Watercolor Resist

Watercolor Resist with Acrylic Gel

Acrylics can be used as resists in mixed media works with watercolor.  Gels and mediums come in a range of viscosity that can be brushed or knifed onto the surface.

QoR Ultramarine Blue
QoR Benzimidazolone Yellow
QoR Quinacridone Magenta
QoR Payne’s Gray
QoR Transparent Pyrrole Orange
Golden Heavy Gel Gloss (or gloss medium or gel of your choice)

Offset Palette Knife or Brush
Mounted or Heavy Weight Watercolor paper
Mixing palette
Watercolor brush
Acrylic Brush*
Paper towels


STEP 1 Select a quality watercolor paper.

STEP 2: A warmer palette of Benzimidazolone Yellow, Quinacridone Magenta, and Transparent Pyrrole Orange are used for this step in the demonstration. Add water to the paint, creating washes of contrasting values or intensities as desired over part of the paper, reserving a clean white portion of the paper.

STEP 3: Allow the QoR watercolor to dry.

STEP 4: To mask out areas of the painting using a stencil, set it over the area you would like to mask. Paper can be mounted to a panel or tape can be used to secure the paper. Tape can also be used to secure the stencil.

STEP 5: Use a palette knife or brush to quickly apply a layer of a gloss gel over the surface or stencil as desired.  Once the gel is down, try not to rework an area or disturb it. Agitation may cause the watercolor to reactivate and lift and the gel to retain air bubbles.

STEP 6: Carefully remove the stencil while the gel is still wet. Wipe off the excess gel and wash with soap and water. (The acrylic gel will initially appear white and clarify when dry, exposing the color beneath.)

STEP 7: Allow gel to completely dry. When the gel is dry the watercolor under the gel is protected from the subsequent layers of paint, while the areas of exposed paper are not. 

STEP 8: Next, dilute the cool colors (Ultramarine Blue and Payne’s Gray) with water and paint a glaze over different areas of paper. Notice how the dry, glossy acrylic repels the water, acting as a resist and revealing the warmer colors beneath.

Step 8

STEP 9: Wipe excess watercolor off of the dry gel with a paper towel.

Step 2
Step 5
Step 6
Step 8

Final: Stencil

Final: Brushed on

4 Responses to Watercolor Resist

  1. Diane Marcotte December 17, 2019 at 12:22 pm #

    The above link is to a poured pastel ground. Do you have a pdf on “watercolour resist with acrylic gel”? Thanks!

    • Cathy Jennings December 18, 2019 at 10:32 am #

      Hello Diane,
      Thank you for letting us know about the link. It should work correctly and take you here: Watercolor Resist with Acrylic Gel
      Warm Regards,

  2. Alice Dubiel December 17, 2019 at 12:30 pm #

    I’ve been working with this kind of acrylic resist technique for a few years now, especially using matte medium (which is more difficult than gloss), but I really like the effects.

    • Cathy Jennings December 18, 2019 at 10:34 am #

      Hello Alice,
      We are glad you have been having success with this approach. Yes, Matte Gel would be a bit more difficult since the matting agents will tend to hold onto the watercolor paint more than a gloss gel surface might.
      Happy creating,

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