Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tempera Paint Resist Drawings

My daughter is in the throes of final project week. Art classes do not have final tests. Instead of studying all night, art students make art all night and pray the paint is dry by their deadlines.

She had to make a tempera resist for her illustration class, so she let me play along too. Besides, I bought the tempera paint.

I chose a kitchsy owl design from A Treasury of Design for Artists and Craftsmen. My daughter was mortified because owls are now officially "hipster." I sketched my hipster owl onto water color paper.

My daughter's project was to draw an animal and render it in multiple formats. She chose a rhino. Apparently, rhinos are epic. She scribbled pencil on the back of her original drawing to transfer the rhino to the watercolor paper.

She mixed the washable tempera poster paint with water to thin it to the consistency of heavy cream. She then painted the areas she wanted to remain white. She said that it's better not to be too precise with the brush. The imperfections give the lines interest. (That's art school talk.)

Back to my owl. I thickened the lines so I could keep track of the areas I wanted to protect from the overwash.

When the tempera is dry, paint over the drawing with NON–water–soluble ink, which we didn't use.

Use ink that is not water soluble.

Let the ink dry.

When the ink is dry, rinse the drawing under running water. The washable tempera will wash away, theoretically leaving the dark ink. Our ink washed away too. Oops.

Thinned acrylic craft paint makes a good substitute for the permanent ink, thank goodness.

My daughter salvaged her drawing by repainting the tempera and then washing over the orange–tinted paper with its complementary color.

I washed over my owl with thinned raw umber acrylic paint. (Don't overwork the paint wash. Also, don't be too generous with the paint unless you want the tempera to start washing away, which could be interesting too.)

The white areas show where I painted the thinned tempera paint.

I love my hipster owl! He looks like a wood cut.

This bunny design is also from the best design book ever. Blueprint bunny!

I highly recommend hanging out with art students.



  1. Those are really cute. THat is a method that I have never tried and I think I'll give it a go! THanks for sharing it!

    1. Thanks, Danni. It is a really fun technique. I'm wondering if it'll work on fabric too.


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