Bridging Art & Science: Watercolour Wednesdays

Bridging Art & Science: Watercolour Wednesdays
For today’s inspiration Monday, I thought I’d share our new appreciation for watercolour painting.

Inspired by the Waldorf concept that watercolours paints are wonderful for experimenting with colour mixing, and beautiful because kids can see the light through the colours they are using, we thought we’d give them a try.  We ordered some Stockmar watercolours (the three primary colours), and gave it a whirl (on a Wednesday).

Here’s a quick step-by-step for those of you who are new to the process:

 1. Gather Your Supplies: watercolour paper, mixing jars, watercolour paints, brushes, and, of course, water!

2. Soak your paper in water for approximately 10-15 minutes.  We did ours in the kitchen sink.

3. Add paint to your jars.  This could, but doesn’t need to be, an exact science.  I went for a blob in each jar, and filled each one 1/3 of the way with water.

The first time, it was too watery.  So, the next time I went for a bigger blob of paint.

Experimentation is part of the fun! (of course, this attitude may be the reason my baking is sometimes less than delectable).  Come to think of it, if you wanted to set this up like a proper experiment, it would make a great introduction to the scientific process…

4. Apply paint liberally by brush.  Sure, there is a lot more to it than that.

Like, use too much water and your painting will dry pale and washed out (done that).  Or, clean your brush before using a new colour (so you don’t get a lovely mucky brown in all the jars.  Also done that).  Or (because paint can be costly), refrigerate your leftover paint in its jar for next time (it’s there now). Or, tape around the edges of your paper with masking tape (to create a beautiful border for your work).  And, start with the lightest colours first, as a wash, working towards the dark accents (if you’re actually at the point where the end product means more than the process – we aren’t).

But, basically, go wild.  And be sure to keep a cloth handy for spills.

If you’re looking for a great colour mixing activity, with a bit of the feel of an experiment, watercolours are a perfect option.  The entire process is engaging in and of itself, and the gorgeous array of colours create a piece of art that appeals to the eye.

Not only do my kids love them (even my 16 month old was fascinated) – I love learning about a medium that is new to me.  All in all, it is a win-win activity for us.

Expanding the Experience: Bridging with Storytelling

We just had our second “Watercolour Wednesday,” and it was, once again, a hit.  My son has two favourite parts.  One, soaking the paper in water, and two, telling a story while we paint.  This is an extension that I came across over at Bending Birches (the gorgeous, inspired, Waldorf blog, that I also credit with the concept of Watercolour Wednesdays).

Dylan loves the storytelling aspect, which is something that I am huge proponent of.  As a children’s librarian, I am passionate about the power of storytelling, and reading aloud.  But, until now, I hadn’t thought to incorporate it into our painting activities.  Bingo!  It is such a beautiful combination.  Not only do we enjoy telling stories to each other, it gives my son inspiration on how and what to paint.  In past painting experiments, he had often done a few lines or circles, and lost interest.  Now, he wants to know how the colours are mixed (my latest stump: “how do you make silver, Mommy?”).  And he tells me elaborate stories about what he is painting.  This week’s involved a train, some kids and a storm.

True, we’re still working on our technique.  The first week, the paint was a bit too watery, the second, a bit too bright.  And, this week, our paintings ended up a pretty uniform brown.  But, my son and I are both enjoying the learning process, and the wonderful bonding that accompanies the creative process.  It feels lovely.  So, if you’re up for it, join us (at least in spirit) this Wednesday afternoon.  You know what we’ll be up to!

We’re linking up with Saturday’s Artist at Ordinary Life Magic and Look What We Did! @ Red Oak Lane / Learning All The Time Enjoy!

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  1. My boys are 6 & 8, and we’ve done lots of watercolor in the past, but I can’t say I’ve been very intentional about it (to my shame). My husband has an art degree, so I try to make him responsible for these kinds of activities, especially the clean-up! :-) I’m thinking that adding story telling would really encourage wonderful ideas to come out on the paper. Thanks for the idea, and I enjoyed your photos too!

    • Glad you liked it. Looking forward to hearing how the storytelling works out for you. I hadn’t thought of it, but find it makes engaging my son’s interest in the painting process very natural. Thanks for your comments. All the best!

  2. I am the WORST about art. We need an art teacher or classes or something, because my kids never get “art” besides drawing pictures when they feel like it. Yes, I need to do something about that. Sigh.

    • I’ve just started introducing more art into our lives, at least consciously. I know a lot of people who are reticent because of the mess it can make. Luckily, mess is something I can live with. But, I’m learning new ways to engage my son in art (as he’s never been a huge lover of drawing). But, he does like painting better! Anyways, everytime we do art together, I am so happy, because it is one of the activities that I also truly enjoy. There is something wonderful about drawing and gluing, and painting… Anyways, just some encouragement… go for it! Find some fun new materials (like the beeswax crayons we just got) and who knows, you may find you love it too.

  3. Hey Kelly,
    Can Eden and I join you this Wednesday? I think she’d love it… she’s so into drawing since she was at your house. :)

    • Of course! We’d love the company!

  4. I just read this tonight and it is funny because I have just started to work with water color crayons and pencil crayons. I love it. I want to buy some supplies to get the boys into it too. Orran loves art and wants to be an artist. I am going to incorporate therapeutic art into my Horticultural Therapy work using water colors. There are so many things in nature that can be painted. I am hooked.

    • Ooh. I’ve been wanting to try water colour crayons next. I’ve noticed how artistic Orran is. That’s very cool. And the nature connections are amazing. Patterns, textures, colours… We’ve also been doing leaf rubbings and wanting to do some leaf stamping. Topics for another post, I guess. I’d love to know more about therapeutic art. From my own experience, that place I go to when I am creating art is immediately both calming and exhilarating. And it really helps Dylan calm and focus, too. Hmmm… sounds like a visit to the library is in order. If you know any good books on the subject, let me know.

  5. You have inspired me. We have a little extra time today so I may get out the paints and enjoy some art with my children. I’m visiting from the homeschool carnival.

    • Thanks, Jennifer. Hope the painting went well! This week, we were at it again, and managed to paint a family “masterpiece” together. My son also came up with the idea of painting envelopes for his birthday party invitations, so we did that, too. It was so much fun for all of us! Thanks for visiting. All the best!

  6. Wonderful! I’ve been meaning to try this. Thanks for the tutorial :)

    • You’re quite welcome. Looking forward to trying some of your links!

  7. Thank you for linking up with “Look What We Did”–what a lovely project! We are trying to find more time for art!

    • You’re quite welcome. I just found it, and, as I’m collecting tutorials here, I should always have something to share! My secret about art – we do a lot of it, because I enjoy it so much… that and nature walks.


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