Watercolor Painting is one of the MOST versatile & effective ways to get your students painting and engaged in the art making process. Let’s dive in on 3 of the BEST Watercolor Painting Art Activities to Start with in your Art Classroom: Technique Exploration, Ink & Paint Artworks, and Observational Fruit Still Life Paintings. Keep reading because I have a free Watercolor painting technique template available to download in the blog post. #watercolorpainting #watercolorpaintsforbeginners
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Experiment with a Range of Watercolor Techniques
Before you start any bigger projects with your students, it is best to get them experimenting with watercolor painting techniques. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what age or the experience they have had with watercolors in the past, any time you start a unit with Watercolor paints, start with experimenting with techniques. As artists, we learn so much about how an art medium is used by us and how it reacts through experimenting and seeing what works and what simply doesn’t work. As well, one time you might hate dry brush, but a year later you’ve forgotten about the experience and try it again and realize that you can get some interesting texture with them. What I am saying is that you should never ever turn away the opportunity for artists to play and try things out for themselves and it doesn’t matter if they are in Kindergarten or high School, start with this but make it make sense for that age. For instance, I would at max try 3 techniques in kindergarten, but in High School I would ask a lot more… obviously. As well, kids might not like art as much in grade 6 but in grade 7? It has become THEIR THING. So even if you teach the same kids for years in a row… start here.
Okay so enough ramblings on my WHY I really need to you start with exploring watercolor painting techniques. Let’s get into a list of which ones to explore:
WATERCOLOR PAINTING TECHNIQUES TO EXPLORE:
–Wet-on-Wet Painting: Water down the paper and then paint wet paint onto wet paper. This is an important technique for developing textures exclusive to watercolor paints and for creating and developing beautiful gradients that can be used for water or your background.
–Wet-on-Dry Painting: Paint wet paint onto dry paper with this technique to get some crisp lines! Just don’t let the colors touch or you will get a bleed out, although I do rather like those myself!
–Sponge: Use a sponge to apply paint or lift off paint to create texture.
–Salt: Apply salt onto wet watercolor paint and then let it dry. You’ll notice right away that the paint is drawn toward the salt and of course this creates texture as it dries. Rub the salt off when it is completely dry. Try fine and course salt, although my personal preference is course.
– Thick & Thin: Experiment with painting Thick & Thin lines
–Bubble wrap, cling wrap, and foil: Dab wet watercolor paint on paper with these to create interesting texture. Works great on a wash background.
– Tissue Paper: Dab the wet watercolor painted paper with tissue paper to lift paint and create beautiful texture. The brown paper towels in schools that are stiff and scratchy work well for this as well.
–Resist Painting: Use wax crayon or oil pastel and draw lines first then apply paint on top for resist effects. Use white to create lines where the paper shows through.
–Rubbing Alcohol or Lemon Juice: both of these can be dripped onto the wet painted paper to create amazing textures!
FREE Printable Watercolor Painting Technique Template
I know that prepping literally everything for your classroom is a ton of work so I am here to make your life easier. Make sure you grab this free watercolor technique template here and then watch the video below to see it in action. You can even play the video in your classroom if you want me to teach while you support your students or re-do the demonstration like an “I do/You do” for each technique later.
Watercolor Painting with Ink & Paint
Ok so one of the techniques I love in my own personal practice (this is a great art lesson idea for upper elementary all the way to high school) is to draw with permanent fine tip marker FIRST, then paint. OR you can flip it… Paint first THEN draw around it and fill in the details with your permanent fine tip marker after the paper is fully dry. Or do both… maybe the students choose an image to create and have to create it twice, first drawing then painting, then on the second they paint first then draw. I guarantee the results will be shockingly different and it will really push your students to be creative and forced into creative thinking and experimentation. Neither will produce predictable results because of the nature of the medium which makes this totally fabulous, especially for high school students who don’t want to step outside their comfort zones.
Watercolor Fruit Observational Drawings
Okay so cut up some paper into squares, like a 1:1 ratio or instagram style pic. A square! Why? It’s trendy. Who cares? The kids. It is relatable for them. Tell them were making insta-worthy artworks. It is a hook and that is all. But also, it is a different proportion or canvas size to work with and you can easily apply the rule of thirds to it. Again, insta-worthy!
Okay, next, provide fruit or veggies or have kids bring one in, to each table or individual. If you’re a full time art teacher, do this with ALL your classes at the same time and keep them set up at tables like still life arrangements until all classes are done.
Have each student create a still life artwork of the fruit or veggie using watercolor paints and any of the techniques they have learned as a “show what you know” while also experimenting with observational skills and drawing… but more like observational still life painting.
If this is upper high school, like seniors, have them make 2-3 images by having them rotate through the tables instead of moving the still life pieces. Since the time blocks are longer, you can rotate them every 15 or 20 minutes depending on how much time you have with them. Or do it over multiple classes. I highly highly recommend this experimentation and art lesson and I think that everyone will love the results. And if it doesn’t work out for all students, I bet they will STILL have learned so much about the medium (even if the colors all run together and it turns into a multicolored blob. It is art, this is how we learn!).