I used to think watercolor was such a tough media to work in. I was always afraid of watercolor. Seeing the fine detail and rich representational work done by most artists, I didn’t think I could do the same sort of work.
Watercolor is so loose, can be drippy and runny. How does one create something with that property?
And how does one introduce children to this media?
The last few years at winter break, I have worked on learning how to use and introduce this media to children. I figure the more I play with it and understand it’s properties, the more knowledge I have to share with the students I teach.
What I have learned is it takes time to do a watercolor. Watercolor is about patience. And having a rag to sop up the extra color and water where you don’t want it.
I took a class in water coloring a few years ago. The teacher was teaching us to do oceanscapes and flowers. That was where I learned the few techniques I do have.
What I know about watercolor is that it is great for blending and mixing colors on the paper.
Oh!! And that paper is important, more important than anything. Best to use a 140lb sheet of paper, holds the wetness.
I have practiced using masking techniques, where one applies this rubber cement like mixture on paper, let it dry and then paint all around it. Then you rub it off and have empty space to paint in. This is not a technique I have used with children because of the strong smell of the cement mixture. Also it takes time to dry. I have used tacky tape to section off areas for children to paint using watercolors. That’s cool.
One technique I love when working with children and watercolor is eyedroppers. There are these diffuse papers, kind of like coffee filters that hold the liquid. They come in different shapes. Children love, love the eyedroppers and it is also a fine motor development. It requires the thumb and index finger for squeezing. And then there is learning to hold and squeeze for color to fill up and then release on the paper. That is lot of learning from one experience.
I like all the forms of watercolor, liquid, cake, tubes. And I find it important to teach children to use all the various forms of this media. Learning to use the eyedropper with the cake form and not scrub the brush is an important technique. Learning how to use the brush and clean it in between colors is important with any liquid media.
As a teacher and artist, the more I play with a media, the more comfortable I am with it, the better to introduce it to my young students.
I never thought I would say I love the media of watercolor. I have learned to manipulate it so that I can create what I want.
And that’s the best part.