Friday, July 15, 2011

Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but painting day has saved my sanity on many occasions.  Something truly magical happens the moment that piece of paper is set in front of each child.  They get completely drawn in to the colors, the process, the images in their head, and the images that result.  Today my three year old marveled as her cleaning water changed color, and my seven year old has gone from being cranky that she can't draw exactly what is in her mind to starting with form and color and watching her paintings evolve from there.

Me?  I'm enjoying this weekly hour of zen.

When we first started this back in January, I thought I'd never keep up with a weekly painting day.  In all honesty, we haven't painted EVERY week, but we certainly painted more weeks than not.  It helps when you see the results. Quiet.  Focus.  Serenity.  And the setup and cleanup aren't very difficult.

The girls know where we keep everything, and they help every step of the way.  The first few weeks were tough, but it's a process of training.  Better to stick with it, endure their crazed enthusiasm, and help them set up and put things away step by step for the first few sessions.  In no time, they got the hang of it and I don't have to worry about spills anymore.  I keep one side of the sink half filled with soapy water, so after they are finished they know to pour their dirty water into the empty side of the sink, pour their excess paint back into the "mother" jars, and put their now empty jars and brushes go into the soapy water.  Towels and painting t-shirts go on the washing machine.  Easy peasy.

We began by experimenting with just one color at a time.  Yes, that means we had an entire page of blue, but it was a beautiful page of shades of blue.  In the spring we added yellow to our paintings, so our friend green surprised us with a visit.  This summer we switched to red and orange, those beautiful warm colors that we feel so intensely this time of year.  Now we are using all three primary colors, and it is wonderful to see how many variations the girls can come up with for their artwork.  Next year I'll add more colors, but I am so glad we took things slow and really took the time to play with each color and really learn how they play on the page.

Ella, age 7 1/2 - "Cave and  a Tree"

If you're looking for information on how to do wet-on-wet watercolor paintings, take a look at these tutorials:

Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting with Sarah Baldwin at Simple Homeschool - The best short overview I've seen.

The Wonder of Childhood: Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting Setup - This is a relatively new site, and they provide a nice list of supplies.

The Wonder of Childhood: Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting Tutorial - This is a fantastic painting tutorial, and it also offers ideas at the end for what to do with all those paintings you'll accumulate.


  1. i need to get my paints out again. for everyone. i have one child who is ALL ABOUT art, and she has her own space in her room(ok, her room IS her space--complete with paint on the carpet and ceiling and murals on the walls). i have seen the magic happen for them all though when the brushes and watercolors come forth. :) good reminder.
    it's good for mommy too!

  2. Absolutely! Every once in a while I sit down and paint with them, and I love it!


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