How To Use Rubber Cement To Resist Watercolors

This is an instructional on how to use rubber cement to resist watercolor paints on a painting, with step-by-step photos of a work in progress. The point of this article is to display one of the many techniques used in watercolor painting and show the versatility of this commonly used medium.

Watercolor paints are a very versatile and fun medium to work with. They are great for a multitude of art projects and great fun for young artists to develop their skills. One less commonly discussed technique used in watercolor painting is resisting, using such materials as masking fluid or wax. Rubber cement works in much the same way as masking fluid does, but it comes with it's own brush, which can be useful, and is a bit more cost effective if you're a little strapped for cash when the creative streak hits. Does the term "Starving Artist" mean anything to anyone?

Watercolor resisting is particularly useful for preserving white areas of a painting when you use a wash. I learned this particular technique years ago from my great-grandfather when I was growing up. One of the not-so-great things about rubber cement is that it's smelly and somewhat toxic. I used it with my windows open and a fan on. If you decide to use it, I'd make sure the project is well-ventilated and of short duration. That being said, it is still a fun technique to use and kids find it to be fascinating and entertaining.

I will paint an illustration for the purposes of this article, to help you see exactly what I am talking about.

Firstly what you'll need to do is to decide on what you want to paint. For this, I am going to use a sketch of a flower that I'd like to add color to and bring to life.

pencil drawing

Next, get out your rubber cement and lay a thin layer over what you do not want washed with the background and allow it to dry.

applying rubber cement

finished rubber cement

dried rubber cement

Once the rubber cement has dried, pick your background color or colors and apply your wash, again allow it to dry.

painting wash

finished wash

Then once your wash has dried completely, take your finger or an eraser and rub away the rubber cement. It should come off fairly easily.

rubbing away rubber cement

*Note: Make sure your wash is dry before rubbing away the rubber cement, or you will pull up paper as well.

rubbing away rubber cement

Now that your drawing has been omitted from the wash, finish it up with some color and maybe an ink pen or fine point marker to sharpen up some edges if you would like. It all depends on your style of painting.

before ink

And Viola! You have your finished masterpiece!

finished

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Daniel Burgess
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Posted on Jun 30, 2012