Mixed-Media Backgrounds: Secrets Using Resist Techniques

When I was growing up, spies were everywhere. From the British James Bond and “The Avengers,” to the intellectual “Mission: Impossible,” to the silly “Get Smart,” it was clear that spies were the coolest thing around, and some of them were women!

I wrote and drew with the crayon over the watercolor
paper, painted over it, let dry, then added wax marks
and more paint to create backgrounds.

My friends and I all played “secret agent,” and that meant we needed gadgets and other spy stuff. This being the ’60s, we had to make a lot of our tools ourselves. This is when I learned about secret message writing. (And here I have to credit my mom, who was very inventive and would have made an excellent Q.)

One of the many ways my friends and I sent secret messages to each other was with resist techniques. Usually, we’d use a white candle to write a word or two on a piece of paper. The paper would look blank. Ah, but when you lightly painted over the paper, the message would emerge as the wax resisted the paint.

I recalled this memory when I was watching Diana Trout demonstrate painting and other mixed-media art techniques in her video tutorial Playful Paper Backgrounds.

Diana reveals several resist methods, including a couple using wax. For this method, you can use a crayon with pigment, a white or clear crayon (I got mine from an Easter egg coloring kit), or a candle.

Crayon Resist


  • Crayon
  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paint
  • Paintbrush


Hash marks (top) and a word written in clear wax,
painted over in green watercolor, then the
word spritzed with alcohol ink.

1. Draw a design with crayon on watercolor paper.

2. Paint over the surface of the watercolor paper with a wash of paint to reveal the drawing.

In my examples, I first used a paintbrush and watercolors to reveal a word and hash marks I made with the crayon. Then I wrote another word and spritzed alcohol ink on it. Finally, I went back over the first word, whose wax was tinged slightly green from the paint, and spritzed it with ink. This gave a subtle, slightly two-tone effect.

Playful Paper Backgrounds, now available on Craft Daily
, is full of easy techniques like this. Many of you probably learned some of these as a child but either forgot them or didn’t realize how sophisticated they could turn out in grown-up art. You just need to use the right materials and combinations of techniques.

I encourage you to reach back to your childhood for more art secrets to play with.

P.S. What’s your favorite childhood art technique? Leave your comment below.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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