Toddler Watercolor Painting, Keeping it Neat

clean and tidy painting with toddlers and preschoolers

I’m not afraid of messes, but I’m also not looking for them. Are you with me? So when my almost 2-year old said that she wanted to paint, I was ready with my spill-management toolbox: an ice cube tray and a wooden serving tray.

In case you’re wondering how the wooden tray is paint-free (I’d wonder about that), it’s seen better days and was just treated to a new paint job with a few quick strokes of acrylic paint.

clean painting toddlers preschoolers

After I squeezed a few tablespoons of Colorations Liquid Watercolor Paint (one of my favorite supplies) into the ice cube tray, I invited R to pick a brush (she likes the fat ones), and painting was underway in less than five minutes.

Sometimes I’ll add a bowl of water for rinsing brushes between colors, and a dry rag for absorbing excess water, but this was a simple, no frills kind of project.

clean and tidy painting with toddlers and preschoolers

Clean-up was a snap. The brush and ice cube tray got a quick rinse in the sink — watercolors clean up super fast. And the tray was stored away. I also like to keep a pack of baby wipes and a damp rag near the art table for hands and spills. This happened to be a neat, mess-free day. Maybe we had some good karma coming our way?

Do you have any tricks for neat and tidy painting?

 

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Sticker Resist with Watercolors

Sticker resist with watercolors

Do you have a set of watercolors? If not, this fun project will give you reason to pick one up.

Watercolor sticker resist

My kids and I have been keeping sketchbooks for a few months, and we enjoy the challenge of testing out new techniques, materials, and ideas as we move through our books. Painting over stickers (and then peeling them back) presents children with the opportunity to learn about masking off areas of their work, negative space, and paint-resist.

This project is ideal for preschoolers and above.

Materials

  • Watercolor paints
  • Paintbrush/es
  • Paper Towels or rags for blotting paint.
  • Sketchbook or Heavy Paper that can support a fair amount of water. Watercolor Paper is ideal.
  • Office Stickers: Round, rectangular. Paper tape or kid stickers work well too.

Sticker resist with watercolors

I started with a few sheets of dot stickers from the office supply aisle at the drug store, and then made a random pattern all over my sketchbook.

Sticker resist with watercolors

Then I painted a wash of rainbow colors over the stickers.

Sticker resist with watercolors

Nutmeg thought this looked pretty cool, and jumped in with her own version: rectangle stickers and free-form painted shapes. I always encourage children to follow their own ideas when making art.

Sticker resist with watercolors

She peeled the rectangle stickers off the page to see how the technique worked, and then added a sea of circle stickers to the page.

Sticker resist with watercolors

She asked if she could peel all of my stickers off — quite easily her favorite part of the whole project.

Sticker resist with watercolors

When the paint dried, she peeled all the stickers off her page to reveal the white space below. So fun!

Printable Project Recipe

Sticker Resist with Watercolors
Author: 
Recipe type: Painting
Prep time: 
Making time: 
Total time: 
 
Paint over stickers, and then peel them back, to reveal the white spaces of the page. A lesson in negative space and masking as a resist.
Ingredients
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paintbrush/es
  • Paper Towels or rags for blotting paint.
  • Sketchbook or Heavy Paper that can support a fair amount of water. Watercolor Paper is ideal.
  • Office Stickers: Round, rectangular. Paper tape or kid stickers work well too.
Instructions
  1. Place stickers on the paper.
  2. Paint over stickers.
  3. When the paint dries, peel stickers off.

What do you think? Have you tried other techniques for masking off paper?

 

Straw-blown Watercolor Painting

the wide straw doesn't work

Oh, how I love an art project with unexpected results. We took your usual watercolor painting activity and added some straws to create this loopy, drippy beautiful mess. The fun was in trying to control the flow of paint with the droppers and straws, which was near impossible, but totally worth a try.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for your convenience

Materials

  • Watercolor paper or card stock — we used 8.5 x 11 card stock from the office supply store
  • Liquid watercolors. We like to use Sax Concentrated Liquid Watercolors from Amazon. They’re washable and non-toxic.
  • Eye droppers or pipettes
  • Straws
  • Tray to hold the paper. This keeps the paint from blowing all over the table
  • Paper towels, sponge, or towels. Optional, but you won’t regret this insurance policy

Pull some watercolor paint into the dropper and then squeeze it on the paper.

Pick up a straw and start blowing. N tested a wide “milkshake” straw first, and this is what she thought about it…

Yeah, not so good.

She traded it in for a skinny straw and then turned into a straw-blowing paint machine. The skinny straw is the way to go (but I’d encourage you to try both and see what works for you, making it a true experiment!).

After about six straw paintings, my daughter got a brush and did some paint mixing experiments. Such a fun, easy, and not-too-messy way to spend an afternoon.

Have you tried straw painting?

Feel free to add a photo in the comments if you have! Or, give it a try and add your photo next time you stop by.

This post shared with It’s Playtime

Coffee Filter Flowers

flower

We recently started using a Chemex coffee pot (next to Blue Bottle, it makes the BEST coffee ever — anyone else with me?) and we had a stack of old filters collecting dust, waiting to be repurposed into watercolor coffee filter flowers!

I mixed a little water to liquid watercolors, and added droppers. You could also use food coloring and scavenge droppers from old bottles of Baby Tylenol.

The set-up

  • Watercolors
  • Flat-bottom coffee filters
  • Droppers
  • Tray to catch spills
  • Covered table
  • Bowl of Sequins (not necessary, but N insisted on this…you’ll soon see why)
  • Green Pipe Cleaners

Squeeze some watercolor on the filters until you reach desired color combination/saturation level. You may not really care about the aesthetics at all, as the activity of squeezing watery paint is so enjoyable in its own right. If that’s the case, keep on squeezing!

And add some sequins, googly eyes, and fake plastic nails while you’re at it! I love how children are filled with their own novel ideas and believe it’s important to encourage imaginative play at every opportunity.

Over the course of half and hour, we worked side-by-side to color a bunch of coffee filters and let them dry overnight.

The next day, we had fun chopping the filters up into snowflakes, and wearing them as crowns. This was all N’s idea. And she decided her baby sister needed a crown too. You never know where art activities are going to take you!

To make the flowers (and these next steps are all me)…

1. Stack about 5 coffee filters like pancakes. I sandwiched unpainted filters between painted ones to give it more contrast.

2. Accordion-fold the filter stack and secure it with a pipe cleaner

Pull out the filters individually, giving it a all a nice puff.

And proudly display your Spring bouquet.

Find this post on My Delicious Ambiguity, ABC and 123, Play Academy @ Nurturstore, We Play