Watercolor paintings – to wax or not to wax?

There’s more than one way to preserve your watercolor paintings. I happen to prefer using Dorland’s wax medium.

After I’m done with the painting, I let it dry overnight. Then, I take a paper towel and apply a layer of Dorland’s wax medium.

I let that wax layer dry out overnight and apply a second layer. I let that wax layer dry out overnight and apply a third layer.

Overall, I like having three layers of wax protecting my watercolor paintings.

After the wax is applied, it leaves a sheen. To me, it really makes my models pop out even more.

I happen to love that look. But you may not.

I’ve seen a few traditional watercolor artists who say that once you apply the wax layer, it no longer looks like a watercolor painting.

I get it. It’s totally personal preference.

So I would advise trying it out. Buy a small bottle of Dorland’s wax. Or you could buy their competitor. Dorland’s just happens to be what I’ve found in my local art store.

See if you like it. If you don’t like that look, then don’t use it again.

I think it’s fantastic. I think it really brings forth the colors. Especially the models.

What it is

Dorland’s wax medium is a mixture of wax and resin. It serves as a topcoat to seal and protect your watercolor painting.

You don’t have to use this just for watercolors or gouache. You can really use it for almost any medium.

Sophia Succubus
Sophia after the second layer of wax

One serious warning with wax

If you are painting people, make sure you wax the person first.

Blues are especially bad. If you wax the blue, some of it will go onto your towel/paper towel and smear on the subject, leaving a blue streak across your subject.

This could potentially ruin your painting.

So wax the subject first. Then wax the rest of the painting.

This is something you have to learn by doing.

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