After a field trip to an aquarium, here's a great follow-up project to talk about the creatures your child saw! Not only will he get a chance to talk about what he explored and learned—the various habits, shapes, and colors of sea creatures, but he'll also create a sea-inspired, salty memento. The salt adds a little something extra—giving the painting more texture than the average watercolor!
What You Do:
- Begin by asking your child to define the word "texture." Encourage him to describe the textures of some of the underwater creatures he's seen. Take a look at some images of salt water fish to jog his memory. The library is a great resource for fishy reference material. Also, Marc Pfister's Rainbow Fish is a good reference to see how another artist has interpreted texture in underwater creatures.
- Have your child dip a clean paint brush into a cup of water and spread a layer of water all over the piece of white paper to wet it, prior to painting.
- Then, ask him to dip his paint brush into the watercolor paint, and start painting his seascape onto the wet paper. Encourage him to show the proper shapes and colors of the animals. Were they long or short? Wide or narrow? Did they have geometrical patterns? Don't forget the scales!
- While the painting is still wet, have him lightly sprinkle sea salt onto the picture. Together, watch the texture of the painting change, as the sea salt absorbs the water around it—leaving the pigment behind. The chemical reaction will take a few minutes, but there will eventually be light spots where the grains of salt landed.
- Ask your child to describe how the salt added texture to the seascape. It should appear that the water contains bubbles and light, as a result.
- Allow the painting to dry completely.
- Finally, have your child gently brush the salt off the dry painting.
Make sure to talk about how the salt affects the painting. Emphasize the idea that salt absorbs water, and ask him how he feels after eating salty popcorn or chips. Usually, people get thirsty because salt absorbs water into their body, just like it absorbs water into the painting.
Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.