Sunday, April 3, 2011

Watercolor Creatures

This project is a natural progression of last week's technical watercolor demonstration. Children can use a variety of techniques they learned in the demo. I originally envisioned fantastical sea monsters, but the majority of the children in my art class painted turtles (they are a favorite of the children). We also had a shark, a really large whale engulfing a fishing ship, and a jellyfish. (For the demo below, I painted a turtle since one of my sons loves them!). Whatever creature you decide to paint--have fun!

Supplies Needed (for each painter):

  • 1 piece of watercolor paper (I used 9"x12" Strathmore cold press watercolor paper from a pad)
  • 1 piece of heavy cardboard or foamcore board slightly larger than your watercolor paper
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil and eraser
  • 1 tray watercolors (I use Prang brand watercolors with my students--the colors are better quality than the dollar store/kid brands, 2 children can share a tray if necessary)
  • Water cup with water
  • Watercolor brush (The one that comes with the Prang set is fine, but don't use one from a cheap set, they are made of nylon and the results will be poor).
  • Ruler
  • Sharpie or other permanent marker (optional)
  • A drinking straw (optional)
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic wrap (optional)
  • Table salt in a cup or shaker (optional)
  • Crayons (I like Crayola brand)
  • Colored Pencils (Crayola brand or other good quality) (optional)
  • Reference books (Animals, Sea life, Shells, Dinosaurs, etc.)

1. Tape the watercolors paper to the cardboard using masking tape.

2. Using a pencil, lightly sketch a real or imaginary water creature on the paper. Don't draw too small since it will be frustrating to color and paint all of that tiny detail. Also, think about the environment of your water creature: is there a water line? a ground line? are there plants or other animals in the picture too?

Don't forget to use your reference books if necessary. There is nothing wrong about having to look at a picture of a shark in order to draw one! Many of us cannot draw them from memory! Chances are, if you are using a photograph or a model, you will be less frustrated and your drawing will come out better.

3. Once your sketch is done, use crayons over your pencil lines. This is the wax (or crayon) resist technique we learned last week, so you will want to press firmly with the crayons. You can use a variety of crayon colors, but do all of your crayon work now.

4. Once the crayon is done, you can start painting in the areas of the painting. Remember, to let the paint dry before moving on to other areas so that the paint from different sections don't bleed into one another. In my turtle picture, I painted the sky first and then I painted the turtle. These two sections are far away from one another so I didn't have to worry about the paint bleeding between them as I work. I also suggest leaving the areas where you'll be using salt and/or plastic wrap until last since they can't be disturbed once they are done.
First I painted the sky and then the turtle.

Then I painted a wash for the top of the pond and applied plastic wrap.

I then used the wet on wet technique to add a few different colors for the pond water. While the pond water was still wet I sprinkled some salt on it to create "sparkles" in the water.
5. Leave your painting to dry overnight. Once it is completely dry, remove the plastic wrap and brush off the salt. At this time you can decide that your painting is finished, or you can use crayons and/or colored pencils to add a final bit of detail.
Once the painting was dry, I used crayons and colored pencils to add some texture to the sky, another lily pad to cover a mistake I had made, and to add some motion lines in the water around the turtle's legs.

What a masterpiece!! Enjoy!

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