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!