Resist Techniques & Circles


Layering and textures on the watercolour paper base-layer will be explored in today's mini-project. Circular print marks and resist techniques are created using watercolour, masking fluid and matte medium.


There are two resist techniques I would like to show you in this project. The processes are to be used on the watercolour paper for the bigger collage projects. The technique is to be tried first in your watercolour paper sketchbook. The third process shown is printing a floral design with a loo roll tube on deli paper

Resist with matte medium

There's a fundamental difference between watercolour and acrylic paint. Watercolour is water soluble: once painted on a paper and dry, it remains water soluble and can be partly lifted off by making it wet and rubbing over the surface. Acrylic paint (High Flow) is permanent once it dries


In the video demonstration you can find two processes done at the same time.

Materials needed

Watercolour sketchbook, watercolour paint, two loo roll tube, masking fluid, matte medium and High Flow colours Pthalo blue and green, Azo gold, black and white.

The first steps are to cover a sheet in watercolour marks, using a loo roll for stamping. Watercolour paint is used - I recommend using a student-grade watercolour, Windsor and Newton's Cottman watercolours are fine. This paint lifts off the paper easily once dry. A professional paint such as QoR has a stronger pigment and better binders to bond the colour to the substrate, so it is not ideal for the technique shown in this project.

The paint is diluted with water and placed in a lid or flat container so the tube end can be covered in paint. I use a mixture of blues to create a deep blue.

Stamp shapes over the paper, with one half covered in more concentrated marks. Once covered, leave to dry. On the adjacent sheet of the sketchbook you can do a similar stamping with another loo roll but dipped in masking fluid. Cover the sheet with circles, not quite as concentrated as the sheet with watercolour marks, but enough to cover the page with some variety. Whilst this sheet dries you can start on the first one again.

Matte medium as resist

Paint small circles and dots with matte medium onto the dried watercolour sheet. Paint the marks in a thin layer and undiluted. Some of the watercolour paint might start to dissolve into the medium: this is fine, but take care to make the marks with limited strokes. Create a secondary layer of circular patterns on top of the watercolour sheet. The matte medium acts as a barrier once dry, almost like a varnish in a way, so the watercolour areas covered with the paint medium will remain with detail as painted. Leave to dry.

You can again work on the sheet of masking fluid marks. Cover the entire page with a thin layer of the same watercolour paint used for stamping using a fan brush. Once covered, used the bottom half of the page to apply a mixture of High Flow to create a deep teal blue colour. I used a few drops of Pthalo blue and green, Azo gold and a teeny drop of black. The High Flow can be mixed with the still wet watercolour on the bottom half. Allow to dry.

Whilst this side dries you can work on the other page again (or use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process). Make sure the matte medium marks are dried on the paper with watercolour textures. Cover the page with a wet fan brush. Once the area is covered you can remove the paint with a sheet of kitchen towel or a clean cloth. You will notice that the watercolour marks dissolve and become a uniform light blue colour in contrast with the marks that had been covered in matte medium. Do not rub too much: work quickly and with a gentle but firm action. This technique is very useful for making interesting textured marks in a controlled way, or covering a large area with selected textured marks, resembling paper collage in a way without the many paper sections to be cutout and applied. It is ideal to create as the base for a layered collage.

Leave to dry and go back to the masking fluid sheet.

Remove the masking fluid once the watercolour and acrylic layer has dried. You'll see a high contrasting area with sharp white detail in the masking fluid stamped areas. Repeat the same process with wetting the watercolour area if you wish to create a softer appearance. Leave to dry.

These resist techniques can be explored in ways to include different colours and textures on the watercolour sheets.

Stamped floral shapes

Since you have the loo roll and acrylic paint mixture I'm including a third little project for the deli sheets.

Mix a few drops of white with the mixture of Pthalo blue, green and Azo gold to create a deep teal colour. Black can be added sparingly to make the colour deeper and less bright. No matte medium is added.

Use the loo tube to create lozenge shaped petals, stamp them in a circular pattern roughly resembling anemone flowers. The paint marks will be opaque. Print around eight floral shapes. You can use the rest of the paint to cover deli sheets, make print off sheets to create this colour as texture.


The techniques in this mini-project are ideal to be used for creating a dramatic backdrop for a collage. Achieving textures and controlled shapes by means of painting with matte medium is a good alternative to collaging many sections of deli paper. Masking fluid can be used in all sorts of ways, and is also a good way to create an interesting all-over pattern for a backdrop of a layered collage.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

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