Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Watercolor Wonderland

My teens (and kids) LOVE art projects!  They get a chance to be creative in a way that homework usually doesn't allow, they can chat with friends (or even make new friends!), and they get to take home a product and say, "I made this!"

Grades 2-6 worked on "Watercolor Webs" in October.
Many librarians (myself included) can be intimidated by art as we feel we have to be good at art in order to offer it.  Not so!  My teens are so artistic, talented, and enthusiastic that they simply need supplies and a general direction before they're off and creating something amazing.  My absolute favorite craft night in 2018 featured watercolors; this project can be easily adapted for both kids AND teens.  You can do it too!


You will need:
  • Watercolor paper of any size
  • Watercolor pans
    • These are surprisingly inexpensive!  Kids and teens are also usually willing to share so you can have a pair working with one pan.
  • Watercolor brushes (extra)
  • Jars or cups with water
    • You will likely need to empty and refill these often with new water if your youth are changing colors a lot.
  • White crayons
  • Salt

Set-Up & Prep

  1. If your paper comes in a spiral notebook, tear out/trim these ahead of time.  Watercolor paper is very sturdy so it will take a bit longer than you think!
  2. Ensure each stations has at least one watercolor pan, one jar, and two brushes per two people attending.
  3. If you don't have a sink available in your craft area, bring a jug of clean water and an empty bowl/bucket to pour out used water.
  4. Place white crayons and a small bowl of salt at each table or station.

Craft Time!

Verbally walk your attendees through the project before they even begin.  It's great to even work on a small example as you speak so they can see the results. The steps are:
The (very quick) trial I did in preparation for our
watercolor projects.  I call this one "Tree in a Snowstorm."
  1. Create a design on your watercolor paper with your white crayons.  Don't be afraid to press hard!  Pressing hard will embed more wax onto the page and will make that area more water resistant. You may need to lean oddly to see your design as you draw as the white crayons will blend right into the white paper!
  2. Paint in watercolors.  Wet your brush and begin mixing water into your chosen color with your brush tip.  Once you have a "watery" paint, paint your brush over a section of your paper.
  3. BEFORE your watercolors dry, sprinkle a small amount of salt over the area.  Watercolors dry quickly so work in small sections.  The salt will absorb some of the water to create a speckled effect on your paper.
  4. Each time you wish to change colors, simply wet your brush down in the water jar and more to the next color in your pan.
Then set them loose on the supplies!  Some may need a reminder about various steps, but most will be set for the hour.  The most time-consuming portion is creating the design with the crayons.

Design Ideas

This artist took inspiration from every color of the rainbow!
We planned two different programs featuring these supplies.

Kids created Watercolor Webs* in October.  Everyone had fantastic concepts and each web was incredibly colorful!  I had some books with images of spiderwebs for design inspiration, but no one took me up on this offer.

Teens were slated to create Winter Watercolors* in December but we were lucky enough to be able to schedule a local art school to visit thanks to a grant from our Local Cultural Council.  We shelved this project for a later date.

*Links are to outside websites with which I have no affiliation.

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