If you have done art with kids at all, whether it be to a group, or to your own kids for homeschool art, or just as a fun activity, watercolors are something you have probably done more than once. Kids learn to use them at a very young age and because of the way they are packaged, all neat and dry in their own little containers, they make it easy to transport and use other places, too. You just need some watercolor paper, water and a brush, and you’ve got something fun to do.
For this project, the only other thing you need is a white crayon!
Watercolor resist is a technique where you draw a fairly simple design on your paper first, and the wax from the crayon “resists” the water and paint pigment, creating a neat look that is a magical thing to watch, too, so kids really enjoy it.
For this specific artwork, I was thinking for a rainy day activity, or during the summer when it can tend to be umbrella season, but truly, it is good for anytime. Amazon affiliate links have been used for some of the recommended supplies.
What you will need:
Watercolor paper: Yes, it really does make a difference to have the right paper. Regular paper gets soggy, rips and tears, and crinkles up when drying. Watercolor paper will give a much better outcome. One or two sheets per child.
Watercolor paints: I love this set for the vibrant colors, good coverage, and quality. SO much better than cheapie sets.
Brushes: A medium to large brush and a small brush for each child. I recommend this set of brushes because of the amount, variety of sizes, and quality.
White crayon – 1 per child
Cup of water and paper towels for each child
Hand wipes or a damp washcloth
- Drawing the design: First thing, depending on the age of the kids, you may want to pre-draw the outline of the umbrella design for them with the white crayon. For kids maybe 3rd grade and under, this helps them get to experience the “magic” of seeing the white outline pop through the paint.Middlers (like 3rd-5th grade) may enjoy doing it once with you pre-drawing, and then a second time on their own once they’ve learned the technique. For older kids who you feel can design their own artwork easily, give them the crayons first and allow them to draw their own and then paint it. You can give them the theme of rainy day – I gave them summer rain, or something like that and they all came up with neat weather related paintings. It doesn’t have to be an umbrella. 🙂
This is a very poorly done outline of what the white crayon design should be like on your paper. #humble
The crayon is a little hard to see when you begin, but if you tilt the paper in the light, it will reflect the light and it will be easier to see. Start out by drawing the umbrella top, since it is the most focal and large part of the painting, and go over the lines several times with the crayon. If you don’t make the lines nice and thick in crayon, it won’t resist the paint. Then, draw your handle and some rain drops in the same manner.
2. Painting: Now, give the kids the paints and brushes and water, and let them color in their umbrellas and skies. I told them to think “rainy day” or stormy type of skies, but I let them do it the way they wanted, and they all came out awesome.
If they are newer to watercolors, they may try to make the paints thick, the way they are used to seeing acrylics or other mediums, and if they go too thick, the water won’t repel off the wax, so try to explain to them that you want strong color, but you do need it to be wet and spread it around some, so the water shows through. I had a few who didn’t really grasp the concept and they painted it very thick, so hardly any white popped through. (They still painted beautiful pieces though!)
3. Drying: Once they are done with the watercolor paints, just allow them about 15 to 20 minutes to dry all the way.
Once you know how to make watercolor relief work, you can use it in lots of different ways!
I was walking out of Kroger yesterday, and suddenly I was gripped by nostalgia. Years ago when my children were young, there was a little mechanical horse outside of our Kroger, and it only cost a penny to ride it! Well, needless to say, this was an absolute highlight for my kids each time we would go to the grocery store, because I would let each and every one of them ride that little red horse. Sometimes one by one, sometimes with a bigger kid hugging a younger sibling in front of them on the saddle, or two little buddies that wanted to ride together.
A simple thing, but I hadn’t thought of it in ages, and as the memory of that swept upon me through the cold winter air, tears came to my eyes as I thought of it. I texted each of my six kids and asked, “Remember when you kids were little and we’d stop on our way out of Kroger to ride the mechanical horse?” and each one from oldest to the youngest texted back, commenting on how fun that was and how much they loved it.
I tried to imagine myself as I must’ve been back in those days. Grocery shopping with a young brood of children, certainly 2, 3, 4, or more in tow each and every time. And certainly pregnant for many of those years as well. We often had two carts of groceries that we were bringing out, because I only shopped every two weeks, and it felt like a major event in both planning and energy and logistics!
I imagined the patience it must’ve taken to get us through the store, to field the many requests for items, to constantly keep in mind my very modest grocery budget, enduring my hurting back while largely pregnant, and anticipating the awaiting process of unloading and putting away at home.
It would’ve been easy to say no and keep on walking to the van, but that mom said yes. Yes to the penny horse. Yes to the smiles and laughter. Yes to the simple joy of a little ride for small children that were out on errands with their mommy.
I want to encourage you today to be a mom that says YES.
Yes to the penny horse.
Yes to bundling up the whole bunch of kids into winter gear to go sledding for 20 minutes, and then have them all turn around and come back in. (filling the back door with soggy mittens and boots and coats!)
Yes to hot cocoa.
Yes to one more chapter of the book they love.
Yes to making tents and eating popcorn and family movie nights.
Yes to playing board games and working puzzles at the kitchen table.
In fact, my wish would be for you to say YES to as many happy things as you can. Make it your default answer. Save your No’s for the times when it has to be that way. But be a Yes mom, as much as you can. Because when you look back at the years you spent with your kids during their childhood, you are going to love what you see, and so are they.
They get one childhood, and thanks to homeschooling, we get to be a huge part of that. Make it a good one.
Lots of love to you and yours,
Daily Art is our super popular done-for-you art appreciation program that comes to you via email.
One of the fun things about this program is that there are some suggested art projects included. Most are pretty easy to do at home with items you probably already have around, but just in case you need to fill in the gaps, I’ve made up a list of the tools and supplies that we use here and have found worthwhile.
Not being a natural artist myself, it took my until I was an adult to discover the huge difference that having quality materials makes in creating art. If you have paint colors that are thin and weak, brushes that shed bristles, and paper that falls apart, painting isn’t much fun! Once I got introduced to The Good Stuff my enjoyment of creating things went way up. And best of all, these items really aren’t expensive. It’s more a matter of knowing what’s worth getting.
Here are links to the recommended items for following along with the art projects included in Daily Art: Renaissance. Amazon affiliate links are used.
watercolor paints: This set gives vibrant colors that I absolutely love! SO much better than those weak little trays of blah that most of us have had. Quality matters so much and these will inspire and delight your kids at a very reasonable price.
watercolor paper: Yes, you need watercolor paper, not regular paper. Watercolor paper provides a thickness that can stand up to the wetness of watercolors without tearing, warping, and soaking through. Having the right materials makes a big difference in how much your children will enjoy art.
paint brushes: I love this set both for quality and variety. You get 12 different brushes in this set, so there’s enough for a few kids to share. Better yet–they are junky and won’t lose bristles left and right like others do. They hold up nicely to washing after use, and store in their own zip pouch.
acrylic paint set: I like this set of washable paints because you get 18 different colors in 2 ounce bottles, so it’s plenty for kids to share and to cover just about any painting project your little artists will want to do. I also like the box it comes in, which still serves as storage for my set 4 years after I bought it.
colored pencils: Invest in one high-quality colored pencils set that’s large enough for your children to share, and stores in it’s own tin box! These can’t be beat for great saturated color, smoothness going on paper, thick leads so they don’t break every five minutes, and nice ability for shading and blending. Get as large a set as you can afford. They are so nice!
brayer/paint roller: Easy to use, easy to clean. You can get one or two and have the kids share.
clay tools: For Daily Art: Renaissance, you can get away with using dull pencils, toothpicks, or sticks. But if you have kids that like to do more precise work, and if you don’t already have some tools for clay or sculpey around, you might enjoy this set. I like it that they are double sided, so you get 12 tools in one set. Beware, some are sharp!
regular pencils and paper
Ivory soap: grocery store pickup
styrofoam plates: grocery store pickup
permanent markers like sharpie (regular and a thin tip black one)
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about speaking our truth. Setting current events aside, I want to dive into this more general topic, but as it relates to homeschool moms like us. There seems to be an incredible amount of pressure and forces at work that want to keep people silent. I imagine all people experience this from time to time, but in my experience women seem to feel it the most, and I think homeschool moms have particular truths we hesitate to speak.
I recall a time about 16 years ago when I was absolutely drowning with the realities of my life, and I was so depleted I had almost no internal resources to try to help myself. When sharing about my situation in an online group I was in at the time, I was cautioned by a woman in the group that whatever I did, I must not tell my husband how I was struggling. If he knew, she told me, he might want us to not have any more babies. He might say that we should put the children in school. In short, knowing the reality of my suffering and despair might upset the ideological apple cart, and for some reason it was more important to uphold those ideals than to make sure I was healthy, whole, and happy.
(Thankfully, that poisonous advice was enough to wake me up. And I told my husband. And we did make some changes in our life. And know what? It was the right thing.)
Why do we do this? Why do we send messages that if others speak up about their truth that steps on someone else’s toes, they must be silenced? Why do we allow others to try to shame us into a box and stay there alone, unsupported, and afraid?
How often have you had thoughts like these?
I feel like I’m failing.
The pressure of homeschooling feels like too much.
There isn’t enough of me to go around.
My husband is not supportive.
My children are so far behind, I don’t think we will ever catch up.
I’m not happy with my life.
And how often have you felt you had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, no right to voice these things, because there might be people that say things like, “HEY! If you didn’t want to deal with all this, why’d ya have so many kids in the first place? Why did you decide to be a stay at home mom? Why did you think you could homeschool in the first place? Weren’t YOU a dope to not pursue a career?”
Just like every other type of cold blame, we are often told we did this to ourselves. “So now sit there and suffer the fate that you picked.” No room for our truth. No room to voice our experience. No room to spare for empathy, or to honor the paths we’ve chosen, though every path comes with its own set of challenges and difficulties.
Sister, I want to tell you something. You have one beautiful, precious life to live. And believe it or not, you matter. Your well-being matters. Your happiness matters. Your health matters. It’s true.
You and I are not born to be upholders of ideologies. We are more than ambassadors for our beliefs and practices or educational philosophies. We are meant to travel through this life in the best ways we know how, and to love and be loved for who we truly are.
When we stay hidden, and when our truth stays hidden, we are not fully known, and we prevent people from fully loving us. If we are hidden, how can we be known or found?
If we push others into hiding and silence with our rejection and blame, we let them know that the biggest thing that matters about them is their compliance. We don’t want their humanity.
Instead of being agents of silence and shame, let’s work to each be a conduit for truth. Let’s be a safe place for friends to tell us what’s really going on. And let’s be willing to be vulnerable and take a chance on telling someone else what truths are going on within us. This is the path forward for ourselves, and for our children, and our children’s children.
I don’t know how to change the world, except to start with myself. You can, too. Even as a busy homeschool mom at home with her children.
What do you think?
One of the very best ways to help our kids get excited about history and remember what they’ve learned is by making meaningful connections. Take Time for Art does an awesome job of doing just that, by bringing together audio, video, visuals, and really cool art projects into one fabulous program that makes history study so exciting and accessible!
About a year ago I got to meet Take Time for Art founder Penny Mayes, and I was so excited to hear about the way she has combined art and history into a program that I know other homeschool families will love.
My teenage sons and I got to work through the Ancient Greece program at Take Time for Art. (They also offer Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome) In this program we got to watch 15 different well-done streaming videos that taught us about various aspects of Ancient Greece, such as the ancient Minoans, the Mycenean civilization, the dark ages, Athens, the Hellenistic period, and several forms of art such as metal tooling, fresco paintings, pottery, wartime clothing, and more. Each section of history is followed by an art project that’s inspired by that era. The video walks you through each step of the process of creating the art, and the convenient art supplies pack contained all the materials we needed in order to complete the projects. (except for a few basic items that you would be sure to have on hand)
For the Ancient Greece program we got to make the following projects:
- a color wheel (which is referred back to in later projects–a great starting point for understanding the relationships between colors!)
- a watercolor fresco painting of an octopus
- a metal tooling landscape project (the other option was to make a Mask of Agamemnon, which was also super cool. But we fell in love with these textures and all selected the landscape project. They are so pretty in person!)
a Greek warrior helmet (we had the option to make it with or without a crest and other adornments. It is really cool, and yes, you can even wear your finished helmet!)
- a terra cotta tile art project that I really enjoyed! I have never worked with terra cotta tiles, and I liked the surface and the way the marker color sinks into the surface. We could have chosen a horse image for the tile as well. Bonus fun was that we were able to heat this in our oven for 30 minutes, which makes the artwork on it longer-lasting!
One of the things I really like about this program is the variety of projects available. Within this one program we got to learn a lot of history while also trying out several completely different types of art that we would not have thought up on our own. Even better, within each project there are choices, sometimes an either-or option, sometimes an easier/more difficult option. I love it that this gives the kids options and allows them to choose the thing they are most excited about. This is also great because the program will work for the typical homeschool family that has many different ages of children represented in their family. Middle elementary kids could certainly do these projects with some assistance, but there is definitely enough challenge for high schoolers and parents to participate as well! I personally enjoyed doing some of the projects myself, and got to learn about art materials that I had never worked with before.
The other thing I love about this is that the projects are guided. Sure, total creativity is exciting and cool, but not everybody’s mind works like that. Participating in a guided art activity gives us the opportunity to work with materials and techniques that we may not be familiar with, and offers a jumping off point for future creative endeavors. I am solidly in the camp of believing that BOTH guided art experiences AND free time to create art are valuable. (for parents and kids alike!)
These are not fluff projects. Each one is meaty, involved, takes several hours to complete (some are done over the course of more than one day), and produces a very nice piece of finished work for you to enjoy. Your kids will be proud of their art work!
Budget-conscious moms may be tempted to wonder if they really need a separate art supply pack for each child. You will definitely want to get one per person. Sure, there are a couple items included that could possibly be shared between kids, but for the most part each person will need all the supplies provided, and it will be less confusing and complicated when everybody has all the materials they need. I really appreciated how organized the art supplies kit was, how carefully the bendable items were packaged and protected, and that having all of it together made it possible for us to actually do these projects. If I had needed to track down all the materials from the store, or worry about dividing them up between several children, that would probably have been enough of a barrier to make me not get it done. Take Time for Art has made it about a simple as possible to watch the streaming videos and complete the projects! Perfect for busy homeschool families.
I can see Take Time for Art being a wonderful addition to your more formal studies about the coordinating time period. I think it would work well as a once-a-week or twice a month supplement and reinforcement where you would watch one of the history videos, and then work on the next art project. Your kids will love the change of pace, plus they’ll have some really cool finished projects to display in their bedrooms or in your home that will also help them recall the time period and historical information related to the piece.
Click here to visit Take Time for Art and check out their programs!