View Full Version : WIP/Tutorial of watercolor batik on rice paper

08-22-2013, 10:20 PM
I was recently shown the technique of watercolor batik by a fellow artist in my local guild. I took to the technique and was instantly obsessed with it, because watercolor is right up my alley anyways.

I have never done a WIP but want to share with wetcanvas my stages in case someone else is interested in trying the technique. My first attempt was on a coffee filter, of all things and it worked out great! I then bought a roll of rice paper from Hobby Lobby and the WIP I show is done on that.

First, draw out your design on something other than your rice paper, go over the lines with ink if necessary so they will show through for you to trace onto the rice paper. Put the drawing underneath the rice paper and trace your design onto the rice paper using a WATERPROOF ink. The micron pens are a good ink for this. Sign your painting with the same ink, because you may not be able to paint it in later. So just sign it now in ink. This photo is my drawing on regular paper, before I traced it onto the rice paper:


Now put your paper on top of waxed paper (that's taped to your work surface, preferably) and melt some wax (parraffin, no oils, no fragrance or color), I use a scentsy type pot for the melting of the wax, I also shave the wax off of the parraffin bar into shavings so they'll melt faster. Set aside an old brush that you never want to use again for dipping in the wax.

Determine any parts on the paper that you want to remain bright white. Drop or paint wax (with your OLD brush) onto those places on the rice paper. These areas will be all the way white later. Set the wax brush down and then paint the lightest areas of your design. Dry with a blow dryer if necessary. This is my painting at this early stage:

Once that/those colors are dry, wax over those areas again with the old brush and melted wax. Go with your next colors and paint on. Continue in this way painting and drying the paint and waxing over.



Once you have the background painted on, wax over the entire picture. Once it's all waxed, crumple it into a ball to crack the wax (be careful, be gentle and make sure your painting is dry before doing this or you will rip the rice paper and if you do, you can possibly repair it later). Straighten/flatten it back out and mix up a dark color of complementary paint and drop into the cracks, or just paint over the entire surface. This dark paint will settle into the cracks and create a pretty crackle effect or splotchy unexpected effect...this is the fun part because you may not know just what you'll end up with.

After you do this, place the whole piece between 4-5 layers of regular newspaper, cover the piece with another 4-5 layers of newspaper and iron over it with a regular household iron set at high/cotton setting. You will notice wetness coming through, that is the wax re-melting and soaking into the newspapers. Keep changing the newspapers out until you have no more melted/wetness of wax showing through where you are ironing. This means you have ironed most of the wax away. Remove (carefully) the piece from the newspapers and you have your finished piece. You may try, at this point to add some more ink or paints back in in places you want it but there's no guarantee it will take, because the paper may be too impregnated with wax. It's just a trial to see thing at that point.

Here is my finished piece "Honolulu Bougainvillea", I got my reference from a photo I took while on my honeymoon in May/June 2013:
Mount onto white surface such as matboard, or some other acid free surface. I used photo mounting squares (like you use for scrapbooking) underneath so that it is gently stuck to the board but I can also remove it if I want to. I have found that these pieces look best when mounted onto a white surface. The colors really pop then.

I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial and it has made sense. If you have questions, I will try to answer them best I can. I have only done about 3 good pieces with this technique and this one was my 3rd try at it. It was a rather "busy" piece and I wasn't sure if it would turn out good.

08-22-2013, 10:48 PM
This is really beautiful! Thanks so much for posting your steps!

08-22-2013, 11:19 PM
Thanks so much, Char!

M.L. Schaefer
08-23-2013, 02:18 AM
Sharla, how beautiful! I just bought some rice paper, and also have some gifted hand-made rice paper...and I've been considering how to begin so as I've contemplated, it is still in the drawer, unused...I'm now thinking East Meets West is the way! Thank you for these step-by-step instructions, I'm sure that I'm not the only one that will put them to good use!

:heart: M.

08-23-2013, 02:56 AM
A fantastic WIP with beautiful results. One for the Handbook I am sure.


08-23-2013, 09:25 AM
M., I hope you will use that rice paper, this is a really fun technique, especially for watercolorists!

Yorky, thank you so much! To my surprise, there aren't too many tutorials for batiking out on the interwebs. There are a few but I was surprised when I researched that there weren't a great many.

Anyone else reading this, use a regular coffee filter at home and try this technique first. Don't go out and buy a roll or pad of rice paper just to try it. Use the filter, it makes for a neat little round piece. People you show it to will be fascinated that you did that on a filter!

08-23-2013, 10:32 AM
Sharla, what a treat!! Have always wondered how it is done, thanks!!

Your painting is outstanding work!!


08-23-2013, 11:23 AM
This is a new watercolor technique for me. Your finished piece is.. well, delicious! Kind of like watercolor meets encaustic. Thanks for showing this. Lots of scope for creativity with this concept.

08-23-2013, 11:36 AM
Katherine and Alice, I am excited by your comments, thank you so much!

Alice I had great fun visiting your blog, nice blog and fantastic painting!

08-23-2013, 02:46 PM
Thank you, I hope you visit there often!