacts with the paint and removes some pigment where it rests. It’s sort of magical. Artistical alchemy…

      • Have tried the kosher and love it–will try the superfine and various mineral salts, thank you! I’m wondering now about bath salts; specifically ones that have been dyed, and how they might transfer a bit of their color…? Could make for some interesting combinations.

        • Oh, interesting. Magnesium sulfate, or epsom salts have a high absorption capability. I wonder what would happen–particularly with the color. Oh, please report back when you find out!

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