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Teaching Watercolor Technique

Here is a beautiful watercolor project guaranteed to bring smiles of satisfaction to children and parents alike. Techniques taught culminate in a beautiful image.

What it will teach

This project will help master the crucial skill of watching paint dry… and thereby teach when to apply more paint and how much water to use! The project also offers the opportunity to consider ways of applying the paint, and the effect that layering paint has on the texture and color of a finished piece.

What you need

  • Watercolour paint – tubes are best; choose 3-5 colours that they like.
  • An old toothbrush
  • Salt
  • Masking fluid
  • Mapping pen

What to do

1.) Using a mapping pen, apply fine lines of masking fluid radiating out from a central point to ‘draw’ the dandelion clock. Add dots and tiny crosses around the edge. Spatter patches of masking fluid onto the paper with the toothbrush. Let it dry.

2.) Dampen the paper with a brush. Mix up some watery washes and drop them onto the paper. Pick up the paper and move it around so that the colours blend. Let it dry – it should dry to a matt finish.

3.) Repeat the previous step with thicker paint. Watch carefully as it turns from glossy (wet) to mid-sheen (half-dry). Quickly place a drop of clean water on the centre of each dandelion clock. Flick drops of water over the paper with the toothbrush for different-sized shapes. Sprinkle salt in other areas. Let it dry. Watch what happens!

4.) Dampen the centres and drop in colour. Paint the stems with water, drop in colour at the top and hold the paper up so that the colour flows down the stem.

5.) Remove the masking fluid and marvel at the results.

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Adapting the Project

Younger children might enjoy using a wax crayon to draw the dandelion clocks instead. They could also try flicking paint (instead of water) onto dry, damp or wet picture surfaces, using a paintbrush or toothbrush. Then try lifting paint off the surface using a damp brush or kitchen roll. Watch and wait.

If you are painting with younger children, watch what they do – as yet unbounded by the restraints imposed by growing up, they are a constant source of inspiration!

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