Watercolor is the perfect paint medium for kids- It’s probably the least messy and involved of all the paints, and it’s incredibly versatile. Plus it dries quickly for instant displaying gratification.
Here are 8 ways to play around with watercolor techniques when you just want to break out the paints and paper, but don’t really want to embark on a whole project. Playing with art materials is an awesome way to get kids comfortable with being creative without the pressure of a spectacular finished product.
- Watercolor paints
- watercolor paper or heavy board like illustration board or mat board
- Watercolor brushes
- Painting pan- we use a butcher pan or jelly roll pan to contain the mess.
- Jar of water. Must be a mason jar. Just kidding.
- Alcohol and a dropper
- Tape- masking or blue painters tape
- Rubber cement
- Paper towels
1. Watercolor Wax Resist This is a classic technique, and one that yields great results, because it is magic. Try the traditional white crayon with darker watercolor over it, or bright crayon colors with lighter colored watercolors on top. Either way gives very cool results.
2. Sprinkle salt into watercolor paint. Make sure the paint is very wet, and there’s lots of it pooling on the paper to get the best effect with this technique. I’ve seen some people say they get better results with larger salt crystals, but I haven’t seen much of a difference between big and small crystals. Brush the salt off after it’s dry.
We dripped some wet green paint into the whole mess after sprinkling the salt on:
3. Drip alcohol by the eyedropper onto watercolor. This was actually the back side. We painted ont the front of the paper and dripped alcohol on it. That looked cool, but when we flipped it over and painted on the back side, it looked even better!
This was sort of a mess of too-watery watercolor and lots of alcohol dripped in, still kind of interesting:
4. Use wadded-up paper towel to blot areas of wet watercolor away. You’ll most likely have these out anyway, so put them to good use! Check out the cool texture you get.
5. Tape resist. Use scotch tape or masking on the surface before painting, and remove the tape when the paint is just about dry. Be careful not to rip the paper when removing the tape.
6. Rubber Cement resist – In a well-ventilated area, brush on some rubber cement or drizzle it, wait for it to dry and watercolor over it.
7. Paint a big old wet puddle of a light color, say, yellow. With a clean brush, pick up a less wet blob of a darker color, say, blue, and drop it into the lighter puddle. Watch the fun! At this point, if you want to try the wadded-up paper towel trick, that looks cool, too.
Experiment with the wetness of the paint. This is blue paint is dabbed onto not-so-wet red paint:
But it was wet enough to texture-blot with some paper towel:
8. Draw into the watercolor – Use pencil to draw into the wettish watercolor, or once it’s mostly dry, draw over it with ink. The ink will spread a little, but not as much as when you drip into the wet paint.
9. Drop ink into wet watercolor. I love this technique because the colors are nice and dramatic with the black dropped in. Remember the ink and watercolor project we did previously?
A note about materials: for the techniques above, we simply used pan watercolors. I would steer away from the super-cheap pan paints, bit you dont have to go for the professional paints, either. There are some middle ground watercolor paints that are very good quality. We love these, they last FOREVER, and are so much more vibrant than cheapo watercolors:
These are some of the other art materials we use on a near-daily basis:
If you like these, please follow my Art Materials and Techniques Pinterest board.