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Old 01-12-2009, 09:13 AM
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wcartistsr wcartistsr is offline
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Teaching Watercolor to Children

I have a 6yr. old granddaughter who is very interested in art (and crafts, too). I would like to get her started on a little watercolor but I am not sure how to do this. I have had one session with her where I drew a very simple flower shape and showed her how to wet a petal and drop colors into it. I then let her just draw and paint what she wanted to.

I think my approach would be to teach her how to handle watercolor, but I don't want to bog her down in technique so that she gets discouraged or bored. I want her to keep her spontaneity.

So I guess I am asking for some suggestions, insights, etc. from anyone who has worked with young children. Thanks so much.

Oh, yes, my husband is teaching her to draw. They are doing simple animals. He is a graphite artist. He is teaching her to see and draw what she sees.

Shirley
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Old 01-12-2009, 11:50 AM
Theophilus Theophilus is offline
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

A very good question....and one I would look forward to hearing an answer to as well....
There are young ones in my life that I would love to encourage in the world of art...yet not prohibit their creativity(with too much instruction) or discourage their love of art cause it is not at good as Johnny's or Ann's etc.
My feeling is that it depends on the child and that there is no book or shortcut to give the magic answer. But I sure wouldn't mind learning from others' experience.

-Theo
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:52 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

I have spent some time with one of my granddaughters and now the other two (ages 3 and 5) want to play. Play is the key word. I found that if I try to teach them they quickly get bored. I can show them a technique and then let them have fun playing with it. I never tell them how to do something or that their way is wrong because they are much more creative than I can possibly be.

I will show them how to make a colour such as blue smooth (wash) and then say something like "I wonder what it will look like if I blot some up with a Kleenex. Oh wow it looks like clouds." That way they learn that it is an adventure and they can try things on their own. They have also learned to paint clouds without being told how to do it.

It is after all a game. For them and for me.
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:05 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

John-Thanks so much. That is a great idea about "discovering" clouds. Yes, I like that approach very much. Exactly what I am looking for.

Shirley
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:35 PM
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McKeeJane McKeeJane is offline
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

Well, I used to homeschool my kids when they were younger and my philosophy is that you don't have to set out to 'teach' a child under 8 or so anything. Just 'do' with them and be willing to answer questions (or show them where to find the answers if you don't know it) - they'll learn and retain so much more that way.

My son is a little older (almost 10) and he likes to paint in watercolors. He had a watercolor coloring book a few years ago that was fantastic - it came with non-toxic pan paints and instead of a ton of simple pictures it had a few very large sheets of detailed pictures on nice hotpress type paper.
They were along the lines of what you get if you make a contour image out of a picture in photoshop.

Now he also has his own cheap tube paints and plastic pallette and a tablet of Cotman paper --- but he loves to play with Yupo. This is really a fun surface to work on with kids - I'd check it out if you never have.

Another thing he enjoys is to put watered down wc in spray bottles and paint that way - especially if we use them to make different textures (spraying over lace, cheesecloth, screen, etc). And he LOVES making stencils and spraying over them, then painting what's left.
In fact, for Christmas last year we got him this - and he loves it, but I actually get a lot of use out of it in my own projects, which was a surprise!

My guy liked to work on paintings together when he was littler, but that doesn't seem to work anymore. Now he likes for us to do our own paintings - but of the same subject. We also have a game we play where he makes a scrible on my paper and I on his and then we each have to turn them into something - and we've adapted this for painting.

My last piece of advice is to make sure you're careful with what paint you're using - even though my son's a little older and I'm usually right there when he's painting I only let him have the non-toxic stuff. I have a hard enough time being aware of myself not sticking the tip of my brush in my mouth when I'm thinking (or mistaking my brush water for my tea, etc) - I'm not up for watching him like a hawk. And too many of the artist quality pigments that I love are toxic.

Happy painting! I love how much doing artwork with kids brings out different sides of my own creativity!
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:11 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

I tried "teaching" my granddaughter one time. Thought a wash might be a good start. She was bored immediately. So we just painted anything we wanted to together. If I made an interesting shape or a blend of colors, something she liked, she'd ask, "How did you do that, Grampa?" Then I would show her. Now we go into the woods or some place interesting and paint together. She practices on her own without any "teaching." lj

Last edited by vzbike : 01-13-2009 at 10:16 PM. Reason: Add a line.
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:59 AM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

One time I played with my then 7 yr-old Grandson. What he enjoyed most was mixing colors to get a new one. I had him paint something in yellow, then do a pale wash of blue over it to make it become green. Did the same with blue and red for purple, yellow and red for orange. He thought it was magic and loved experimenting with the paints.

We also painted a purple, orange, blue, green, yellow giraffe once. Love the freedom of not worrying about reality with kids.

Sylvia
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:22 AM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

I buy news print by the roll... I cover my dining room table with long strips of this paper... Then, I lay inexpensive sheets of wc paper over that...

I made up two palettes for my granddaughters aged 8 and 6... I only get to see them 2-3 times per year, btw... So *stressless* sessions are REALLY important to me... Anyway, we place those palettes on the news print along with containers of water, crayons, pencils, markers and lots of paper towels... For Christmas, this year, I found sets of brushes at Toys-R-Us that included all kinds of sponges, bristles and types... lots of fun there...

We talk about what they want to paint... and I'll paint along with them... like... I dunno... butterflies... I paint mine and they paint theirs... sometimes on the paper... sometimes on the news print protecting my table...

Paige (my 8 year old) was learning to paint with gouache this year... and I bought her some wc postcards... this is her effort... (Katie's ended up being a big piece of news print that's just too large to scan... )



Anyway... we all have fun because there's no pressure to *learn* anything... but I get to talk to them during the entire process... and I get to do stuff that they can emulate... or not...

They teach me a lot of neat stuff...
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:39 PM
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Peg O'myArt Peg O'myArt is offline
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

Thank you for this great thread. My 4 year old granddaughter and I have lots of fun painting together and your thoughts have helped me know how to take it to the next level.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:16 AM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

Thank you for all the great ideas.
McKeeJane-I like your idea of using the spray bottles and stencils. She has already done a little stencil work, but this would be a fun extension. Also could use sponges to put on the color with the stencils. I have tried YUPO. In fact I have a painting in progress. I find it rather frustrating to work with, so that might show through to her. Still, I will keep it as an option. I am aware of the toxicity issue. I am with her when she paints, and she is not an "in the mouth" type child, anyway. I have her wash up after she is done. Still, caution, is always a good thing.

vzbike-Yes, I think your idea of doing and showing is a good one.

Sylvia-I like the idea of the glazing, to show how paints can mix that way, too. Love the colors kids chose. That is what is so great about the freedom of their expression.

Char-I like the idea of making up a palette just for her when she is here to paint and I will do that. When she was 3-4yr. old I did use different brushes and sponges to make shapes using poster paints. We would see what different shapes we could make with the different brushes too. And of course she loved choosing colors. I have one picture of her where is deep into it and she has her hand up to her forehead and an expression that says, "Oh my, what do I do now?". It is priceless. Yes, I must go back to the sponges, etc. with the watercolor. Great idea. I let her paint on my drafting table, so I don't worry much about the mess. It cleans up.
For Christmas this year, her mother took pictures of some of the things she had done with our first session, and put them on note cards for me. I may try to scan one and put it up here.

Shirley

Last edited by wcartistsr : 01-15-2009 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:33 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

Quote:
... and I bought her some wc postcards...

I forgot to mention postcards! These are probably Noah's favorite thing to paint on. Especially when my little brother was in Iraq, he just loved to paint things to send to Uncle Andy. We just finished them with a couple of coats of Krylon spray and they seem to have held up ok.
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:46 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

I've moved this thread to The Learning Zone because it is actually dealing with a question about techniques.

Lots of interesting ideas and info here.

Sylvia
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:36 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

My three grandchildren ages 12, 5 and 3. They were here yesterday afternoon and overnight and wanted art lessons. The 12 year old has advanced to washes so she was doing her own thing. I tried to have fun teaching the 5 and 3 year olds how to put lots of colour on the paper and then spray it and move it around by tilting the paper every which way. The 5 year old was much more interested in emulating her heroine (the 12 year old). We all had a blast and Pa (me) framed their paintings for them to take home.

Here are some pictures.


This is mine. I kind of liked it matted in black and framed but I signed it "PA"


I didn't get a picture of Bailey's but her is Morgan the 5 year old's.
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Old 01-18-2009, 03:34 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

John,
This is terrific. Looks like the grands had a wonderful time playing with the paints. Isn't that what we tell newbies to do!

Morgan's background is beautiful. I like what she did in the foreground too.

Sylvia
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Old 01-18-2009, 06:14 PM
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Re: Teaching Watercolor to Children

I have a question please...
What kind of watercolor paper to give to children to use?
Thanks...
Srishti
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