Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Theme- Can't Resist This!

Hi everyone, Judi, here!

What can you never resist? What are you more successful at resisting? What favorite things do you just refuse to resist? Chocolate? Love? Dessert before dinner? We want to see them all! This month we want you to sketch, paint, collage, or express in abstract the things you resist and fail at resisting. Come on, we all have them!

One of the things I can't resist is using "resists" in my sketchbooks. In artistic parlance, a "resist" is a medium that is used to mask off areas in our work that we want to preserve. If you've ever seen batik fabric, you're looking at surface design that relies heavily on resists- in this case, wax.

But many products on the market will also work nicely to create both removable and permanent resists and resist-like effects on paper, so let's talk about a few of them.

The first and possibly easiest way to get a resist-like effect on paper is with acrylic paint. When acrylic paint has fully dried, it forms a flexible, plastic-y film on top of the fibers of the paper (or fabric, for that matter!) This allows you to work back into a piece with washes of color that will stain everything not touched by the acrylic paints.

Here, to emphasize a black, spiral monoprint on white paper, I used white paint to impress a subtle sunburst image on top of the page.

After the white paint had dried fully, I worked back into the paper by "buffing" blues and magenta onto the page with a soft sponge.  Notice how the white paint "resisted" the later layers of paint and retained its own character.

One of my favorite products to use as a resist is rubber cement. This inexpensive office supply can be purchased in most grocery and hobby stores.

To create an effective resist with rubber cement, simply "paint" the cement onto dry paper, allow the cement to dry fully, and brush, smear or stamp paint on top. Once the paint has dried, carefully rub the cement off the paper to reveal the layers below.

Above, a simple spiral design was brushed onto an empty, dry page (I used the brush that comes in the can of rubber cement.) When the cement had dried, I painted the page with a wash of green acrylic that I had thinned to a milk-like consistency with water. After the paint dried, I rubbed off the cement and stamped a new image on top of it with more rubber cement. When that dried, the page got another wash of color, this time in orange, and when the whole thing was fully dry, I rubbed off the cement for the last time.

You can leave the rubber cement on through multiple layers or color washes, though...

On this page, I painted a commercial foam stamp with rubber cement and impressed it onto the paper. Then I added a wash of color, allowed that to dry, added another layer of rubber cement, allowed that to dry... another color wash, another layer of rubber cement, and so forth. Finally, when I felt like I had filled the entire page with texture, I let it dry and rubbed all the layers of rubber cement away to reveal the final imagery.

Tips for working with rubber cement:

~ If you don't like the fumes, wear a mask. This stuff is sold to children, so I have to hope it's not toxic to breathe!
~ Be sure to keep track of all the little balls of dried rubber cement you'll be rubbing off your paper! If they get stuck to your clothes or the bottom of your shoes, you could track it into your house and deposit it on carpets and furniture. It's difficult to remove!
~ If you find you've covered a large area with a lot of rubber cement and need to remove it, use an old studio rag (rather than your fingers) to rub the cement away- you'll save your fingertips a lot of rawness this way!
~ You can modify any imagery you paint with the cement simply by letting it dry and then rubbing away any areas you don't want.

Another resist I love to use is one that has been specifically formulated for art. Liquid frisket is a milky looking liquid that you can purchase in handy squeeze bottles with fine, metal tips which allow you to get a very detailed application. Like rubber cement, once the frisket and paper/paint have dried, you just gently rub it away.

Here, I pushed liquid frisket through a Thermox fax screen** onto a dry, clean page. When the frisket had dried, just as with the rubber cement, I hit the page with a wash of color and allowed that to dry. Then I used the squeeze bottle and metal tip to do a little Stacked Journaling, allowed that to dry, and hit the page with another wash of color. Then I rubbed off the frisket.

** Warning: this isn't recommended. I did it as an experiment on a screen I wasn't particularly attached to. I immediately raced to the sink to wash the frisket out of the screen- this stuff dries fast- and saw no ill effects in the screen during later usage, but I cannot guarantee you will have such luck with your own screens! HOWEVER- you can use plastic stencils and when the frisket has dried on them, you can rub it off cleanly with no ill effects to the stencil.

So... what can't you resist?

May's theme is: Can't Resist This!

How to be eligible for prize drawings:

In order to be eligible for one of the May prize packages you must post at least one photo of a sketchbook page related to the theme for May to the Sketchbook Challenge Flickr group and you MUST tag one of your photos with the code "may725".
It is not necessary to tag more than one and it will not increase your chances of winning.

See the available prize packages here!

Information on how to upload photos to flickr can be found

Winners will be chosen by random draw on 5/31/11 and announced on the Sketchbook Challenge blog on 5/31/11. 


  1. When we were kids, our art teacher taught us crayon resist. I think I will do that with my students this month. It was one of my favorite techniques. I never thought about rubber cement. I think we will stick with crayons though. An entire class using rubber cement might be too much.

    What can't I resist?? Oddly enough, last night I drew a picture in one of my sketchbooks of my favorite drink (cherry lime slush.) The drive-in I go to has it half price everyday from 2 to 4. Love it!

    I look forward to this months topic.

  2. McMGrad, crayons make a wonderful resist and they're perfect for children. I agree, though, a room full of little ones with cans of rubber cement could be challenging. lol

  3. Wow this is going to stretch the old grey matter!! What I can never resist is a snooze if the chance arises. I never seem to get enough sleep. Maybe this is a starting idea for the month:-)

  4. Really interesting -- I haven't tried the acrylic technique and I love acrylics so just might try it...

  5. Hi,

    I'm kind of new to your blog site but I love challenges. I am currently a doll artist but I used to be an avid sketch artist and still do drawings of my designs. I would love to join this challenge. Can you tell me a little more about it. Do I just submit an art piece of something I can't resist with the code # on it?


  6. Hi Gloria, you'll find all the details about how the challenge works here:

    In order to be eligible for prize giveaways, you must post a photo of your sketchbook page inspired by the theme to the flickr group. You'll find information on how to post to flicker here:

    All the details about the prizes and the tag you'll need to use are here:

    Have fun! let me know if you have any other questions.

  7. Lovely examples!I can't resist trying this tech!!!

  8. Resist techniques that was the first thing I thought of when I saw the theme. oh goody.

  9. I'm glad you put this challenge up. I do a lot of sketching but recently have got bogged down with the same medium, so it was a change to do something different. My work is on my blog

  10. I can't resist making art. I used many different resists in my layered piece which you can read about on my blog:

  11. first time having a go at sketchbook challenge -but like the idea of cant resist. For me it has to be dogs whose eyes I cant resist at any time.


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