Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

Watercolors Suitable for Framing

January 12, 2010

Although I usually encourage you to use what you have around the house for craft project, once in a while it’s fun to capture your child’s artwork on good, acid-free paper that will still look great in 10 or 20 years.  I was in a friend’s house the other day and complimented her on a beautiful, framed painting hanging by the door.  It turns out her 8-year old son was the artist and did the painting at a class at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  We decided to try the project at home, and I love the results so far.  We’re still working on our paintings and I’ll post what they look like when they’re complete!

For this project, you’ll need watercolor paper, watercolor paints, masking or drafting tape and brushes (the bigger the better.)  I’d recommend visiting a craft store, or an art store like Dick Blick to buy your watercolor paper.  I bought #140 pound cold press watercolor paper, which is medium-weight and textured, but you can choose whatever you want.  I wouldn’t spend more than three or four dollars for a 22×30 inch piece of paper.  (The ones we got were on sale for 99cents.)  You can order paper online at  I’d also invest in some inexpensive watercolor brushes that are bigger than the ones that come with dry paints.  It will allow your kids to cover more area with paint with less effort.  It’s fun to different shape brushes too and let them experiment with making different brush strokes.  For not much money, you can buy wide brushes with bamboo or wooden handles.   The watercolor paints that come in tubes are more fun to work with than the pancake ones, since they make it easy to get lots of paint and water on your brush.  Once again, don’t buy expensive paints, unless you’re buying them for yourself. 

Tape your paper to a table or the floor with masking or drafting tape.  Then, using a ruler or eyeballing it, divide the paper into six even sections with your tape.  (In this picture, I have four pieces of paper taped next to one another.)


Have your child draw the same, or similar designs on each panel of their painting.  Then, ask them to paint each panel with different colors.  Tell them to experiment with mixing colors.  A large plate works well for mixing paint. Fill up a large container with water.  A big yogurt container or plastic bucket would work well and be sure to have paper towels on hand for blotting and cleaning up. 

Completing their masterpieces may take more than one sitting!  Your child can embellish the paintings with crayons or pastels or chalk to make them look even more interesting.  When they’re finished, peel the tape off and you’ll have a great, colorful work of art. 

As usual, my four-year old did her own thing, which I love.  (I’d definitely recommend doing your own painting alongside your kids.  Why should they have all the fun? I did the one at the top of this post.)

Watercolor for kids (and parents)

November 10, 2008


Try painting with your kids.  They will love it and you may too!  Find your inner artist.  Grab a bowl of fruit, or just an apple, and paint it.  Add a little shadow.  Use unconventional colors.  How many famous artists draw brown and green trees?  None!  Grab that photo you’ve always wanted to have painted and give it a shot. 

You may surprise yourself!  The more you paint with your kids, the better you’ll get.  Like anything, drawing and painting just take a little practice.  We all need a little more art in our lives (especially those of us who spend our days carpooling and serving food to less-than-appreciative audiences.) 

Usually, my children do thier drawing and painting on recycled printer paper or construction paper, but they absolutely love it when I let them use my “real” watercolor paper to paint on. Since my paper is pricey,  I recently invested in some kids’ watercolor paper.  It has been a huge hit at my house!  You can find it almost anywhere.  I ordered some large pads of the paper from the Dick Blick (art supplies) website.  Don’t buy expensive paper- it should just be “watercolor paper”, which is thicker than notebook paper and may have a little texture.


Let them experiment with it.  We just use the washable watercolor palettes that you buy your kids for school.  I do love to have a few bigger brushes around for them to play with.  It’s hard to put lots of paint on the tiny brushes that come with the paint.  Most craft stores carry watercolor brushes.  Once again, don’t buy really expensive ones unless you want to use them yourself!  I love the brushes that are medium sized and have a tapered end, so you can paint big or small and do artsy-looking strokes!  Buy one huge brush for wetting the whole page with water so you can play with painting wet-on-wet!

Have them paint different color spots or lines right next to each other and then load their brushes with clear water.  When they paint the water between the colors, they can watch the colors bleed together and make new colors and pretty designs.  Some kids I had at my house the other day let their paintings dry, cut them up and glued them onto another piece of paper to make a collage.  They were suitable for framing!


Have fun and watch what evolves.  Paintings have a way of changing into something unexpected. Enjoy the process! 

I’m working on some great Thanksgiving craft ideas, so keep posted!