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Big Brave Drawing Techniques: Wax Resist

By The Arty Teacher - January 21, 2024

Below are Rob Le Grice’s adaptation of the wax-resist technique that Henry Moore famously used in his series ‘Shelter Drawings’.

Henry Moore was a renowned British sculptor known for his monumental and abstract works, characterized by organic forms and a deep exploration of the human figure.

Henry Moore’s “Shelter Drawings” are a series of sketches created during World War II depicting Londoners taking refuge in underground stations during air raids. In these drawings, Moore employed a wax resist technique by applying wax to the paper before painting with ink, allowing for a distinctive interplay between the dark ink and the areas protected by the wax, adding texture and depth to the powerful wartime scenes.

Big Brave Drawing Techniques: Wax Resist
Henry Moore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Big Brave Drawing Techniques: Wax Resist
Henry Moore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Re-cycled cardboard is a great surface for drawing with white oil pastel, giving an earthy texture that captures skulls, bones and stones really well. Applying a dark ink wash over the top is the scary but magic part of the process. It never fails to create a powerful drawing with strong contrasts.  Rob Le Grice has mastered this below.

Big Brave Drawing Techniques: Wax Resist

Le Grice told me that his students often ask him, why cardboard? He answers, “Not only is the texture great but it’s free! So, if it goes wrong, you can do another and another – taking lots of risks.”

Big Brave Drawing Techniques: Wax Resist
Big Brave Drawing Techniques: Wax Resist

Rob Le Grice offers workshops in schools in the London, SE and SW of England and you can find him on my artists in schools database. If you’re interested in seeing more of Rob’s ‘Big, Brave Drawing’ ideas let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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