Painting with watercolors doesn’t need to be overly difficult or messy for kids to do! Find out how to set up a watercolor art project for kids with the best tips, list of favorite watercolor supplies and fun watercolor techniques to try. Plus, easy watercolor painting ideas that kids will love! Grab the free printable watercolor projects guide to get started today!
Why Do Art With Kids?
Children are naturally curious. They observe, explore, and imitate, trying to figure out how things work and how to control themselves and their environments. This freedom of exploration helps children form connections in their brain, it helps them learn—and it’s also fun!
Art is a natural activity to support this essential interaction with the world. Kids need the freedom to explore and experiment creatively.
Art allows children to practice a wide range of skills that are useful not only for life but also for learning. These include the aesthetic, scientific, interpersonal, and practical interactions that can be discovered through the senses, intellect, and emotions.
Making and appreciating art involves emotional and mental faculties!
Art, whether making it, learning about it, or simply looking at it – offers a wide range of important experiences. In other words, it’s good for them!
Make sure to check out our list of over 50 do-able and fun art projects for kids!
Tips For Doing Watercolor Art With Kids
Using watercolors with kids can be a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to introduce them to art and creativity. Here are some easy tips to make the experience enjoyable and successful:
1. Prepare the Workspace
Cover the table or work area with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to protect against spills and stains. Keep a water container (or two) for rinsing brushes and a stack of paper towels handy.
2. Start with Basic Supplies
Begin with a basic set of watercolor paints (Winsor Newton has a nice travel set), good-quality watercolor-specific brushes, watercolor paper, and a container of water. I prefer 140lb+ paperweight! See our list of favorite watercolor supplies further on!
3. Demonstrate Watercolor Techniques
First, show the kids how to activate the watercolors using a spray bottle and misting the pods. Next, show kids how to dip the brush in water, load it with watercolor paint, and apply it to the paper. Then, demonstrate basic techniques like wet-on-wet (painting on wet paper), wet-on-dry (painting on dry paper), and blending colors.
Teach kids how to mix colors to create new shades. Start with primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and show them how to create secondary colors (orange, green, purple) by mixing primary colors together. Grab our color mixing worksheet for more ideas!
5. Use Minimal Water
Encourage kids to start with a small amount of water on their brush and gradually add more as needed. Alternatively, wash the whole paper in water and create colorful bursts by dabbing the tip of the brush to the paper!
6. Encourage Creativity
Give kids the freedom to express themselves. Encourage them to paint whatever they like – whether it’s abstract shapes, animals, landscapes, or splatters.
7. Be Patient
Watercolors require some drying time. Encourage kids to work on different parts of their painting while waiting for specific areas to dry. With adult supervision, you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process if necessary.
8. Provide Positive Feedback
Offer praise and positive feedback for their efforts. Highlight what you like about their work and encourage them to keep exploring. Create an art gallery! Find thrift store frames and repaint them to create an exhibit!
More Fun Watercolor Techniques To Try
Experiment With Brush Strokes
Show kids different brush strokes they can use, like straight lines, curvy lines, dots, and short dashes. Let them experiment with creating different textures.
Use Salt for Texture
Sprinkle salt onto wet watercolor paint to create interesting textures. The salt absorbs some of the paint, leaving behind unique patterns. See this technique with our galaxy painting and ocean painting below.
Practice Blotting and Lifting
Teach kids how to blot excess water or paint with a paper towel to create lighter areas or correct mistakes. Make little crumpled paper towel balls to add texture when blotting. Perfect for clouds. They can also use a clean, damp brush to lift color off the paper. Kids find it quite fun to “suck up” water from the paper with a dry brush.
Let kids draw with a white crayon on the paper before painting. The wax will resist the paint, creating interesting effects.
Use Masking Tape
If desired, kids can use paper tape to create clean edges or borders on their paper before painting. Taping the paper to a table or board will also help encourage the paper to lay flat as water is applied.
Remember that the process of creating with watercolors is just as important as the final result! Enjoy the journey of exploring colors and techniques with the kids!
How To Make Watercolor Paint
HINT: While you can start off with inexpensive watercolor paints for younger kids, if possible, try to purchase better quality, especially for elementary and middle school-age kids. Often a better watercolor set will yield better results and be more encouraging!
List Of Favorite Watercolor Supplies
Here’s a quick list of a few of my favorite watercolor supplies. For all my favorite art supplies, check out my DIY art cart! However, these items are on my cart now too!
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- Watercolor Paper
- Watercolor paints (pan or liquid form)
- Watercolor Brushes
- Watercolor Pencils (these are so much fun!)
- Watercolor Markers
- Masking Tape
Tip: Cut larger sheets into smaller pieces! Often, a large sheet of blank space can be daunting, whereas a 4″x5″ piece (or smaller) is inspiring!
Watercolor Painting Ideas For Kids
Ready to try out a few watercolor art projects? Here are some fantastic ideas to get you started. Use them step by step or as a springboard for your own creativity. You can even add additional materials to create mixed media.
Simple Watercolor Art Idea: Practice freehand shapes like circles. Make circles of different sizes that overlap each other. Pick just a few colors to mix. The wet parts that overlap will mix together. Play around with different amounts of water on the brush or the paper.
Paint apples with watercolors and highlight them with easy to make black glue for a fun way to jump into art this fall. You could also try this with pumpkins and leaves. Free printable templates included.
Try something a little different by creating abstract art inspired by famous artist, Hilma Af Klint. Grab the printable coloring page, and watercolors to create a painting with colorful abstract shapes.
Create a fun and colorful landscape painting inspired by Australian artist, Bronwyn Bancroft. Paint the background of the printable landscape in watercolors, and then experiment with a layer of dot painting for a cool effect.
This galaxy watercolor painting is a great way to explore mixed media art with kiddos of all ages. All you need is some watercolors, salt and a sheet of art paper to make the colors of the universe.
A fun way to learn about jellyfish, and create a colorful watercolor painting in the process.
Grab a handful of leaves to create nature inspired art. Similar to leaf rubbing, make watercolor resist art for kids with crayons and watercolors.
Explore impressionist art with a few simple supplies, with a Monet Bridge Over A Pond inspired art project for kids!
This fabulous ocean watercolor painting is easy to make with just a few simple materials. Use watercolors to create an ocean background, and add in one or more of our printable sea creatures.
Experiment with watercolors with this fun and easy process art project! Paint any design you like using watercolor paints, and then add in the details with markers.
Get the free printable sunflowers template, and use watercolor paints to create your own masterpiece inspired by famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh.
This watercolor art project uses cupcake liners as flowers. Paint the background with watercolors of your choice and you have a fun boutique of flowers.
Try this simple to set up water droplet painting activity for kids. Any theme, any season, all you need is a little imagination, water, and paint. Even if your kiddos aren’t the crafty type, every kid loves to paint with water drops.
Helpful Art Resources To Get You Started
Here are a few resources that will help you introduce art more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident yourself when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.
- Free Color Mixing Mini Pack
- Getting Started with Process Art
- Preschool Art Projects
- How To Set Up An Art Cart
- Easy Painting Ideas For Kids
- Fun Pop Art Ideas
- Free Art Challenges
- What Are The 7 Elements Of Art?
- What is STEAM?
- STEAM Activities (Science + Art)
This fantastic art projects pack includes a variety of art technique packs to cover different areas of the art experience! Perfect for ages 5-12, with various activities to suit all age levels. Easy to use in the home or classroom.