Kids love doing watercolor art because it’s a robust, creative activity. If you’ve done your share of watercolor projects on paper, now might be time to try working on a new surface.
One of the advantages of using a harder surface like canvas board or scrap wood is its durability. This particular quality allows you to use everyday masking tape as a design making tool. How? Because the surface isn’t damaged when you remove the tape (as it would be if you were working on paper). The process is very simple, and the results are fun and rewarding.
You can find canvas board (also called ‘canvas panel’) at any art supply store. It’s inexpensive and comes in many sizes. You can pick up a package of five 5” x 7” boards for 3 or 4 dollars. Another good surface is any scrap or hobby wood you have lying around the house, in the shed, garage or basement. Just be sure it’s not varnished or it will resist watercolor penetration. If you don’t have hobby wood on hand, you can pick it up at any lumber or home improvement store.
-Jars of fresh water (for water supply- 1 jar per color)
-Egg carton (empty) or watercolor tray
-Spray Bottle (optional)
Prepare work area by spreading newspaper over your work table. Set out watercolors, brushes, jars ½ full of water and egg carton (for mixing paint).
What to Do:
1. Simply help your child apply strips of masking tape onto surface. You don’t have to design anything elaborate. A few strips this way and that are fine.
2. If you’re using a spray bottle, mist the surface. If not, use a paper towel to dampen the surface.
3. Prepare your colors in empty egg carton. Two or three colors is plenty.
4. Now work color over surface using wet brush. Use one brush per color. Here the colors were distributed into specific areas, but it is not necessary to use this method. Just have fun with it.
5. Wait 10-15 minutes. While you’re waiting, you can start another painting.
6. Gently remove tape from art work. If one strip of tape overlaps another, be sure that you are always removing the top piece. Don’t worry if watercolor has seeped beneath the tape–it can soften the look of the design. If you prefer a sharp line, be sure to press down firmly on the tape when you first apply it (and also use less water when preparing and applying color).
This next work uses the same procedure. Strips of tape were applied first, then color was applied with a brush. It’s okay if your child just scribbles paint on the surface. That kind of energy works well with this art project.
Once you remove the tape, your child might decide that the work isn’t finished yet. One way to continue working on a picture is to re-mist it with a spray bottle. Then use a brush wet with color and dab a little in the white areas left by the tape. That technique was used with yellow paint in the work above.
Another surface to work on is wood. The main consideration when working on wood is that in most cases the surface is more porous than canvass board. That means the colors will look faded because they are absorbed into the surface. In response, you simply need to apply two or three coats of paint. It’s worth the trouble, because the texture of wood can provide very rewarding results. If you use old, weathered wood, consider using a thicker paint like temepra or acrylic. The work to the right was done on ordinary fiberboard with watercolor.
Kids love doing watercolor art. Little else offers the same level of self-motivated, creative expression while at the same time holding your child’s complete focus and attention. Working on harder surfaces like canvass board offers a simple way to expand your use of materials and techniques. The hard surface is perfectly suited to design making for toddlers and up, and the results look great around the house! Best of luck–have fun!