Marine Magic: Oil and Water Resist (March 2012)

The ‘resist’ technique with watercolours is a classic art project for young children. I remember using wax crayons when I was at school, but I think oil pastels are more effective as a water-repellent, and are also far more satisfying to draw with, producing a denser texture and richer colour than crayons.

Paul Klee (1879-1940), Golden Fish, 1925, oil and watercolour on paper

At Art Club, we always enjoy looking to great artists for ideas, and for this project it was the Swiss painter Paul Klee (1879-1940) whose beautiful oil and watercolour painting ‘Golden Fish’ (1925) also combines oil and water-based media. We looked, in particular, at the shapes and forms of the seaweed and plants surrounding Klee’s golden fish, but I also brought along some photographs of real fish and sea creatures for the children to refer to.

They created their own fish drawings using oil pastels, and then it was time to add the ocean by loading up a large household paintbrush with blue or black watercolours and washing them left and right across the paper.

When the oil in the pastels repels (resists) the water in the paint, a fantastic watery effect is created – particularly where the children have drawn ‘invisible’ marks using white oil pastel, which are then revealed as if by magic!

Please click below to view more pictures…





  1. This is fun. Candles also work quite well.
    And to imitate Klee’s pictures we also tried putting down different layers of colours with crayon, black on top, and then scratching out the picture.

  2. Not only have some of Paul Klee’s works been compared to that of children, but he himself is known to have included childlike drawings on some of his works in efforts to recapture his “inner child”, by way of staying grounded.
    So now we have actual children’s drawings inspired by his work to compare side-by-side. The price one can put on such comparisons has not been assessed and probably never will. Well done!

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