Gel Soap Resist Acrylic Painting Lesson

Gel Soap Resist Acrylic PaintingIsn’t it FUN to experiment with art supplies! That is how new techniques and styles are created! The GEL Resist technique is one of my favorites and TONS OF FUN!!

I came across this technique on Pinterest  and thought it would be fun to do with my painting art camp I taught a couple summers ago.  This is a super fun and engaging art project for after school art or art club! I have done this with elementary through high school students and their reactions are always the same-WOW THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!

Natalie Wilson Schorr shows how she used this technique to create a cool skateboard design on her page Designing a Skateboard Deck Using Liquid Resist

Here is how we did it:

Supplies: Acrylic Paint (craft paint works ok), THICK PAPER 90lb+ Canson XL Series Watercolor Pad, 11″X15 (canvas doesn’t work well-other hard surfaces might work if it has been gessoed/primed & has a “tooth” to grab a hold of the paint well), Spray Paint, a Spoon, & Liquid Gel Dish Soap or Dishwasher Gel Soap (don’t get the runny cheap stuff-it won’t work!) *Affiliate links-products that I love , use, and recommend


  1. Paint the THICK PAPER with ACRYLIC Paint. Blending colors that are next to each other on the color wheel looks best. Its also fun to make simple designs like large circles! You could paint the  first layer with spray paint. Let dry completely.
    Paper surface used for example, but a canvas would work better

    Paper surface used for example (90lb Watercolor)

    acrylic paint applied to surface

    Acrylic paint applied to surface-COMPLETELY!

  2. With a spoon, drizzle gel dish soap randomly all over the surface.

    Liquid soap drizzles over surface

    Liquid soap drizzles over surface-make sure to leave some areas uncovered!!

  3. In a ventilated area (outside is best), spray the entire surface with spray paint. Let  strand 10-20 minutes making sure the spray paint is dry to the touch (may take longer depending on temp & humidity).
    Spray paint over entire surface

    Spray paint over entire surface

    After spray paint

    After spray paint

  4. Use a spray hose to completely rinse off the dish soap. (We did this outside, I DON’T recommend using your kitchen sink!!)                                                                                                             Gel Dish Soap Resist Acrylic Painting
  5. Finished artwork

 Gel Dish Soap Resist Acrylic Painting

Just a couple of troubleshooting tips:

1. Make sure the type of paint is ACRYLIC paint (if you use tempera or poster paint instead these will wash right off!).
2. It is best to use a MATTE ACRYLIC paint, NOT glossy. If the paint is glossy, it won’t have a “tooth” for the spray paint to attach on to.
3. Don’t apply the Gel soap over the whole canvas– instead drizzled in only some areas. If the whole canvas is covered with soap, the spray paint will have nothing to stick to & will wash off.

4. Make sure to let the spray paint dry enough before spraying off.
5. Spray water on a low setting-if the hose is on too high pressure or sprayed for too long all the paint might wash off.

6.The surface MUST be either THICK Paper (90lbs +) or a hard surface that has been gessoed or primed. We used 140lb Canson Watercolor paper.

Gel Soap Resist Acrylic PaintingTry it out yourself & let me know how it goes! If you choose to use ANY part of this blog (pictures or written information), please link back to Create Art with ME!

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  1. Cool! I’ve tried this before w/a green-blue-indigo-purple gradient. I used acrylic paint, then Palmolive to drizzle (tho’ I just stuck it in a thin-holed condiment bottle – like the old-fashioned ketchup bottles you’d see @ fixin’s bars) & then sprayed a flat dark gray spray paint over it. The nice colors come right through the dull gray & it really makes a great piece of art! 🙂

    • Hi! I think we used Krylon Gloss Black Spray Paint, it was close to $5 per can & with my whole camp we used part of 2 cans (both going at the same time). I do NOT recommend using the cheap stuff, it did not work as well!

  2. This looks really fun and I’m sure my school kids would love it! I’m just wondering if this damages the grass at all. I’d rather not have the principal or custodians on my case. 😉

    • Hi Rajean, My school has a big open grass courtyard in the middle-this is wear we sprayed off our paintings. I did not see that there was any damage to the grass, nor did I get any complaints from the facilities manager or administration. That being said, I would encourage you to spray these off in an area of low traffic as it might take a little while for the spray paint to dry on the grass. The soap did not affect the grass. Have fun creating-this is a really fun project!!

  3. Okay, so I tried this today with myself and two children. I attempted 3 different soaps to figure out which one I liked the best. HOWEVER, upon rinsing the canvas, the black paint actually washed the color right off and left me with white canvas again!!! It was the most bizarre thing ever!!! I’m not sure if the spray paint is wrong, the acrylic paints are wrong or what. The paint dried long enough and I even hit it with a hair dryer before we started the soap just to make double sure…

    • Hi Stephanie! I’m sorry that the project didn’t go as expected!! Here’s a couple of reasons why that might have been the case:
      1. The paint used on the canvas was not ACRYLIC paint (Was tempera or poster paint used instead?- those would wash right off!)
      2. The acrylic paint was glossy-it works best to use a matte ACRYLIC paint
      3. Gel soap was applied over the whole canvas instead drizzled in only some areas
      4. The spray paint didn’t dry enough before spraying off
      5. The hose was on too high pressure or sprayed for too long.

      Please check if any of these reasons were the cause & try again. Let me know how it goes again-I want to make sure you have a successful experience!!

  4. Looking forward to doing this, but I had one question. It says not to use a canvas at the beginning, but the picture caption says “Paper surface used for example, but a canvas would work better”

    What does that mean? Do you mean you should put the paper against a canvas or to use a canvas?

    • Hi, sorry I need to remove that caption. Paper does work best, the canvas seemed to wash the paint off more, even where there was no gel soap. I used a 90lb. Paper taped to a Masonite board-this is what I would recommend! Enjoy-this is SO MUCH FUN!!

  5. How did the paper react to being hosed down (was it still flat after it dried?). Do you think a piece of cardboard would work?

    • We used a thicker piece of paper (90lb) and limited how much we hosed the paper off, so the paper reacted well & remained intact. A 140lb watercolor paper would probably handle more hosing off, butI don’t think more is needed. We also let it dry completely on the board we taped it to (taped with masking tape).

  6. would a canvas tile work whereas a stretched canvas does not? this looks very interesting and anxious to give it a try!

    • Are you talking about canvas panels (canvas mounted on boards)? If so, I haven’t tried that yet. What ever surface you try MUST be gessoed! If you try it, let me know how it goes and I will add your results to the post.

  7. What is a brand of gel dish soap? I am not sure I know what “gel” dish soap is. I love this idea and think my adult students with disabilities could be successful doing this. I look forward to trying it . I have all the supplies but wondered about the soap. Is it just regular dish soap…like dawn or such?

    • Hi Carole,
      I used Dawn liquid dish soap (non-powder), it said it was “concentrated” & seemed a little thicker than some of the other dish soaps out there. The thicker the dish soap is, the less likely it is to run all over the place. Your adult students with disabilities would have a great time with this! To me it is about the process of creation and this process was fun!! Blessings ~Michelle

  8. Your instructions say use the paper, but other hard surface that has been gessoed will work. In the comments you say that whatever surface you use must be gessoed. Does this include the paper, or is it only for using a material other than watercolor paper?
    Thanks! Looking forward to trying this one.

    • It is fun!! I’ve never tried it on a t-shirt. Because you are apraying with spray paint, I’m not sure you’d want that on a shirt and I dont think it would be washable.

  9. Do you have to use a hose, Im doing this at my youth summer camp and I may not have access to a hose, I will have access to a sink

    • No you don’t have to use a hose! The last time I did this with my students I had a gallon size bucket & “threw” the water on it from a sideways motion and it worked great!