The top 10 watercolor projects from my studio- student favorites for all ages that adults and seasoned watercolor artist can also enjoy. These are really fun to do with a young artist too.
Watercolors are a student favorite in my studio, and a favorite of mine to be honest. I love their fluid freedom, vibrant colors, ease of experimentation, and–let’s be honest– the easy set up an clean up. Using basic household items like table salt and paper towels, you have nearly endless exploration possibilities.
(This post contains product links that are partnership links. This helps me continue to be a full time artist and does not effect your price at all.)
In no particular order, here are the top ten watercolor projects that keep me and my students endlessly busy in the studio:
1. Watercolor Rain Drops
I’ve done this art with kids as young as 5 because it’s easy, fun, and really draws you into the joy of creating. If you only had time or energy to do ONE of these projects, pick this one! This project is taken from Paint Lab for Kids by Stephanie Corfee.
To create the drops, you need to set your paper up vertically- I tape the sheet to a piece of cardboard and put it on an easel, but you could prop it up however it works. TIP: put a paper towel under the bottom edge to catch drips that run off the page. Create the drops by using a round brush with watery paint- tap at the top and watch them drip down! Have fun mixing two or more colors in one drip and watch them change as they drip down. The dripping action is “Super satisfying!” as one of my students says. After the watercolors are dry, we have painted clouds using acrylic paints over the top.
Variation idea: instead of creating rain drops, rotate your art piece a quarter turn on your easel at a time. This leads to a drip piece that starts to resemble a map or pipes. Limiting your colors to choices that blend well together to avoid making ‘mud’ colors.
3. Dream Room Illustrations
One of my favorites to do with a student. We created illustrations with pencil, outlined our drawings using Micron Pens, then painted them. In addition to watercolors, we used Arteza Real Brush Pens, Blick Studio Dual Tip Markers, and Prismacolor Dual Tip Markers to enhance shadows, add patterns and fine details. The result is a bright and cheery illustration- can be based on a real place or an imaginary one.
4. Inside/ Outside House
Using a simlar process to the dream rooms above, these are really fun way to learn a little perspective and use imagination. We drew the outline of the house first, then drew the rooms of the interior next. Then we cut out the house and drew the front- matching windows and doors from the interior to the exterior illustration. Again we then outlined with Micron Pens, painted, and added details with Arteza Real Brush Pens, and Blick Studio Dual Tip Markers.
2. Watercolor Resist Art
Easy for all ages- this art uses watercolors and either crayons or oil pastels. The oil pastels seem to work the best, so if you have those, use them! Draw your image using the pastels or crayons, then paint the entire image with watercolors. I like to use this especially to depict rain, and it’s fun to draw clouds and raindrops in white and watch them appear when you paint it.
There are plenty of variations- a spider web, butterfly wings, and even a full sunset! The only limit is your imagination. Add table salt to wet paint for a great feathering effect.
5. Paper Towel Watercolor Shapes
Another fun project from Paint Lab for Kids by Stephanie Corfee– this project uses paper towel pieces to create the butterfly wings. Tear desired shapes and lay on paper. Then use your brush to saturate the paper towel with paint. You then carefully remove the paper towel pieces to reveal the spongy color underneath. I did finishing with Micron Pens, Arteza Real Brush Pens, and Blick Studio Dual Tip Markers.
6. Color Wheel
A color wheel is fun and easy for all ages and has a great WOW factor. Why? Because you ONLY use the primary colors (Red, Blue and Yellow) to make the all the colors. Most kids and adults have the primary colors and what they make when combined memorized- and to put that knowledge into action is really fun. Draw a 6 piece “art pie” and do the primary colors in every other space. Then use the primary colors to make the combos:
Red+ Yellow= Orange
Red+ Blue= Purple
Blue + Yellow= Green
Making the secondary colors is super satisfying! Sprinkle salt on your wet paint to watch more science action unfold.
7. Primary/ Secondary Color Circles
Take the color wheel a step further: create a composition of overlapping circles. Fill in the circles with primary colors (Red, Blue, Yellow) only. Then, in the spots where they overlap create the color combinations. This is a great way to use the brain while painting- and if you have multiple circles overlaying in a spot- to discover what colors they create!
8. Stained Glass Art
Another student favorite is Stained Glass Watercolor art. Created you drawing in pencil, then go over the lines in black fabric paint. When the paint is dry, fill in the shapes with watercolors. This is fun because the dimensional paint creates walls. If you are doing this with a tiny person, they will need help applying the black lines. TIP: the bigger the shapes, the easier all around. Tiny lines and shapes are harder to outline and fill in.
This is yet another great project from Paint Lab for Kids by Stephanie Corfee.
9. Squares of Watercolor
Use tape to create smaller boxes on your paper. Challenge yourself to put a different pattern or drawing in each box with oil pastels. Then paint each box a different color. When the paint is dry, remove the tape and you have a wonderful composition of mini art!
10. Watercolor Leaves
Walk around your yard and find leaves (or other objects) to observe their colors. Trace the objects lightly and draw simple details like the veins of the leaves. Outline shapes and lines using Micron pens. Have fun mimicking the colors and patterns you observe on the objects.
Variation: overlay the leaves and draw the negative spaces only. Fill in the negative spaces with an ombre wash of color. Add spatters with a toothbrush dipped in watercolors!
Below are (partner) links to supplies that will make your projects run easier!
Brushes- I recommend a good round brush or a set.