Top Ten Tips and Tricks with Watercolor Paints

Watercolors are kids’ favorite paints! It is so easy to pull out that long box of paints, grab a paintbrush and pour a jar of water…then let the fun begin. Here are some tips and tricks to make those watercolor sessions even more exciting.

saltdragon1. Just add salt! It creates a speckled, star-burst pattern when it dries, like the pattern on our Green Salt Dragon. Sketch a picture with a light pencil line. Paint only the areas you want to salt. Use lots of wet, bright paint. While the paint is still wet and puddly, sprinkle salt on top…regular salt from the kitchen. Then set the paper aside to dry. When you come back, brush the dried salt away and see the beautiful pattern it left in the paint underneath. Carefully paint the rest of the picture if you want.

2. Paint on wet paper. Get a big sheet of paper completely wet. Dip it right into water in the sink. Then smooth it out on a cookie sheet or plastic tabletop. Brush thick, wet watercolors on top. They blurr and fuzz out on the wet paper, blending together and making strange shapes. After your fuzzy picture dries you can draw on top with a black marker pen.

3. Make a “zebra” painting. Use only black paint on white paper. Mix the paint with water to make all sorts of shades of grey. Lots of water creates light grey. Little water and lots of paint makes black.

4. Plastic wrap magic! Paint a picture with wet, colorful areas. While the paint is still wet and in puddles, crumple a sheet of plastic wrap and smush it down onto the wet paint. Don’t move the plastic around…just press it flat onto the paint. Then set the painting aside to dry for an hour. When you come back and pull off the plastic, you will discover strange and beautiful patterns in the dry paint beneath.

5. And Bubble Wrap too.  Do the same thing as Trick #4, but this time use “bubble wrap,” the sheets of packing plastic that are covered with little air bubbles. This makes an even different pattern as the paint dries.

6. Start with a seed! Glue a watermelon seed, or any kind of seed, onto a sheet of white paper. Then paint an imaginary plant..the roots growing from the seed underground, and the leaves and flowers and fruit of the plant above.

7. One half paintings are fun. Cut a big picture out of a magazine…a photo of an animal or a person or any colorful object works best. Then cut that photo right down the middle. Glue the half-photo onto a sheet of paper, then draw and paint the other half.

This also makes a fun project to do with a friend. Each of you paints half of the same photo…you do the right side while your friend does the left. After your paintings are dry, remove the magazine photos and glue your two half-paintings together to make one, complete, teamwork painting! It’s a wild effect, especially with faces.

8. Paint with homemade paintbrushes! Make your own brush with a twig, a rubber band, and some hair, or a clump of yarn or string, or cut up strips of rubber band, or strips of foam plastic. Use your imagination…what would make a useful paintbrush?

whitecrayonresist9. This is an old classic…but always lots of fun. Draw a design with white crayon on white paper. Yeah…this is hard to do, because you really can’t see what you’re drawing. So create a really wild design with lots of scribbles and dots and zigzag patterns. Then paint over the top of your “invisible” drawing with bright watercolors. Like magic, the drawing will appear in all it’s glory.

mtnlake10. When watercolors are brushed on very light and using a lot of water, they are called a “wash.” Paint a scene or the outdoors using light washes of watercolor, then outline your painting with dark marker pen.


For lots more fun painting ideas, buy the KidsArt booklet Paint, Paint and More Paint! from the KidsArt on-line store.


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