Water Color Landscape Art Activities

Getting started: A wonderful way to begin this project is to look at the watercolor illustrations in the book Old Turtle by Douglas Wood. The watercolor paintings in the book, by Cheng-Khee Chee are incredible.

Art Techniques:
Watercolor painting
Grades: Kg-12
Ages: 4-adult

About this project: A nice reference book for the art educator is: Children And Painting by Cathy Weisman Topal. Chapter 12 has many nice suggestions on successfully using watercolors with children.

Materials needed:
  • different sizes of white drawing paper and watercolor paper
  • tape
  • boards
  • pencils, erasers and sharpener
  • plastic container filled with water
  • paper towels
  • a variety of sizes of watercolor brushes
  • pans of watercolor paint
  • newspaper
  • fine-tip black permanent marker

Part 1
  1. Place newspaper over your work space.
  2. Review the paintings in the book Old Turtle, mentioned above.
  3. And/or review your own collection of landscapes, and watercolor landscapes. There are many pictures that can be downloaded from the web as well.
  4. The best option, is to paint outside. Find a good place to work ahead of time.
  5. In order to soften each color, and to get more vibrant colors, place a drop of water into each pan of color before starting to work.
  6. I begin with a quick demonstration on scrap paper, on how to use watercolors. I demonstrate that the amount of water and pigment changes the value (or darkness) of the color). I also encourage wiping of colors when they become muddy, and changing the water when that gets too muddy.
  7. Demonstrate washing a paintbrush, and checking if it is indeed clean on the newspaper.
  8. Tape the corners of the watercolor paper to a board.
  9. In terms of the composition, I pencil in a horizon line. I remind students that things they choose to put in the foreground are larger than most things in the background. I encourage them to push lightly on the pencil, and not to fill in anything. I call the lines, helping lines.
  10. It is important to mention that one can go from light colors to dark colors and not the other way around, so they should paint the light areas before the dark areas.
  11. Mention that in order to keep the white areas white, they can put tape down.
  12. They might want to wet the paper before painting areas like the sky.
  13. Explain the color wheel, and color-mixing before getting started.
  14. Lastly, if they make a mistake, they can water down the area, and soak up some of the color with a paper towel.

Part 2

  1. Leave out to dry over night, still taped to the board.
  2. If you did not use boards, put paintings in a stack, and put heavy books on top.
  3. At a second lesson, you may want to go over some lines with a fine-tip permanent marker.
  4. I like kids to sign and date their work with small letters in the bottom corner of their painting.
  5. They can also give their picture a name.

Art Therapy Ideas: Most elementary art projects are a great way to start an art therapy session. In the case of watercolors