Artists have found for years that the expressiveness of watercolor is a perfect way to emulate nature in painting. This project is a great way to explore variations in how to paint using watercolor. Your child, using one color, will create two monochromatic leaves using two common methods of watercolor application. Both are beautiful and will allow your child the freedom of choosing their favorite method after exploring their options.
What You Do:
- Have your child go on a hunt outside for a beautiful, unique leaf. She can pick a few and choose her favorite to work from.
- Have her lightly trace her leaf twice with pencil onto watercolor paper. There should be a nice-sized space between the two traced leaves.
- For painting the first leaf, dip a paintbrush into the water cup and cover one of the drawn leaves with water, saturating the paper so it is wet.
- Paint in the leaf with one color of watercolor paint. Observe how difficult it is to control the paint, and yet how “painterly” the watercolor paint appears. She can allow the paint to dry for a few minutes and with a detail brush add in some details that she sees from the actual leaf onto the painted leaf. The lines will be difficult to control and may spread.
- To paint the second traced leaf, she can now use a detail brush and use the same color watercolor paint on the dry surface. The experience is completely different. She should have much more control and be able to add in fine details.
- Allow both leaves to dry completely. Cut them out using their traced outlines and mount them on black paper.
Helpful Tip: Mix more water with the watercolor to get a lighter color or tint, and use less water for a stronger color which is good to use for shadows or dark lines.
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.