10 Creative Watercolor Techniques for Kids
In our special guest blog post, art teacher Jen Roberts provides some fun tips on experimenting with watercolor techniques with kids. Prepare to get messy!
As a children's art teacher, I find most kids love mixing paints and experimenting with different techniques.
A recent lesson which proved incredibly popular was on watercolor techniques. It was a great way to combine simple drawing, writing, and other fun activities to see what happens with each step.
Let's start with a few general watercolor tips first:
- When using watercolors, dip the brush in water and then twirl it on the color of choice.
- Dip again for a lighter and more watery color.
- Always rinse the brush well in a water pot between different color applications.
- If the water pot is too murky, rinse and get fresh water – this will keep the colors in your painting vibrant.
What you will need:
- Children's watercolor pallet (find these in art shops and discount stores)
- Paint brush (medium-sized)
- Water pot and water (you can use a cup or jar)
- A3 drawing paper
- Lead pencil
- Permanent marker (such as a Sharpie pen)
- Drinking straw
- Oil pastel
- Paper towels
Using lead pencil, draw a heading 'Watercolor Techniques', then draw 10 rectangles labeled with each one of these headings: Plain, Mixed, Oil Pastel, Marker, Permanent Marker, Salt, Wet on Wet, Wet on Dry, Straw, and Paper Towel.
Paint the rectangle in one primary color (red, blue, or yellow).
Using two of the primary colors, create a secondary color and fill the rectangle.
3. Oil pastel
Using an oil pastel (white or yellow works great for this), draw patterns in the rectangle, then choose any color to paint over. See what happens!
Draw any pattern in the rectangle with the marker and paint over the top. Watch the marker disappear and blend with the paint.
5. Permanent marker
Draw a different pattern with the marker and then paint over the top in a different color. Observe the difference from the standard marker.
Mix another color in the rectangle and then sprinkle salt onto it – be generous. Kids love to watch the salt absorb the color. Once the paint is dry, shake the salt off and enjoy the effect.
7. Wet on wet
Paint the rectangle in a different color and while the paint is still wet, paint some dots onto the wet paint (black works well for this). Watch the new color blur into the other color.
8. Wet on dry
Choose a different color and paint the rectangle and leave to dry. Once dry, paint some dots or lines onto the dry paint – see the difference from the above.
Load the paint brush up with lots of water and paint the rectangle – it should be very wet. Using the straw, have your child blow and watch the paint dance off into different part of the page and give a dripping effect. They will love this!
10. Paper towel
After painting the last rectangle in any color, use a scrunched up paper towel to dab the paint – it should produce a blotchy effect.
Chat to your kids about using any of these techniques in an artwork of their choice. The salt technique works well for creating an 'underwater' effect, and the paper towel effect is great for painting animals with fur. You can also try out the straw‑blowing technique for a crazy monster artwork!