From ancient China to modern times, a Chinese scroll painting is always fashionable and beautiful. Encourage your child to make one as part of his world history or art studies, or just to pass the time on a weekend.
Optional: Vertical rectangle of fabric, just larger than the watercolor paper; scissors; stapler; wire hanger
What You Do:
Explain to your child that Chinese artists throughout history have painted on long pieces of silk and paper. Traditionally, Chinese artists have used watercolors and black ink. Your child will use watercolors and watercolor paper for his scroll painting.
Help him research some typical Chinese painting subjects on the Internet. Common motifs are things like cherry blossom trees, landscapes like oceans or mountains, Chinese calligraphy symbols, birds, fish, and dragons.
Now it’s time to start sketching! Have him lightly sketch his ideas onto the watercolor paper with a pencil. When he’s got his image the way he wants it, he can go over his pencil sketch with the watercolor paint to create his painting.
After the watercolor dries, he may want to highlight or darken some lines or add more calligraphy symbols with a black permanent marker, similar to the black ink that traditional Chinese painters used on scrolls.
When the painting has dried, he can prepare the scroll for display by mounting it on fabric, much like real scroll paintings. Find some fabric in a rectangular shape that’s just a little bit larger than the painting. Hand him a stapler and have him stape the four corners of his painting to the front of the fabric, centered in the middle of the vertical fabric rectangle.
Last, let him wrap the top of the fabric around the bottom of a wire hanger and staple the back of the wrapped fabric to the front of the fabric. The hanger now serves as a way to easily hang and display his lovely scroll painting.
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.