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Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Paint Gorgeous Clouds with Watercolor-- 5th and 6th Grade

Clouds. Aren't they amazing? 

Cloud photography by Carolyn Cochrane  (visit her Etsy shop by clicking on the link)

Two years ago I took a very helpful watercolor painting class.  One of our assignments was to paint clouds. 

Painting by Marcia Beckett

Connecting Art with Science

I love to make connections with other subjects.  This one is perfect for my 5th/6th grade because in Science class they study cloud identification.  They come into my class with a broad understanding of clouds which makes my lesson richer.  

Clouds and Art Resource

The Clouds in Art Gallery is amazing.  This gallery features famous paintings (for example, by Van Gogh, Constable, Turner, Renoir) with the clouds identified.  To start this lesson, I downloaded the powerpoint from the website to show my students.

The One Tool I Can't Live Without for Watercolor Painting

Hands down, my favorite tool for watercolor painting is the fan brush.   Buy fan brushes in a variety of sizes.  If your budget is small, start by buying a small assortment every year.  They are indispensable for creating texture! 
Blick Scholastic Wonder White Fan Blick Scholastic Wonder White Fan
Blick's White Taklon delivers the texture and responsiveness of Red Sable, yet holds up to the caustic nature of solvents and acrylic paints with greater durability, making these brushes a must-have for the classroom. The selection of shapes and sizes available means there's a Wonder White brush for every media and application. The sharp point has good spring. Long handles are finished in blue gloss with nickel-plated brass ferrules.

Tips for Using the Fan Brushes

1.  Find reference photos of clouds to use while painting.

2.  Use the paper towel to dab your brush so it is not dripping wet.  A dry brush will create a nice texture.

3.  Use a light feathery technique to make the texture in the clouds or grass.  Look at this video to see what I mean.  For the clouds, hold the brush flat and dab it up and down.  

4.  When painting the sky, remember to leave the cloud areas white, unpainted.  Paint the sky around the clouds.  While the blue paint is still wet, add other colors (different shades of blues, purples, etc) on top and it will blend the colors together.  Creating variations in the shades makes a more realistic effect.  

5.   Go back in to add depth to your clouds with light touches of grays, pinks, purples.. the sky's the limit! 

Additional Tips for Watercolor Painting Landscapes

  • If you can afford it, don't skimp on the quality of the watercolors for kids.  It does make a big difference, in my opinion.  Every two kids can share the paints.  So if your highest count of kids in a class is 26, buy 13 sets if you can.   Simply instruct them to place the watercolors in between them.  I also find that this helps them to monitor the muddying of the colors.. no one wants all their paints to turn black from careless mixing.   
  • Use a sea sponge for rocky or sandy texture.  
  • As for paper, I have experimented with a lot of paper and I am still on the never-ending quest to find the perfect, non-wrinkly, affordable watercolor paper for kids.  PLEASE let me know if you have any recommendations.  What I have used recently for painting with watercolors and tempera is White Tag Board from Nasco.  I find that it takes paint well and looks pretty nice.  I have not been afraid to get out the iron and carefully iron paintings that have buckled.  Another option is to take a stack of heavy books and place them on top of the dried paintings.  What do you do?



Jen said...

What a great post. I love doing watercolor myself, but you offer a lot of great suggestions.

I have an old old laminator that heats up. I tend to flatten my artwork using that. Works like a charm. :)

Phyl said...

I always had kids draw a light pencil border, about 1/2" from edge of paper. All painting is done inside the frame. When the paint doesn't go to the edge of the paper, it doesn't curl so much, plus it gives you unpainted edges for carrying the wet artwork to the drying rack.

Sandy said...

I have a cardboard box filled with tag board and when an entire class has dry paintings, I take the whole stack and put under box for a night. Then in the morning I switch to another class. I see the same classes every other day so this works for me. After I take the stack out I grade and hang up.

Anonymous said...

Love the work --yours & theirs! I use 90# drawing paper & it stays pretty flat. Expensive but when you buy a ream, not bad.

jacob jackson said...

Wow..Your students have painted very well. Your tips will be helpful. It would have been better if you could share a tutorial as I prefer to learn by watching videos. I found this after writing the above message: Maybe you should add this video after your tutorial for users like me.

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