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So Cool! Tempera Resist Masking with Watercolor

I’m so excited to be sharing a really fun process, Tempera Resist Masking with you!  Have you ever tried a tempera resist painting?  I have written a few blog posts about this process before (You can read more about it Here, here and here!) 

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Today, I have a slightly different version to share with you.  This Tempera Resist Masking technique uses the Tempera as a mask.

For this process, you start with watercolor paper (This is in contrast to the original tempera resist process I shared before where you can use construction paper).   

To begin, I printed out a photograph as a reference.  Mine was a photograph of my dog, Boomer.  I placed my photograph on top of the watercolor paper and paperclipped them together.  Then, I used a dull pencil to press over the main lines and edges of the dog and the couch.  I pressed hard so the pencil lines would be indented into the watercolor paper beneath it.  (I wish I took some photos of this process, but I’ll try to do that in the near future so you can see it!) 

Then, I removed the photograph and applied some VERY light vine charcoal over the watercolor paper so the indented lines show up better.  (Again, I’ll get some photos of this process soon! It’s a great way to help students feel successful with drawing!)

Using a small paint brush and white tempera paint, I applied white paint to all of the watercolor paper EXCEPT for the indented lines.   You want to make the tempera paint as THICK as possible for this.  Sometimes, I applied two layers, especially if I knew an area was going to be very light or white in the final artwork.   Anything you leave untouched with paint will be black in the end.  Here is what mine looked like at this point:

tempera resist masking process 2 - covered with India Ink

Next, you’ll want to let that completely dry.  I’m impatient so I used a blow dryer!  Then, apply a thin layer of India ink over the whole painting.  Mine looked like this:

tempera resist masking process 2 - covered with India Ink

Now we have to wait for that to dry, too.  I used the blow dryer again.   Then, take the artwork to the sink.  You can fill up the sink or a tray with cool water.  Drop the artwork gently into the water and begin to lightly brush your fingers around on the surface of the watercolor paper.  The paint and the ink begin to wash away.   Be gentle not to rip the paper.  You can use your judgment here and decide when it’s done.  Sometimes, I have to dump out the dirty water and replace it with clean water and continue rubbing the paper.  

Gently lift the paper out of the water and allow to dry.  For this step, I left mine overnight.  Here is what it looked like in the morning:

tempera resist masking process 3 washed

You could totally leave it alone and call it done at this point, if you’d like.  Or you can add some watercolor paint!  I chose to add some watercolor paint to mine.   Here is the finished result of my Tempera Resist Masking artwork of the BEST BOY, Boomer!

tempera resist masking process 4 finished

What do you think?  Have you tried anything like this before?  There are so many cool things you can do with this tempera resist masking process!  I hope you try it out!  If you do, let me know about it!  


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Hi, I’m Erin!

I’ve been a high school art teacher at a rural school in WV for the past 14 years. I teach Art 1, AP Art + Design, Art 2 and 3. 
I’m a little obsessed with my sweet husband. Together we have FOUR kids and a rescue dog named Boomer! 
I love a bad pun and terrible dad jokes. I spend time looking at MBTI memes, cooking, listening to serial killer podcasts and Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat. I also teach yoga and indoor cycling. Click the button below to learn more about me. 

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