Monday, July 20, 2009


Yesterday, the second day of the batik workshop, and we had to bring in our own photos and drawings to work from so I used the American Lotus photo taken at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.
I did a black and white 5 x 7 copy and then traced that to get just the lines. Then we had to make a guide for ourselves for the batik painting.
You use colored pencils/crayons and paint each value separately. So...white can be white but the next lightest value should be a color - yellow usually works well and shows up well. So you have white, yellow, and so on...until you get to your darkest values. Usually about 5 different values planned out will give you a good batik. Sometimes it's hard to see those middle values so go slow and take a break when you start rushing (this is my goal for myself because impatience is my middle name).

The guide will look NOTHING like the painting will look. It is just colored areas to show you the next values so you know where to put the wax on the paper next. In fact, it looks pretty odd and ugly. But it's just a guide. I made a mistake with mine and used an orange, a red and a fuscia color = too close in color to see clearly so I had to go over the red with green and use that instead for my 4th value. Then I could see it more clearly.
This part of the process really makes you stop and look and see the values in your photo. You hope you do it right and it comes out that way in the final batik, but I did rush a bit and skip a step in places (putting wax where it should have been left alone or leaving wax off places I should have covered at that stage). But that's okay - little mistakes and omissions won't kill the painting for you.

So you wax the whites, then paint. Deb has you paint the flower as you would normally paint it so you blend some colors with more water to get softer merges of color. Then that dries and you wax the yellows. Then more painting, a bit darker and moving around the flower (I painted the main subject in first before going on to the background because my background was going to be lots of greens and blues in pretty dark values). So I was actually painting the subject in each time I painted.

Next wax after this dried was the orange - more paint - dry - next wax was the green value - more paint...and here's where I began going into the background more and blending the colors. The Unryu paper was medium weight and held up nicely but you still don't want to brush it a lot or the fibers will begin to come up.

You get the idea.

And here is my finished batik of the American Lotus. (I love splattering so about the 5th layer, I put the wax on and splattered wax all over the paper, too - it created those nice bubbles you see and I think it works for showing the pads and water).

The only thing I don't like is the pale pad right under the lily that should have been one value darker to show it's a lily pad...and the blue-green shape is a bit too much, too, although that color does show up in the lily. Deb says taking all the wax off the batik at the end is either like Christmas - oooooh, aaahhhh - or like a bad surprise birthday party - eeeeek!!!

When the whole piece of paper has wax on it, you let it dry, then you crack some of the wax off in places (not too much and not big chunks). This allows you to go back with a dark mix of paint and smoosh that paint into the painting in the open cracks = that creates the batik look of it. Then you blot off excess paint, dry it completely, and then you iron it in between sheets of newsprint and newspaper. A hot iron melts the wax off the paper and you have to keep getting clean newsprint and newspaper and ironing until no more wax comes off.

Then you glue the piece of Unryu to regular watercolor paper (a bit larger than the Unryu), and you are ready to mat and frame it :) You should use acid free glue if you want it to last and be archival. I'm using PVA Glue on mine but haven't glued them yet.

Deb is a good teacher - and I recommend her workshops (she has 2 others scheduled and might do it again in the fall if there is enough interest). Her place is wonderful - as you work you look out at the absolute stillness of the lake/pond and it just makes you feel good. I imagine in the fall it would be fabulous out there and Mike (her husband) might even take you around on the "gator" vehicle to show you the whole place and what he's accomplished out there. Don't forget to say "Howdy" to the Red Devins and little Sunny (their newest addition, a male calf).


Angela said...

Beautiful! I see what you mean about that lighter lily pad - but it's still gorgeous!

I've done a batik style using mf, but never actual wax - was there a special kind of wax that you have to use, or was it the same type you use on fabric?

I love the crackliness and where you've splattered the wax. I'll have to try this!

debwardart said...

Hey Rhonda, I'll be sure and let Mike know what nice things you said about him!!! (And your kind words for me!)
So glad you enjoyed the workshop - and took photos! (DUH - you would think I'd have thought to do that - maybe next weekend I'll remember!)

Cindi said...

thanks for the quick lesson.. i have never tryed this .. wish i lived closer, i'd join you gals...sounds like you had fun and a wonderful keepsake to remember the good time by...what more can you ask for!!??

Barb Sailor said...

Very interesting, Rhonda. I have been accumulating the supplies to try this medium and will eventually get up my nerve:) I think your lotus is beautiful.taiti

Ann Buckner said...

The batik is lovely, Rhonda!

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

What a stunningly good post with mountains of explanation so explicit I almost felt I was going through the workshop process with you. Well done.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks so much, Angela - the wax is just the stuff you use in big blocks for canning - chop it into little pieces and melt it in a small electric pan (like kids use in dorms) or Deb had a special wax-melting utensil that had 8 or so little round containers on top of a large heavy metal flat rod that heated up - specifically for melting wax.
Deb, you and Mike are super! Enjoyed the whole weekend.
I'm glad you enjoyed the post and info and photos, Cindi, Barb, and Ann. Joan - that's my goal = give you a taste to make you want to try it :) I don't have the wax pot here but I could buy one with some wax and do this - it's not hard - the hardest part is getting the values just right and having an old iron and ironing board to melt the wax off at the end (don't want to use your good stuff).

cathyswatercolors said...

Beautiful indeed. What a process. Workshop? The colors are great,yellows,blues and greens

Deb Léger said...

Beautiful Rhonda! I sure wish Deb's workshops were closer. Sandy's too.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Cathy and Deb :) Deb, you are going to have to come here to find these artist/teachers - or search out some there know they are around, it just takes time to find them :)

Nick said...

whooooooooooa baby, that is gorgeous!!!

RH Carpenter said...

Hey, Nick, thanks!!