Watercolor Painting with Kids: Genius Tips and Tricks

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Watercolor painting has long been a favorite medium for artists of all ages, offering a blend of vibrant colors and fluid techniques. However, when it comes to working with children, managing watercolor paint trays and brushes can present unique challenges. Fear not, as we’ve compiled a list of genius tips and tricks to make the most of your watercolor painting sessions with kids. From organizing paint trays to teaching proper brush care, these strategies will make your painting experiences enjoyable and mess-free for both teachers and students.

Ditch the Case

Vintage watercolor paint sets often come in elaborate cases with compartments for each color. While these cases may seem convenient, they can quickly become cluttered and difficult to manage, especially in a classroom setting.

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By removing the case, you eliminate the risk of paint spills and mold growth, making cleanup a breeze. Instead, opt for individual paint trays or containers that allow for easy organization and access to colors.

Additionally, removing the case encourages students to take ownership of their art supplies and practice organization skills. You can even repurpose the empty cases for other art projects or storage solutions.

Eliminate Dark Colors

Black, brown, and white paints are essential for many art projects, but they can also cause problems when mixed with other colors. These dark hues are notorious for contaminating lighter shades and creating muddy mixtures that detract from the vibrancy of watercolor art. To prevent this issue, consider removing dark colors from the paint trays altogether. By eliminating black, brown, and white paints, you encourage students to experiment with color mixing and blending techniques using a limited palette of primary and secondary colors.

Customize Your Trays

One size does not fit all when it comes to watercolor paint trays. Instead of sticking to traditional assortments, consider customizing your trays to suit the needs of specific projects or color schemes. For example, you could organize trays by rainbow assortments, warm and cool colors, or even flesh tones.

Customizing paint trays not only makes it easier for students to select colors but also facilitates learning about color theory and composition. You can use these customized trays as teaching tools, encouraging students to explore the relationships between different hues and experiment with various combinations.

Utilize Wake-Up Juice

Preparing paint trays with “wake-up juice,” a simple water spray, can make a world of difference in your painting sessions. This technique involves spraying water onto the paint trays before use, effectively activating the paints and preventing dry or sticky surfaces. By ensuring that the paints are ready for immediate application, you eliminate frustration and ensure smooth, consistent results.

Moreover, wake-up juice encourages students to dive right into their artwork without waiting for paint to moisten. This promotes a sense of excitement and momentum, keeping students engaged and focused on their creative process. Whether you use a spray bottle or a brush dipped in water, incorporating wake-up juice into your painting routine will enhance the overall experience for everyone involved.

Treat Paintbrushes like Ballerinas

Teaching children to handle their paintbrushes delicately is essential for maintaining both the brushes and the quality of their artwork. Encourage students to treat their brushes like ballerinas, delicately dancing on their toes. By emphasizing gentle strokes and careful handling, you instill a sense of respect for the tools of their craft.

Comparing paintbrushes to ballerinas can also make the concept more relatable and memorable for young artists. Just as a ballerina must practice grace and precision in her movements, so too must a painter wield their brush with finesse and control. This analogy reinforces the importance of patience and attention to detail in the artistic process.

Pet the Paint

Instead of digging into the paint trays with their brushes, encourage children to “pet” the paint gently. This technique involves lightly brushing the surface of the paint, allowing them to control the amount picked up without creating a mess. By petting the paint like a kitten, students learn to handle their brushes with care and finesse.

Furthermore, petting the paint promotes a lighter touch and smoother application, resulting in more controlled and vibrant artwork. This technique also minimizes waste and prevents excess paint from accumulating on the brush, leading to cleaner and more precise brushwork.

Clean Brushes Properly

Proper brush care is essential for maintaining the integrity of your paintbrushes and achieving optimal results in your artwork. Teach children to clean their brushes thoroughly after each use by swirling them in a “paintbrush bathtub” and giving them a gentle scrub. This removes excess paint and prevents colors from mixing and contaminating one another. After cleaning, encourage students to dry their brushes on a designated sponge to ensure that they remain in good condition for future use.

Differentiate Translucent and Opaque Paints

Understanding the properties of translucent and opaque paints is crucial for creating dynamic and layered artwork. Watercolor paints are inherently translucent, meaning they allow light to pass through them, resulting in a luminous and ethereal quality. In contrast, opaque paints cover the surface completely, resulting in a more solid and opaque finish. Encourage experimentation with layering and blending techniques to create depth and dimension in their paintings.

Closing Thoughts

Watercolor painting with kids can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience with the right tips and tricks at your disposal. By implementing strategies such as customizing paint trays, utilizing wake-up juice, and teaching proper brush care, you can create a dynamic and engaging painting environment for young artists. Encourage experimentation, foster creativity, and watch as your students’ artwork flourishes with each stroke of the brush.


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