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Lesson: Miroco Machiko Wax-Resist Paintings

October 23, 2015 | By Rachel Zink

October is Art History Month at Arts For Life, and students are taking their cues from experts including Miroco Machiko. Machiko is an award-winning Japanese painter and illustrator currently living and working in Japan. Her work is characterized by an intuitive, childlike style and bold use of saturated color.


  • To learn about and emulate the work of Japanese painter and illustrator Miroco Machiko.
  • To learn the watercolor painting technique of wax-resist.
  • To encourage self-expression and creative thinking, using Machiko’s bright, whimsical, and simple works as a point of inspiration.


  • 12×18 white cardstock or watercolor paper
  • Pencil (optional)
  • Crayons
  • Black watercolor (or other dark color)
  • Large paintbrush
  • Cups for water


  • Look at examples of Machiko’s work. One thing that is so appealing about it is that it looks easy! Let her simple designs, patterns, and colors inspire you.
  • Using Machiko’s work as inspiration, use a pencil to lightly sketch some plants on your paper. These do not have to look like real plants or flowers that you may have seen before. Use your imagination and draw big! Your plants should take up most of your paper.
  • Use crayons to color in the plants that you have sketched. Remember to push down hard with the crayons in order to create bold, bright, even layers of color with no white showing. You don’t have to use typical colors. Use at least two colors in any given section.
  • Use crayon to draw a little row of grass at the bottom of your paper, at the base of all your plants.
  • Squeeze a little bit of black liquid watercolor in a cup. Mix in some water at a ratio of 1:1/2 paint:water.
  • Use a large brush to paint the watercolor wash all over your paper, including directly on top of your plant drawings. Your crayon drawings will resist the wet paint and pool on the surface. Allow your painting to dry completely.

Tweak It! 

  • In addition to her plant paintings, Machiko also has amazing animal paintings. You can view them here. Use one of these as an inspiration for the same wax-resist process.

Photo: “Garden” by Erica, age 14

© 2015 Arts For Life