This week, I did a wax resist activity with a second-grade class that has done many, many art lessons with me. They know my basic art behavior rules -- look carefully.... think about your work.... choose colors thoughtfully... THEN do the art. I always try to give enough direction without being too detailed, because I want kids to be creative AND end up with something they are proud of, so for this adventure in wax resist I gave them some choices of "what to draw" -- a sun design, landscape, cityscape, or flowers. I showed them a few samples of my own tries, which I took away after they looked at them. The "rules" were to use a light color crayon and only two colors of paint.
I've done wax resist lessons with black crayon, white crayon, colors, whatever. This time, it was light crayons only, with the idea that the paint would be dark. I didn't think to tell them that if they used a yellow crayon, they should not use yellow paint, so some are not as contrasting as they could be. The biggest success of this particular activity was that every student was totally engaged in both their drawings and their painting process. Overall, they had fun
Kids usually like working with wax resist. They seem to think it's like magic that the paint is resisted by the crayon, and they do become very engaged in the process. But I have found that the technique can be tricky. For one thing, students don't always press hard enough with the crayons, so the crayon doesn't come through as it should. They also seem to have a hard time getting enough paint onto the brushes, resulting in a washed-out composition. And, they have a tendency to want to use every color in the watercolor pan, resulting in a kind of mess, especially if they ignore me when I suggest that they not paint on top of paint. When I had my own art classroom, I took all the black and brown paint out of the pans, for just this reason
We did end up with some pretty good results AND I got a few more ideas about how to present the lessons. For one thing, I need to remember to remind them that if the crayon is light, they need to use darker colors of paint, and plenty of it, so that the crayon will come through. And vice-versa.